How to Draw a Realistic Animal

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STEP 1. Hi! I'm really excited to share "How to Draw a Mountain Ram." However, I would like to start out with the picture to this step that shows what pencils I use to get those wonderful contrasts and details – along with how their lead appears in crosshatch, line, and circular shading. The leads start from light (H=hard) to dark (B=soft). Also I would like to mention, the wonderful thing about mechanical pencils is that their lead is always sharp. The catch is when it runs out, you have to change it. The second half of the picture shows my very dark graphite pencils and blending stumps. You can actually shade a little with blending stumps without the graphite or you can rub the stump with something like a 2B pencil and shade darker with it. Try these tools out. They go a really long way in creating a beautiful and realistic picture.   STEP 2. I received permission from a good friend of mines at DeviantArt – Krista Sitton Photography also known as Wordpainter81. This is her photograph that she took of a Mountain Ram at the FW Zoo. Also a great tip for tone and value is to turn the color reference photo to black and white (monotone).   STEP 3. To start, sketch in the curved shape for horns, circles for head and body mass. Then draw in the stick legs. As you see, drawing perspective lines really help with placing your ram on the page. Also using these guidelines help for accuracy in drawing the ram. Do not worry about jagged lines or lines out of place. Just sketch lightly with your No. 2 pencil, which is equivalent to an HB lead for a mechanical pencil.   STEP 4. I placed the guidelines of the ram to reference the outline, along with the guidelines. Please continue to draw lightly the Ram's horn, eyes, mouth, “beard”, chest, torso, legs, and rump. Take your time and do not rush. If you do not want to smudge your picture, place a sheet of paper beneath your drawing hand.   STEP 5. For your convenience, here is the full picture of the crude outline. The next picture will show you where to place more features. Notice the horns already have indication of the humps (like joint connections). Take your time with drawing those for accuracy. Also make sure you make that curve for the rock he is standing on in the foreground. If you become impatient, fight it because it is your enemy. Your concentration and carefulness is needed. Try putting on your headphones and have fun listening to your play list. It helps me to concentrate.   STEP 6. Here is a great opportunity to add the ram's hair fluff and more definition on his horns. Remember those perspective lines? Here is where they come into play. Draw in the rock and its shadow, which lines up with the Ram's torso. Add some sketch lines to represent the rocks in the background.   STEP 7. Take your No.2 pencil or 2H mechanical pencil for the finer hairs. As you are drawing the hairs, use small sweeping strokes that goes in the direction of the fur. You can either observe the reference picture or this step's picture. For the darker areas, either use more layers and pressure with the No.2 pencil or grab a 2B and easily shade in the darker areas. We are not blending yet.   STEP 8. I've continued to add more definition to the horns, extending the lines from the humps and adding more curved lines along the length of those beautiful horns. Take a 2B pencil or go very darkly with your No. 2 pencil on the back horns, face, fur, “beard”, and legs. Always shade or stroke in the direction of the object—in this case the horns, fur, legs, and beard. Stroke as if your combing or brushing the animal.   STEP 9. Now take a tissue and lightly blend over the fur, don't blend over his mane, leave that white. To blend over the dark small areas like his horn or legs, use a blending stump. You do not want to lose your details as you blend. And, again, go in the direction of the fur.   STEP 10. For more definition and shading, take a tortillon and add more shading between the humps of the horn. Also shade with the tortillon along the length of the horn to deepen the ridges. To give the Ram a fluffy and furry look, take your No.2 pencil (or mechanical) and add more fur strokes lightly. Try mimicking the drawing. Observe closely to where the shadows deepen near the belly and hind legs.   STEP 11. This next step goes further into the background. I switched between my 2B mechanical and 9B pencil while shading near the Ram's horns. I took the paper and twisted it around to stay in the same direction as the horns. I'm going to tell you a secret. I have always been afraid to do rocks, even when I did this. BUT because of learning certain techniques, I have become adventurous. Sandpaper can be your friend. You can find a 180-grit sandpaper at your local hardware store. It works. Keep shading with your pencil and blending stump with the sandpaper underneath your drawing. In turn, that intriguing gritty texture makes your rocks pop out. Always look at your reference to compare shapes and tones with the picture you are drawing. With practice, this eye to hand coordination becomes easier.   STEP 12. Notice how the darker tone is mimicking the reference picture. All the background is now sketched in. The next step will have the background shaded and blended in.   STEP 13. Since we have a large area to blend, take a tissue knot it and blend. Go in the direction of the sketch marks. Then take your kneaded eraser and lighten up the mane and certain hairs. You will need to look at the reference picture closely to see which hairs need lightening. You can use this step's picture for observation.   STEP 14. For those of you who find it difficult to draw in tiny background details like leaves, shrubbery, grass, etc. Do not alarm, because the kneaded rubber eraser is a wonderful device. While it can pick up graphite in shaded areas, it does not leave any messy shavings! But my dilemma is that I fail at making clear and precise shapes with the kneaded eraser. Notice in this picture near the top, undefined leaves and brush. Then to the lower right of the Ram are grass stems that blur into the background. The next step gives a tip that you might find helpful to resolve this.   STEP 15. This is where composition or designing skills come in. First, you want your Mountain Ram to pop out or be the center of attention. So I did not make his face and lower torso area as dark as the reference. Also I did not want to add too much detail to the background. I wanted an impression of the shrubbery, grass, weeds, and rocks. The tool that really helps me in this situation is White Titanium Acrylic Paint. This is fantastic for strongly highlighted areas like the light against the dark part of his horn, the fur on his hind legs contrasting against the rough rocks, the dots representing grass seeds or buds. I had noticed I needed definition for the gray tone shrubbery leaves in the background. I simply mixed a tiny bit of acrylic black with white and took that gray to paint in more defined leaves—including the grass in between and on the rocks. TIP: Before applying the paint, I sprayed my picture with a workable fixative so the graphite would not mix with the paint. Remember, this is not a high-definition realistic drawing. It is plainly a realistic drawing. If you have gotten this far in your drawing, I congratulate your for your patience, diligence, and love of this art. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you comment. Let me know if this tutorial helped you, if you enjoyed it or you have something to say. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks, everyone. Love and peace to you all.   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10. Step 11. Step 12. Step 13. Step 14. Step 15.