They’re our best friends, as the saying goes. But dogs can be incredibly difficult to draw – that is, unless you know a few simple tricks.
Maybe you want to have a go at a portrait of your pooch, or perhaps you’re interested in animal illustration. Either way, the best way to kick off dog drawing is knowing how to draw one from imagination.
That’s why, in our eight-step tutorial, we’re going to show you how to put together a realistic dog entirely from the mind’s eye. This might sound intimidating, but as with most drawing, if you break down the process to a series of simplified steps, you’ll be surprised how quickly you get some impressive results.
What materials will I need?
You can bring your dog to life with anything from coloured pencils to watercolours, but in this guide, we’re keeping things nice and simple. All you’ll need are the following materials:
- A sheet of plain, unlined A4 paper
- One or two pencils: 2B, HB or both will be absolutely fine.
- A pencil sharpener: you’ll want a sharp pencil for the details at the end of this drawing.
- An eraser might be useful, if you want to partially remove some of the guidelines in this drawing – but it’s not essential.
Check out our guide to the best drawing pencils for some recommended supplies.
How to draw a dog step by step
The trick with dog drawing is to focus on building the general shape of the anatomy, rather than getting too bogged down in details like eyes, paws and fur.
There is, of course, no generic kind of dog. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – after all, you’ll never mistake a drawing of a labrador for a drawing of a chihuahua.
But here’s the thing about dogs: for all their differences in breed, they all remain very much the same quadruped mammal. Every single dog has the same number of limbs, joints and the same essential musculature – and it’s these things that we’re going to keep in mind in this demonstration.
Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to have a veterinary degree to follow this tutorial. Much like human figure drawing, it’s pretty simple to put together the canine form using a series of basic geometric shapes. And once you’ve mastered this basic side profile of a dog, you’ll find it’s easy to apply it to all sorts of other poses and positions.
So, let’s get started. In this example, we’re not aiming to draw any particular breed of dog – let’s see what emerges!
You Will Need
- Pencils (1 or 2), HB and 2B
- Pencil sharpener
- Eraser or putty rubber
Let’s start with two circles, the left-hand one a little larger than the right-hand one, with a small gap in-between. They needn’t be perfectly circular: don’t slow yourself down at this stage by being a perfectionist. These will form the main body of the dog.
Now, above them, let’s draw a smaller circle overlapping with an even smaller circle. These will form the basis of the dog’s skull and muzzle. Don’t worry, your dog won’t have a cartoon snout like Goofy: this is simple a rough guide.
Connect the three biggest circles with a series of lines. Try to make them taper instead of being perfectly straight: you’re not drawing a robot dog. See how in just three steps you can already see the dog start to appear?
Here’s where it starts to get a bit more difficult. Measure roughly a third up either circle of the body: this is where the dog’s legs connect with its body.
What’s interesting about a canine leg is that it has exactly the same number of joints as a human leg, simply with different ratios. A dog, by comparison to a human, has enormous feet and walks on its tip-toes.
An easy way to draw a dog’s leg in shorthand is by drawing a kind of flattened sickle shape, then adding in four points along the way.
Now our dog is really starting to take shape. Add in sweeping lines, almost like breeches, for the upper part of the dog’s legs. The lower legs are spindly. Draw little boxes for the paws.
Add in a tail, and don’t worry if it looks a bit wormy at this point. What’s really fun about drawing a dog is how much character you can convey by the tail: if it’s erect, your dog is excited and happy; if down, your dog is nervous or unsure.
The head is where dogs really start to differ: think about how the muzzle of a dachshund compares to the muzzle of a pug, for example. In this demonstration, we’ll keep detail light. Lets add a basic triangle for an eye, and a box for the nose.
Now, with a darker pencil, let’s turn these geometric shapes into an actual creature. The key is to use wispy lines around the outlines of the dog to suggest its fur. Change the length of the lines depending on the length of the fur.
Add the ears (droopy here) at the very back of the dog’s skull. For the outline of the muzzle, where there’s little flesh, you can use straighter lines.
Since we’ve got this far, let’s bring a bit more life to our canine creation. A spot of shading gives this dog a bit more substance on the paper, and we’ve also added the other two legs, which we’ve made darker to suggest some depth.
A basic horizontal line is an easy way to give your dog a bit of context. Why not finish your drawing with a few extra details – a dinner bowl or a dog toy perhaps?
You’ve finished our how to draw a dog step by step guide. We hope you found it useful! If you want to continue developing your drawing skills, take a look at our pencil drawings for beginners guide, step by step flower drawing guide and our how to draw a cat easy step by step guide.
This demo follows a dog in a basic position, but you’ll be able to take all these basic shapes and lines and translate them into different postures. Using the circles and lines above, try to draw a dog jumping for a ball, or rolling around with its paws in the air – we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
The best way to learn how to draw animals is to work from life – but when it comes to dogs, this comes with challenges. Although they’ll never stay still for long periods, if you sketch them rapidly, you can capture the essence of their postures and then add to them using the methods in our guide.
One great way to learn to draw the specifics of a dog, such as its snout, paws or fur, is to wait for it to fall asleep. Then finally you’ll have a model that keeps still!