Drawing Animals: From Anatomy to Rendering

Learn how to draw animals like an expert - quickly, easily and pain free
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  • Lectures 46
  • Length 8.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 7/2014 English

Course Description

>>Over 1,400 students!<<

This course teaches you the essentials of drawing animals. There's over 8 hours of high definition, high quality content covering drawing skills, animal anatomy, and rendering. In Part 1 you'll learn valuable exercises to:

- Develop your observation skills and

- Improve your ability to draw 3D objects.

These skills will set you in good stead for mastering the rest of the course.

In Part 2 we go through general animal anatomy. You will learn about the anatomical features common to most animals, making it easier for you to learn how to draw any animal. I discuss the different parts of an animal's body, it's skeleton and muscles, and how size affects animal anatomy.

Then there is the main body of the course. Here you will learn how draw individual species. In easy, step-by-step tutorials you will be guided through steps to drawing animals' heads and bodies from a variety of views. These tutorials are where you will apply the knowledge you have learned in parts 1 & 2.

Species you will learn to draw include:

  • horses
  • eagles
  • big cats (like lions, tigers and leopards)
  • small cats (like your friendly house cat)
  • wolves
  • and more...

Finally you will finish the course learning how to render your animal drawings. Here you will learn the basics of drawing light and shadow. You will also learn how to render animals' eyes, fur and feathers.

What are the requirements?

  • Pencil and paper - that's all!

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Learn basic observation skills and techniques for visualising 3D forms
  • Learn and understand the fundamental elements of animal anatomy
  • Develop the knowledge and skills to draw a wide variety of animal species including cats, horses, wolves, eagles and more
  • Develop an understanding of lighting, and skills for rendering your animal illustrations

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who wants to draw animals - great for people with no drawing skills, basic drawing skills, or intermediate drawing skills

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

This video will help you get the most out of this course. It also includes a brief description of who I am and why I am teaching you to draw animals.

Section 2: General Drawing Fundamentals

Before we focus on drawing animals we need to cover basics about drawing. At its highest level, drawing is a combination of two skills:

  1. Observation skills
  2. Rotating 3D objects in your head (which can also be referred to as visualising 3D objects)

In this video I explain what these terms mean, and demonstrate with some examples.


Get your pencil and paper ready! This video will help you strengthen your observation skills. You don't need to practice this technique with the same picture I have used - it's just an example. If you're not feeling this exercise, feel free to try the other observation skill exercises first.


Another exercise to strengthen your observation skills. Again, if this one isn't your cup of tea, don't feel that you have to do the exercises in order.


This exercise is strange and enlightening the first time you try it. I highly recommend this exercise if you've never done it before!


This is the final exercise for honing your observation skills. All of these exercises are worth revisiting multiple times.


Now that we've covered observation skills, it's time to learn more about rotating and visualising 3D objects in your imagination. This video has an exercise that helps you do just that.


Another exercise for rotating and visualising 3D objects. This one's a bit tricky. I recommend that you do this exercise multiple times.

Section 3: General Animal Anatomy & Proportions

So far we've covered a lot about drawing. Now we focus more heavily on our subject matter - animals! We cover some important principles about animal anatomy and proportions in this video. This lesson is crucial! Make sure you watch it before going further.

Section 4: Big Cats and Small Cats

The big cats - lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars - are all closely related. You can draw all of them using the same basic rules. This lesson demonstrates how to draw their faces from front view.


Small cats include your humble domestic cat, and a wide variety of other species. In this lesson I demonstrate how to draw a domestic cat's face from front view. The techniques in this video are broadly applicable to most small cat species.


Having learned their faces from front view, we now cover feline faces from side view. I decided to draw them side-by-side. It will help illustrate one or two of the principles discussed in "General Animal Anatomy & Proportions" lecture.


Time for something a bit more challenging! You've honed your observation skills on the front and side view lessons - now we apply those anatomical learnings to a '3D' model.


Same as the previous lecture, but focused on the smaller species of the cat family - this particular drawing is of a domestic cat.


You know how to draw the head. Now it's time to apply that to the full animal.


Small and large cats have very similar bodies. So rather than repeat most of the previous video I thought you get more from learning a different pose. This really is the archetypal cat pose.

Section 5: Horses

Horses are quite difficult animals to draw. But they can be mastered with practice. Most of the techniques for drawing horses can also be applied to drawing zebras and donkeys. Here we cover the head from side view.


Here we work more on those observation skills, drawing the horse's head from front view.


We turn it up a notch on the difficulty scale here by adding the third dimension. Challenging? Maybe, but I think you will find the result well worth it!


You've done some observation work and 3D visualisation work on the head. Now it's time to learn the horse's body. Again, horses have quite difficult anatomy to master, so be patient.


This could be the most challenging lesson in the entire course. But it also teaches you a technique that you can apply to any animal - drawing the body in 3D perspective! Feel free to move on and come back later if this is too difficult for you.

Section 6: Wolves

Wolves can be fun to draw. Because they are the basis for all domestic dog breeds, you will be able to apply these rules when drawing dogs as well. I decided the best place to start was with the face from front view. Notice how that long snout can be portrayed from front view on a flat piece of paper. A valuable lesson.


Much like the previous animals, we now cover the wolf's face from side view. This will demand more from your observation skills than your 3D visualisation skills.


In this video we take the wolf head proportions we learned in the previous two lectures and apply them in a 3D context.


Despite the obvious similarities, there are some important differences between canine and feline bodies. We cover that and more in this lecture.

Section 7: Cows/Cattle

Cattle, cows, bulls, bovines... call them what you will. They may not be the most exciting animal to draw, but you can draw quite an impressive profile for these animals with surprisingly little effort.


Like the profile view, the cow's face from front view can be surprisingly rewarding and fun! Who said cows aren't charismatic animals?


The bovine body is an important exercise. If nothing else you will see how different they are from cats, horses and wolves. I recommend that you give this a go - it will help if you ever want to try more unusual animal bodies like elephants, rhinos and hippos.

Section 8: Bird Wing Anatomy

Bird wings can be difficult and time consuming to draw, but if you want to draw birds this video is essential. The bird wing is comprised of numerous bones, muscles and feathers. This lecture teaches you to draw bird wings by covering the basics of each of those anatomical features.

Section 9: Eagles

Drawing an eagle's head from side view is easier than you may think. The techniques in this video will show you how master this majestic bird's appearance. If you struggle a bit with getting the curves right, just know that it's worth persisting. They're a lot of fun to draw!


It may not be as interesting or as cool as the eagle's head from side view, but this lecture will help you master the next lesson about drawing the eagle's head in 3D.


In the previous two videos you learned the proportions of the eagle's head from different views. In this video we combine that with skill of rotating 3D objects in your head. This video will develop your ability to visualise 3D objects.


Birds bodies change shape quite dramatically when they are in flight. In this video you will learn a bit more about bird anatomy, making it easier for you to draw a bird in flight. We will also apply some of what you learned about the wing in the "Bird Wing Anatomy" video.


Perched birds look very different from birds in flight. This video will explain how to draw an eagle in a perched position.

Section 10: Ducks

This is not an essential animal to learn. But it is easy to draw. This is a good video if you want to build your skills and confidence with a little less effort.


Similar to the previous lecture, this is an easy and fun little bird to draw.

Section 11: Rendering

This lecture will teach you about the different types of light and shadow. There's more to it than you might think!


In this video we apply what you learned in the last lecture to an animal drawing. In this video you will learn more about the interaction between light, shadow and solid 3D shapes.


Now that you have a better understanding of lighting and shadow from the previous lectures, we will cover some different aesthetics for drawing light and shadow on your animals.


Eyes are a special case when it comes to rendering. Getting eyes right will also add a lot of power to your animal drawings. That's why this lecture focuses exclusively on eyes, especially how their structure interacts with light and shadow.


Fur is a common anatomical trait in animals. There are a lot of different techniques for rendering it, some of which we cover in this lecture.


In this lecture we cover a few more techniques for rendering fur. Mastering a few techniques for rendering fur will add a lot of impact to your drawings.


Because cats are popular animals, I thought it would be useful to add in a little additional content about them - free of charge!

Cats have quite unique patterning. This video shows you how to render the patterning on their faces.


Much like the previous bonus lecture, but now we cover an even more popular animal - the tiger! For more about drawing tigers, revisit the videos about drawing big cats.

Section 12: Conclusion

Thank you and well done!

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Instructor Biography

Geoffrey Jacobs, Drawing Expert

Hi, my name is Geoff and I'm a professional illustrator.

From a young age I have had a passion for drawing, inspired by comics, cartoons and the animal world. I taught myself to draw, and now I want to teach you!

Whether you want to draw for fun, or professionally, I want your drawing experience to be as easy as possible. I do this by pointing out simple observations that most students miss, and by sharing lessons from my 27 years of drawing experience.

I'll give you tips I learned when studying a Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, Australia and knowledge I gained while working professionally in animation and illustration.

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