Creating Animals Like A Pro

I am sure that you always wanted to sketch a cat or dog but you could never tell where to begin or how to approach the design. What I am going to tell you below actually applies to every form that you wish to draw, animals, people, or objects.

Design Fundamentals are based on simple forms and this is very very very important when it comes to drawing. And it applies to everything from letters to objects and chibi sketching. You need shapes.

Here is an example:

And you need references, a reference can be any picture you can find that inspires you to break it down into shapes and start analyzing it. It really doesn’t matter as long as the use is only for reference and it’s personal. The images we host here (and in the video are from the Unsplash gallery) and we ought to refer it since we make use of their images for publication.

But back to our topic Starting to break down forms from organic to basic shapes is the most important step you can take. After a while and after some practice your eye is going to analyze a scene exactly into that, grasping the basic shapes of the world around you. And this helps your memory because it simplifies and in a way rationalizes the world around you.

Let’s go back to our dog example and let’s see the basic shapes that construct him:

We can see the circular head, the square snout, the rectangular body, and the triangular ears. I want you to pay attention to 3 main body parts: the head, the ribs (which are forming the front square), and the pelvis. These 3 main body parts construct the anatomy of every animal and they are always present even if the pose does not permit us to see them. But as a designer, you must be fully aware of the body parts even if they don’t appear in the reference photos.

Here we don’t see the pelvis or we hardly see it at the left dog but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Here is where anatomy comes in.

The pelvis connects to the back legs. In the above image, I drew, you can see the pelvis in a simple artistic sketch defined with a circle and connecting to the back foot. Other remarks show that the spine connects to the tail and the rib cages are a major part that defines the front.

The anatomy of the legs…

The legs are from the harder shapes to draw. Especially animals have their own skeleton/bone structure. So it’s essential to follow it. You can keep the above design as a reference. The front legs as you can see are ruled by 3 different bones and the back out of four. When you sketch you want to memorize the structure of the bones as this will help you reproduce it to your sketch no matter how simplified it can be.


1/ Learn by references

2/Break down into basic shapes

3/ Simplify so that your memory has an anchor

4/ Endorse the basic anatomy and try to sketch accordingly.

5/ It can take you a while until you learn to draw with confidence without references. This is absolutely normal. You are learning.

Here you can watch my quick sketching of a puppy from reference:

And remember practice makes perfect.

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