Animals can be some of the most difficult things to draw. Some painters specialise in animals, especially wildlife, and are famous for the realism and detail found in their paintings. Others simply want to draw their beloved pet, immortalising it in a work of art. Saint Bernard dogs are large and have shaggy, multicoloured fur coats. They are known for their abilities as rescue dogs and for their gentle dispositions. Every dog has a unique personality; you can try to capture its personality in a drawing by including details particular to the dog.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Sketch pencil
- Paper or Canvass
- Reference image (or dog)
- Props (optional)
Arrange the drawing area with a sketch pencil and paper or canvas ready. Find or take a good picture of the dog you want to paint and place it so that you can easily view it as you draw. Use the actual dog as a model if you can keep it still. Think about how you want the dog to be positioned and whether you want to add other objects or props, such as ball or a dog bowl.
Draw three circles to create a general outline of the dog. Draw a small circle for its head, a large one for its upper body and a slightly smaller one for its lower half. Draw the circles on top of each other at a 45 degree angle if the dog is sitting. Make the size of the circles no larger than the actual width of the dog.
Mark the position of the eyes and nose in the first circle. Use the image or actual dog as a reference and draw a line for the front leg. Start the line at the bottom of the largest circle that represents the upper body.
Sketch the outline of the ear(s) and define the contours by shading in dark areas between folds. Look to where the bottom of the ear ends. Note the dark area below the jaw where the ear hangs down. Don't shade excessively, only enough to indicate light and dark areas.
Draw the Saint Bernard's eyes. They should be on a parallel line, identical in size and looking in the same direction if they are both visible. Focus on the detail of the eye area, including the drooping and folding features. Take your time with the eyes as they are the window to the dog's soul. This is the detail that will make the dog seem real and give it character.
Sketch the tongue hanging out of its mouth. Note that the tongue is opaque and covers the front lower portion of its mouth. Continue to outline the nose and mouth around the tongue. Include details like the nostrils and whiskers and draw a line to indicate how the dark and light fur is distributed around the head and neck.
Draw a rough outline of the fur. Establish the contours by indicating the shaggy pieces of hair. Indicate how the dog's colour patches are laid out. Shade in the darker areas and use jagged lines to simulate the shape of fur. Complete the main outline of the dog.
Erase the circles you created that make your dog image proportional, but do not erase your outline, which will be your new point of reference.
Draw the front and hind legs, paws and the hip. Add more detail by taking note of the bone and muscle structure of the limbs. Draw the paws and the shape of the elbow around the line you have already drawn to indicate the position of the front leg. Keep the line for the front of the leg relatively straight. The visible leg should be far more detailed than the darker hidden leg in the background. Once you have drawn the outline of the front leg, erase the original guide line.
Fill in empty areas with shading and add detail. Look closely at the reference image to fine-tune the drawing. Use fine lines to enhance the dog's personal features and compare their location and proportion with those in the reference image. Features can include marks and spots, the shape of the eyes or particular colour patterns.
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