Elephants drawing elephants.

How to draw an Elephant.

How to draw an Elephant in five easy steps.
Step 1:

In this tutorial on drawing elephants I will show you how to first draw your initial elephant outline using the grid method to copy your elephant from a picture or photo and then in a step by step guide, how to add the details to your elephant, starting from the elephants head and ears and slowly working down the elephants body, building your elephant picture as you go.

To draw my Elephant I will use the Grid method as I find it a much quicker and easier way to reproduce, scale down or enlarge a picture.

The grid method basically means using a grid to divide your picture into equal segments by applying it over the top of the image prior to drawing it. You can then reproduce the image on a fresh piece of paper or sketch pad by also adding a grid to it and this will enable you to copy the image using the grid as a guide for where to draw your lines.

Drawing ElephantsThe first thing you will need to do is to select your Elephant picture either from an online image provider or perhaps a magazine. Once you have done this you can either make a copy of your picture using a photo editing suite or pre-installed paint software, for example, MS Paint or Adobe Photoshop, or if your picture is in a magazine or is perhaps an existing painting for example that you would like to reproduce you can use a scanner to copy the picture to your photo editing suite and print off a copy with your printer that you can then use for a reference.


Marking out your grid.

To mark out your grid you will first need to measure equally down each side of the copied reference picture that you should now have printed off. Using a pencil and a ruler and making sure that all your spaces are the same, for example, 1cm apart, you will need to start at the top of the page and mark down all sides of the page so that when you join all your points together you will end up with a grid as shown in my example picture. Elephant-picture-with-grid

You will then need to do the same on a piece of blank paper or your sketch pad.

Preparing your Sketchpad or a blank page.

It is very important that when adding the grid to your drawing paper or sketch pad that you only use a light pressure when adding your lines as they will need to be removed as the picture progresses, as once it is finished and cleaned up you should be left with only your reproduction picture and no visible grid lines. I have discovered that if I use a propelling/mechanical pencil with an H lead in it I can produce a fine grid line that is easy to erase once my picture is complete.

HINT: By using a PC to process the image you can sometimes print your image onto graph paper. This will save you a lot of time. This method works well if the image is quite light but you will find that darker images tend to hide the grid lines, as can be seen around the darker areas of my elephant in the example picture. I am also using standard A4 grid/graph paper as it fits nicely into my printer.

It is also wise to scan your reference picture with the grid in place into your PC as by storing a scanned image of the picture on the PC with the grid applied it makes things a lot easier when you come to draw the picture as you can use your photo editing suite to zoom in and enlarge the scanned image to get a better idea of how everything looks and exactly where each line crosses and meets on the grid. This really helps when it comes to adding the finer details.

Another method I use to create my reference picture and set out my drawing paper or sketchbook is a Drawing board.
Using a drawing board is much quicker and less tedious when setting out, and I find that it is also more accurate than measuring down each side of the picture, as the drawing board has a rule already marked out on it, so all you need to do is to line your paper up with the preset marks on the drawing board and then move the T square between each point and draw a light line right across the page. Also, you only have to turn the page once to draw your lines both ways which save a lot of time.

NB: you can purchase a drawing board like the one in the picture at the bottom of this page and other art products required for this tutorial by visiting our Art Store.

Adding reference points
Once you have added all the lines and your grid is in place you will need to add the reference points so that you can locate exactly where everything is. To do this You will need to add numbers down the two longest sides of the picture and the alphabet across the other two shorter sides of the picture to give you reference points along both the top and bottom of the page, for example, A5 or F9 and so on. You will find that by doing this you will be able to work from both sides of the page making it far easier to accurately locate and reference a point or line intersection when drawing your outline and adding the detail.

NB: I am using an A4 sketchbook as it is also the same size as the original Elephant picture that I want to draw but you can use any size of paper you like. By using the grid method you can use your grid to either scale up or scale down your original photo by either increasing or decreasing the size of the segments on your grid when you mark out your blank sheet. You must remember however that it is important to increase or decrease your grid by equal amounts, for example, if the grid on your original reference picture has squares that are 1cm apart and you want to double the size of the image then you will have to allow 2cm's between each line, or to decrease the size of the image by half you would have to allow 0.5cm's / 5mm between each line. Remember also that if you want to enlarge your image you may need a bigger sheet of paper to fit the scaled-up image onto.

As I mentioned earlier, I am using a drawing board to set out my pages as it is much quicker than marking the pages out separately.

NB: To mark out my sketchbook I found that I had to slightly raise my drawing board to allow for the thickness of the sketch pad. To do this I placed a couple of books under the drawing board so as to raise it up slightly to allow the paper to lay freely on my drawing board. See below: Remember If you do not own a drawing board and would like to purchase one you can purchase one HERE!.