How to Draw Animal Skulls

Updated February 21, 2017

Skulls are complex, three-dimensional objects, making it a challenge to draw them. Be prepared to practice developing your skills to create a lifelike interpretation of an animal's skull. Each skull is slightly different in shape, size and form, so it is important you look at it closely. You can use charcoal, paint or coloured pencils to fill in shadowing effects of the skull. However, in the beginning keep it simple by using a lead pencil.

Obtain a picture of the animal's skull you want to interpret. Skulls contain large vacant areas, like the eye sockets and nose cavity, and to position these suitably it is useful to have a reference point to copy from.

Draw a large circle. Find the centre point by drawing a vertical line directly down the middle of the circle, and then draw a horizontal line crossing directly through it. This is a good way to find out where to position the nose.

Hold your pencil loosely and sketch the outline of the animal's skull. Look at the contour of the upper half of the skull to distinguish what animal it is. For example, a dog has a shallow, elongated skull that points forward, whereas an elephant's skull is much larger and rounded at the top.

Position the eye openings on the skull. Take into account the size of the animal's eyes, and this can easily be achieved by referring back to the picture you are copying from. Note where the eye sockets are in relation to the nose and mouth to place them correctly.

Create the jawline. Use the circle and cross you drew in Step 2 to find out where to draw the jaw bone. It should begin at the point where the horizontal line meets the edge of the circle, or just below. If it is higher than this, then you are drawing it in the incorrect position.

Add the teeth. Each animal has different shaped teeth which can be used to determine what type of creature it is. A crocodile, for example, will have a very long jaw with many small, pointy teeth whereas a bird's skull will be much smaller and intricate with fewer teeth.

Give the drawing shading. The vacant holes in the animal's skull need to be shaded the darkest, and consequently change the feel of the drawing. Use this to your advantage by giving an animal such as a wolf a more eerie appearance. Shade dark eye sockets to achieve this.

Vary the length of your pencil stroke to change the dimension of the skull. Long sweeping lines imply depth and length--which can be used to communicate an elongated jawline or wide forehead.

Check the proportions of your picture by glancing back and forth between the image of the skull you are copying from, and your drawing. Check that each feature of the skull is positioned and shaded correctly. To test this, ask a friend if they recognise what type of animal's skull it is.

Things You'll Need

  • Picture of a skull
  • Eraser
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About the Author

Based in Bristol, Philippa Jones has been a music journalist and script writer since 2007, working across a range of radio programs in the U.K. and Australia. Her articles have appeared in "Impact Magazine," "The Mic" and in local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from the University of Nottingham.