Elephants are some of the most spectacular animals on Earth. They are not only large but also brilliant. Moreover, they have clever pants and an amazing memory. It is no wonder that these gentle giants have won the hearts of so many people.
Drawing an elephant may seem like a huge task, but follow these step-by-step instructions, and you’ll quickly arrive at an impressive illustration. Want to give it a try? Then grab your drawing supplies and some paper — it’s time to draw an elephant!
How to Draw an Elephant (Step by Step Tutorial)
There are two species of elephants – African and Asian. They can be distinguished by the size and shape of the ears. For this guide, we will focus on the larger-eared African elephant. And since we’ll be drawing it for the profile, you’ll want to make sure you have some reference photos with a good look at its features, including the feet.
STEP 1: SKETCH THE BODY
First, use a ruler to draw a horizontal line near the bottom of your paper. This will help you determine the size and proportions of your elephant. Next, move your pencil above the line and draw an elongated S shape to simulate the elephant’s back.
Once you’re happy with it, finish the line by turning it into a slightly rectangular shape. Make sure it’s slightly tilted upwards. Additionally, in the top right corner of the large shape, draw a triangular ear.
STEP 2: DRAW THE TRUNK
Starting at the corner of the ear, use your pencil to draw a circle for the head. Then draw another S-shaped line that curves upwards to indicate the trunk. When you get to the end, create a loose m shape and draw the line back down. Sketch a slightly pointed mouth open when the trunk meets the elephant’s head before rounding the chin halfway into the ear.
Make sure you have reference photos available for this step, as finding the right proportions can be tricky. Take your time until you feel satisfied with how it looks.
STEP 3: ADD FEET AND LEGS
In comparison to their size, African elephants have skinny legs. So, starting with the front legs, draw a long rectangular slightly shape bending at the knees to indicate that the elephant is moving. Keep the legs straight. Switch to the hind legs, using the shape of the elephant’s body to guide your drawing. The hind legs should be extending behind the elephant.
Next, it’s time to add the feet. Unlike drawing the wolf’s paw, the feet of an elephant is quite simple. Use your pencil to sketch a loose bell shape to the end of each leg.
STEP 4: SKETCH THE TUSKS
Now that we have completed the main components of the elephant, we can start focusing on the details. At the back of the elephant, sketch a long tail with a tuft of hair at the base. Then direct your attention towards the elephant’s head.
Place your pencil at the roof of the mouth and add a single tusk. This can be as long or short as you like, depending on the age of your elephant. Just remember to add a second tusk behind it.
Then you can draw a large almond eye in the centre of the head. (If you like, you can add a few creases at this stage.) Then draw large nails on the elephant’s feet in a semicircle. Remember: African elephants have three nails on the hind feet and four nails on the front feet, so what you draw may depend on the orientation of your model.
STEP 5: ERASE THE GUIDELINES
Finally, when you’re satisfied with the outline, you can start removing any unnecessary guidelines. If something is still bothering you at this stage, set the drawing aside for a bit and come back to it. Once you’ve got some distance, go ahead and make any adjustments you think are necessary.
STEP 6: ADD DETAILS TO THE ELEPHANT
Elephants may be cute, but they are also very wrinkled. While it can feel detrimental to your drawing to fill it with lines, the final effect is sometimes worth it. Try adding a few wrinkles where the elephant has more skin — like the elbows, ankles, knees, and trunk. If you like the effect, continue adding texture to the rest of the body, but keep the ears more or less smooth.
Next, it’s time to complete your illustration with a little background. Since you put so much effort into the elephant, you don’t need to add much more. Just add a little more foliage to the ground and maybe a tree in the background. African elephants are sometimes seen with birds riding on their backs, so feel free to include more animal friends.
If you want to easily contour around your illustration, simply pull out the protractor and draw a semicircle around the elephant. Then make the border more interesting by embellishing it with small dots.
STEP 7: GET OVER THE DRAWING IN INK
To finish your elephant in ink, pull out your favourite pens and slowly trace over your final drawing. You can create interesting textures in your illustrations using various inking techniques such as enlarging and stipping. Once you’ve gone along all the graphite lines, consider adding large areas of black for an appealing balance.
Finally, when you’ve had enough time to dry the ink, erase the remaining pencil lines. Congratulations! You have completed your own drawing of an African elephant!