How to Paint Realistic Animals

Updated: 02 May 2018

How to paint realistic animals

Key Factors in Painting Animals

Animal painting is a complex subject that includes all the characteristics of painting in a realistic style.

When it comes to a group of animals as part of the background, there are a few topics to take into consideration:

When dealing with an animal as the main subject of a painting, the painting can be regarded as a portrait:

Giraffe oil painting Giraffe oil painting

How to Draw Animals on a Large Canvas

There are two problems in painting on a large canvas:

  1. The whole painting cannot be seen, unless backing up from it.
  2. The large canvas will hide the reference object or image.

One solution is to draw a grid.

When using an image as reference, the image and the painting canvas can be divided into several rectangles.

Using a grid means creating several small paintings, making it easier to be precise in the initial drawing stage.

Oryx drawing on a big canvas Oryx drawing on a big canvas

When painting the background, it is recommended not to paint on the pencil drawing. Also, not to leave spaces between the pencil drawing and the background.

Painting the background Painting the background


Oryx in the desert oil painting Oryx in the desert oil painting

How to Draw a Grid

The center of a reference image is the point where the two diagonals meet.

When the position of the midpoint is known, a horizontal line and a vertical line can be drawn in order to divide the image into four rectangles.

Each rectangle can be divided repeatedly for a large and complex image.

Two diagonals to find the midpoint Finding the midpoint
Horizontal and vertical lines Horizontal and vertical lines

Creating a grid on a canvas is done in the same way.

Now it is possible to draw inside each rectangle separately. Consequently, the drawing process becomes easier.

Drawing inside a small square Drawing inside a rectangle
Pencil drawing of an elephant Completing the drawing

A paintbrush can be used instead of a pencil.

Now the canvas is ready to be painted with oil paints.