How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph

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Your Citation
South, Helen. "How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph." ThoughtCo, Jul. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312. South, Helen. (2017, July 28). How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312 South, Helen. "How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312 (accessed September 22, 2017).
01
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Gather Your Drawing Materials

a photo of a cute puppy dog
Dog reference photo. H South

You don't need to be a skilled artist in order to draw a picture of your dog. All you need is a photo of your four-legged friend and a few basic drawing supplies. This simple lesson will show you how to draw a dog in just a few steps. 

Begin by choosing a suitable reference photo to work from. It doesn't really matter what the photo is like as long as your dog's face is clearly visible. Three-quarter profile shots are always attractive, but you might find it easier to work with a picture where your dog is directly facing the camera. That way, it will be easier to sketch your pet's facial features.  

You will also need some sketch paper, a drawing pencil, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener.

Once you've gathered your materials, find a comfortable, well-lit place to work and get started drawing your dog!

02
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Block in Your Dog's Face

Drawing a dog
beginning the dog drawing. H South

On a blank sheet of paper, begin by sketching a reference line to indicate the center of your dog's face. This is called "blocking in" the features and is the first step in any drawing. Make sure the reference line runs between the ears and eyes and through the middle of your dog's nose.

Check that the angle matches your source photo. Notice that there's a slight outward curve in the line through the dog's eyes; they aren't completely forward on the head. This will vary depending on the breed of dog.

Next, sketch the curve at the tip of the nose, the mouth, and chin. Pay attention to the spot where the plane changes here as well.

Now that you've blocked in the basic shape, you should be able to keep the features lined up as you draw.

03
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Outline the Full Head

sketch the dogs head
sketching the dog's head. H South

With the basic lines of your dog's face blocked in, you can sketch the head in more detail. Use a light touch as you draw; these guidelines should be faint so they can be erased later in the process. 

Sketch a curved line where the back of the muzzle meets the head and two lines down the face to give the muzzle some dimension. You can add hints of fur by adding a few loose lines along the shoulders and neck.

Next, sketch your dog's eyes, making sure the pupils are lined up. Then add the nose and ears. As you draw, note where there are changes of plane near the eyes.

04
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Start Drawing Details

the dog drawing in progress
the dog drawing in progress. H South

You have the basic structure and the outline, now it's time to fill in some details. This is the stage where your dog's portrait really starts to get form and personality.

Add some faint lines near the eyes, forehead, and neck to suggest folds of skin and ruffles of fur. These marks should be gestural; don't spend too much time thinking about where to place them or whether to add shading. The trick is to look, think, and set the lines down with confidence.

05
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Block in the Shadows

dog drawing - observing the subject
dog drawing - observing the subject. H South

Observation is an important step in drawing any subject. This is particularly true of portraits, whether they are of people or pets. Pay attention to where the highlights and shadows fall across your dog's face. These details are what will give your drawing a sense of realism and depth.

Begin by adding a bit of rough shading to indicate the shadows. In this example, the light is coming from top-left, making the lower right side slightly darker. There are also shadows under the dog's ears.

You don't want to shade everything in the drawing. Instead, "reserve" or leave some parts of the paper unshaded to suggest highlights in the eyes, nose, and fur. Work from dark to light as you shade, adding strokes in layers to create texture.

06
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Add Shading and Definition

how to shade fur - shading the dog's fur
H South

Now that you've outlined the shadows and highlights of your dog's face, you can begin to focus on the details. Begin by gently erasing the guidelines you created so they're no longer visible.

Next, use your pencil to add more subtle detail. Use a light touch because it's easier to add more shadow than it is to erase it when you go too dark. Work from dark to light across the entire surface of the drawing, gradually building up the texture.

Adjust your line length accordingly with your dog's fur. Use soft strokes where fur is short and harder strokes where it's long. You can use the eraser to work back over white fur to brighten it and create a softer look.

07
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Sketch the Eyes and Nose

adding fur texture and detail
adding fur texture. H South

Careful, smooth shading keeps the eyes looking bright and shiny. Keep your pencil sharp and use small, fine movements to create a smooth texture.

Your dog's leathery nose gets smooth, even shading too. Use the eraser to work back into darker areas to soften marks as needed to enhance dimensionality.

Remember that this is a sketch, not a photorealist drawing. You want to keep the drawing fresh and energetic, so don't get too obsessed about detail.

08
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Add the Final Details

the finished dog sketch
the finished dog sketch. H South

It's time to finish your drawing. Use your eraser to soften any marks that are too dark or intense. Then, use your pencil to finish the fur with even, hatched shading, particularly on the shadowed side of the face. Use coarse marks for long fur and fine marks for short fur.

Remember, the more you observe the small changes of fur tone and texture, the finer the hair will look. The amount of final detail you choose to add will depend on how much time you want to devote to the sketch.

It is ultimately up to you if you'd like a detailed sketch or one that's a little more impressionistic. Have fun and put the pencil down whenever you're happy with the drawing.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
South, Helen. "How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph." ThoughtCo, Jul. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312. South, Helen. (2017, July 28). How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312 South, Helen. "How to Draw a Dog From a Photograph." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/easy-dog-sketching-tutorial-1123312 (accessed September 22, 2017).