Start with these simple steps.
1. Plan your drawing.
When it comes to reference photos, remember “there are several different subspecies of giraffe, and each one has its own special spot pattern,” says Whitlatch. For example, the pattern on the Rothschild’s giraffe is quite different from the marks on the Masai giraffe. If you want to draw a cute cartoon giraffe, these details are less important. But if you want to create a realistic drawing, the details are important.
2. Break down the basic shapes.
Before you get to the details, you need to sketch a basic underdrawing to get the lines of your giraffe shape right. “I always just simplify the body into basic shapes,” explains Whitlatch “Be methodical and notice how sloped the back is, for example. Or how its front legs are somewhat longer and taller than its hind legs.” Use circles and oval shapes to block in the major parts of the giraffe. See where the joints connect, and notice the thickness of the giraffe’s neck. If you analyze these simple shapes, you’re more likely to get an accurate animal drawing.
3. Polish the shapes and silhouette.
“Once you’ve got that overall structure down, you can refine the drawing,” says Witchlatch. Perfect those curved lines and define the muscles. Remember, while they can look tall and spindly, giraffes are actually big, sturdy mammals. Help your drawing communicate that density by adding some light shading to show shadow and dimension.