In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a realistic African elephant step by step from scratch. This tutorial is ideal for beginners. You’ll learn how to plan the pose, how to achieve the correct proportions, and how to add all the body parts and their details. It’s not as difficult as it seems!
1. How to Sketch an Elephant’s Pose
Sketch an oval. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
Attach a vertical oval to it, slightly higher.
Place two slanting lines on the shoulders and the hips.
Draw the ground. It should be about the “shoulder” length long.
Sketch the position of the legs without paying too much attention to their anatomy.
Add the general shape of the head.
2. How to Draw a Simplified Skeleton of an Elephant
Draw the width of the feet on the ground.
Sketch the actual anatomy of the legs; the joints and the direction of the bones. Elephants have very straight legs, and they walk on their fingertips.
Draw flat cushions under the feet.
Draw a cross on the face, keeping in mind that it’s seen in perspective.
Draw the eye sockets.
Draw the forehead.
Draw the cheekbone and the base of the ear.
Draw the tusks.
Draw the direction and length of the trunk.
Draw the direction and length of the tail.
3. How to Draw an Elephant’s Body
We have the basic skeleton, so now it’s time to add some body to it. Draw circles above the feet, in the place of wrists and ankles.
Draw “cups” under them.
Draw big muscle masses in the forearms and thighs.
Sketch the position of the hips.
Draw two mirrored ‘9’s for the ears. They can cover the shoulder.
Close the shape of the ears.
Draw ovals inside ovals to create the basic sketch of the eye.
Sketch the brow.
Draw the width of the trunk all along its length, and then outline it.
Do the same with the tusks.
Add more detailing shapes to the face.
Sketch and outline the tail.
Outline the legs, going around the defining shapes.
Outline the whole body.
Add the elbow.
4. How to Finish the Drawing of an Elephant
We’re going to draw the final lines now. If you’re drawing traditionally, use a darker tool for them, or put a new sheet of paper on top.
Draw the little dark eye and the wrinkles around it.
Outline the head and ears.
Outline the tusks.
Add details to the trunk.
Add details to the face.
Add the toenails. African elephants have four nails on the front feet and three on their back feet, but they’re not all seen in this view.
Outline the body, drawing big wrinkles here and there to show how thick the skin is.
Add more wrinkles all over the body to create a texture of the skin.
If you want, you can shade the elephant with simple cross-hatching.
You did it! If you want to learn more about elephants, for example how to draw the Asian elephant, check out my detailed tutorial below:
And if you want to draw other animals in a simple way, you’ll like these tutorials: