Drawing animals can be daunting for many of us - there's so much to consider, from proportion to character to finding a model willing to sit for several hours! (Disclaimer: Animals do not always make great "life" subjects and so it may be better to work from a photograph to practice.)

You can use a variety of pens, pencils, paints or colouring pencils to draw animals and so the materials needed are no barrier to getting involved. 

Let’s begin with some cartoon animals with simple shapes to start seeing how working with shapes can help you to create the right forms to work with.



1. Draw a long triangle as this will become the nose, then add two circles over the top corners of the triangle.

2. You can then start to draw over the outline of the shape either in pencil, or go for it with pen like we have. We curved the areas by the ears and tip of the nose as well as adding eyes and the rat starts to come to life.

3. Rub out the pencil lines and colour it in, and no one will know you started with just circles and a triangle!



1. Start by drawing a circle, or a slightly wider oval shape.

2. Then add two little semi-circles on the top to create the ears and some fairly large kidney bean shapes that will become the shaded part around the panda's eyes.

3. Add eyes inside these kidney shapes and a nose and mouth underneath.

4. Outline your pencil lines in black pen and colour the kidney bean shapes to finish your panda.



1. Draw a curved-bottomed semi-circle.

2. Add four small sausage shapes at the bottom to create the turtle's legs.

3. Then add a tail and head in pencil at either end of the turtle's shell.

4. Outline in pen, adding details like the turtle's smiley face and shell pattern.



1. Draw a circle overlapping with an oval shape to create the head and body.

2. Add two wing shapes to the circle, as these will be used to create the ears, and add two square boxes to create the closest front and back feet, and tuck another square behind each of these to create the front and back feet on the other side.

3. You are also going to need a trunk! This will be wider at the head than at the end so start by drawing a line - in any direction. We have gone with a trunk moving up in an L shape.

4. When adding pen, you can start to curve the feet and give the lines smoother curves. The ears will be larger at the top than the bottom and depending on whether its an African or Indian elephant to how big you do the ears.

Once you have used the basics to create cartoon style animals, you can also use the same principles to create more realistic animals. We are going to have a look at drawing a horse, because why not go for something that is notorious for being tricky to draw! 


Let’s first start by admitting that this part can take a while. It's quite tricky to create the right shapes. You could work from a photo or artwork and overlay a piece of tracing paper to find the shapes in the image, or just keep looking and changing shapes as you see them.

You will not have to draw all the shapes at once or even half of the shapes we have drawn here:

The two large circles that create the horse's body provide the starting point of the drawing, so we know the back end of the horse is slightly larger than the front, as the circle is slightly bigger. The top of the neck is also a good place to draw another circle, to reflect the moving joint of the horse's neck and jaw.

All the other shapes are a mixture of triangles, rectangles or simply lines joining sections so that we can roughly map out the simple shapes that make up the horse's body.

Using a softer pencil, start to go over the lines, smoothing them together to create curved lines over the shapes. Keep an eye on your reference picture as well as this will help you to see which directions you need to curve the lines. You don’t have to be a perfectionist here - it is just about building out the basic form using your shapes.

At this stage, we traced our drawing onto a piece of watercolour paper, ready to colour in. Of course, you can just rub out the shapes on your piece of paper and leave it as a pencil drawing, or you could have a go at shading using different techniques, or colouring it in with pencils.

To colour with watercolour paints, we used lots of loose brushstrokes, adding some darker areas in sections and lighter areas to add the shimmer you tend to see on a horse as it moves.

What do you think? Did you give it a go? We would simply love to see your drawings, so share them in the comments or on social media.