How to Draw a Red Panda From the Tropical Rain Forest

Written by greg turin
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How to Draw a Red Panda From the Tropical Rain Forest
Red pandas navigate treetops with their nimble physique. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Red pandas are a beautiful, but endangered species that live in the temperate and tropical forests around the Himalayas. They have a unique brown-orange coat and are slightly larger than a house cat. With their excellent climbing skills, they survive among tree branches while eating primarily bamboo. Their slender anatomical structure, combined with a bushy coat make, for exciting drawing material. You can learn to draw their dynamic physique and personality by practicing a few basic steps.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Quality drawing pencil
  • Eraser
  • Drawing paper

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  1. 1

    Choose a posture and perspective. Look at reference photos and videos to get a sense of how red pandas look from different angles. Find an inspiring posture you want to draw. Because the red panda is such a unique and nimble animal, using reference photos will greatly aid in drawing.

  2. 2

    Sketch the basic and largest forms lightly. Use basic curved shapes such as ovals and circles for the head, torso, bushy tail and thick upper legs. Draw lightly and loosely to sculpt and refine the shapes rather than trying to draw any precise lines. Continue looking back and forth between your drawing and any reference material while loosely defining the larger body parts. You are building the underlying structural framework upon which to add detail later.

  3. 3

    Sketch in subtler body parts. Draw the small muzzle while paying attention to its size in relationship to the large head. If it is too big it will look more like a dog. Add the eyes, nose and ears. If necessary, look at several different pictures to better understand the subtler anatomy, such as how the legs and paws look. Add the curved retractable claws. Refrain from drawing fur colours or textures while continuing to focus on structure. Draw increasingly articulate lines until the basic shapes start to form a coherent whole.

  4. 4

    Draw shadows. Dark areas are often underneath its belly and on the sides of their arms. Focus on larger shadow areas before going into detailed areas in its fur. Shadows will add realistic and dramatic effects to your drawing by making the shapes look three-dimensional. Practice drawing gradations from dark to light, such as around the curves of the red panda's legs and torso. Gradations add volume and presence.

  5. 5

    Draw fur textures. Sketch in the variations of darkness in the panda's fur, such as stripes in its tail, black legs and the white face. The fur patterns around each red panda's face are unique, like a signature, so articulate them in your drawing. Experiment with using the pencil in different ways to convey fur texture. Try sketching with the side of the graphite and holding the pencil in different ways. You do not need to draw every strand of fur. Drawing a few individual strands in key locations, such as around the perimeter, suggests an entire coat of fur. Continue adding details and darkening the shadows until the drawing feels complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Observe the red panda in motion to better understand its forms. Its bushy fur conceals a dynamic underlying physique that is best noticed when it is in movement.

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