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How to Draw a Giraffe
in Four Quick Steps

How to draw a giraffe - main picture

Want to learn how to draw a giraffe but don't know how?

Follow this simple four step tutorial and you'll be drawing this African skyscraper in no time...

Learning how to draw this African skyscraper isn't difficult if you follow the simple four step procedure below.

All we're doing is using several basic shapes to draw animals to provide the rough outline.

This gets your proportions right from the outset, so when you come to draw in the more accurate, detailed lines, it's much more straight-forward.

Remember, drawing shouldn't be hard work. Never miss a chance to simplify what your trying to achieve. In art, this usually makes for a better end product anyway.

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How to Draw a Giraffe Stage One

As with other 'how to draw' tutorials, I've overlaid the giraffe  photo with some simple shapes. 

How to draw a giraffe stage 1

You can see that just a few oblongs, triangles and a couple of small ovals is all that's needed here.

You can use other shapes - maybe a large oval for the body and a long, thin triangle for the neck.

Or even a long, narrow oval, if that's how you see it.

It doesn't matter.

It's what shapes that naturally occur to you that you use.

You figure out how to draw a giraffe using whatever shapes you 'see' in your mind.

As long as they work for you, that's all that's important. I've suggested these shapes to help you get started.


How to Draw a Giraffe Stage Two

Now I've removed the photo to leave just the basic shapes in red.

See how even though the shapes are very 'blocky', they actually convey quite convincingly the proportions of a full grown giraffe.

How to draw a giraffe stage 2

I've done these lines in a bright red so you can see them easily on screen.

However, I want you to draw your guidelines very lightly in pencil.

This is so that you'll be able to erase them easily after you've produced your finished drawing.

For the same reason, you should initially do your final drawing quite lightly.

Once you're happy with it, you can go over it with a stronger line - or try using ink, as I do.

Now, once you start adding in the 'rounder', realistic lines of the giraffe in the next section below, you'll be much more confident of keeping them accurate.

Remember, if you can keep your lines light at this stage, then if you get them wrong you can easily erase them and keep trying till you get it right.


How to Draw a Giraffe Stage Three

Here, I've started to ink in the final outline. The guidelines have been lightened in strength to a pale pink so you can see the 'proper' lines a bit easier.

How to draw a giraffe stage 3

Notice the giraffe's distinctive head. But remember to keep things simple.

What may look like complex shapes for the feet are little more than triangles.

Similarly, the eyes are no more than a rounded 'v' shape. I haven't yet tried to add the patterns of the giraffe, which as you can see, are quite distinctive.

That's in the next section.

For now, just concentrate on completing your realistic outline. Remember, keep your lines light so it's easy to erase them and re-draw if necessary.


How to Draw a Giraffe Stage Four

In this 'how to draw a giraffe' article, I've simplified things by just drawing outlines of the pattern and shaded each of the shapes at the end.

There's also an alternative way to put in these shapes which I've mentioned further on.

Notice how the patterns are smaller and less concentrated underneath the giraffe and on the legs.

In fact the lower legs are completely white from the knees down.

I've added an extra sketch here to highlight these very distinctive pattern markings on the animal.

How to draw a giraffe stage 4a

When working out how to draw a giraffe's particular markings, take a look at the photo at the top of the page.

Better still, look at a selection of photos of several different giraffes.

You'll start to get a feel for how the markings vary, even though at first they all appear to be identical.

See how those on our model appear to have almost been applied with a rubber stamp, they're that precise.

I've also sketched the tail the same size and in a similar position to what appears on the main photo. However, I'm going to adjust that because I don't think it stands out enough and it looks like it's been chopped off.

Human beings will accept this sort of thing in a photograph, but they will be critical of a drawing like this - "Oh look, the artist's forgotten to put his tail in! Poor Giraffe..."

In the final sketch, you can see we've now completed the drawing and hatched in the patterns and shadows. As I've just mentioned, I've also redrawn the tail, making it longer and a little further away from the body. I've also made the horns very slightly more prominent than in the photo.

How to draw a giraffe final stageHow to Draw a Giraffe

This is where you should always adjust what's in a photo to improve your own composition, rather than copying it slavishly.

Thus, as you learn how to draw a giraffe, you're using it as a useful reference tool but bringing your own individual interpretation to your picture.

Now back to the body markings for a moment.

If you're feeling really confident, instead of drawing random shapes on the giraffe's body and then shading them, you could try lightly shading the whole of the giraffe (when you've completed the final outline).

Then create the white lines with a putty eraser pulled to a point.

This will give a softer, more natural effect. Try a small section on some scrap paper first.

Finally, I've added a tree in the background and some long grasses.

This places the giraffe in its natural habitat and the tree helps to emphasise the height of our long-legged friend. Always try to include a background detail like this.

It helps the viewer to understand the scale of your subject in the context of its surroundings.

So there we are. 'How to draw a giraffe' in four small steps - well to be precise, fairly large ones with legs like his!

I hope you found this 'How to Draw a Giraffe' article helpful.


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