How to Draw Buffalo Faces

Written by matt scheer
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How to Draw Buffalo Faces
This African buffalo sports the sharply-crescent horns its species its species is known for. (African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) image by Lars Lachmann from

The three most well-known buffaloes are the water buffalo, the African buffalo, and the American buffalo. These buffaloes have similarities and differences to each other in terms of their facial looks. The water buffalo has the most angular, drawn, and long face, as well as the longest horns. The African buffalo has an exceptionally protruding forward body, smaller horns than the water buffalo, and much less hair than the American buffalo. The American buffalo has the widest, furriest face of all three. Accounting for these differences will make your drawing more realistic.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pencils
  • Drawing paper

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  1. 1

    Pick which type of buffalo--American buffalo, African buffalo, or Asian water buffalo--you wish to draw. The African buffalo is usually the easiest to draw, followed by the water buffalo. The American buffalo is often the most difficult due to all of the fur.

  2. 2

    Sketch a rectangle that is longer than it is wide. This forms the basic shape of the top of the buffalo's skull, including the forehead and horn mounts. Draw this shape as gently as you can so that by the end of your illustration it is not visible, since it's simply a guide to help you find the right shape for your buffalo. If you're drawing the American buffalo, draw a second rectangle exactly like the first and abutting it, to account for the exceptionally large head.

  3. 3

    Draw another rectangle that has the same dimensions as the first rectangle you drew but turned at a 90-degree angle. Draw this shape so that it is at the centre of the long side of the first rectangle. This new rectangle forms the basic snout and mouth shape of your buffalo. If you're drawing the African buffalo, add some extra length to this second rectangle.

  4. 4

    Draw an arc at either side of the vertical rectangle so that it connects the lower corners of the vertical rectangle to the bottom corners of the horizontal rectangle. These arcs act as the cheek shapes for your buffalo.

  5. 5

    Draw an eye just outside of the intersection of the top corners of the vertical rectangle's top two corners and the bottom side of the horizontal rectangles. Keep in mind that the buffalo's eyes face more outward than forward and slope backward above the cheeks.

  6. 6

    Smooth out the corners of all the rectangles into arcs to match the rounded features of the buffalo.

  7. 7

    Place the horns at the sides of the horizontal rectangle. Draw each horn as long and tall as the horizontal rectangle for the African buffalo. Draw each horn in a semicircle that has the same height as the horizontal rectangle for the water buffalo. Draw two simple arcs above a third of the length of the horizontal rectangle for the American buffalo, since it has the most diminutive horns of all three.

  8. 8

    Render the skin in cross hatching for the water buffalo and African buffalo. Render the fur for the American buffalo by shading in large swathes of the face and then gently erasing at different depths to give a mottled, hairy effect. Draw some hairs in sharply to highlight the hairy look.

  9. 9

    Trace over your work with denser pencil lead or by applying more pressure in order to bring out the shape of the face and make it more striking on paper. Remember to shade according to the dimensions of the skull, i.e., drawing the cheeks more darkly because they slope away from the front of the face and would be in shadow.

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