In this tutorial, I’ll show you an easy way to draw a frog with a graphite pencil and a variety of ink pens.
Frogs often have an interesting warty texture, and we’ll learn to create its illusion in a drawing. We’ll also explore the possibilities of tinted grey paper and learn to use it to our advantage.
This technique is an excellent choice for everyday drawing exercises because it helps to save time: the color of the paper provides a base, so the artist’s task is just to add the darker and the lighter tones.
It is said that using paper in a variety of greys, browns, and other muted hues leads to more realistic results, helps to enhance your drawing skills, and even brings a new perspective to the workflow.
The only way to prove this statement is to try this technique, isn’t it?
What You Will Need
You'll need the following equipment to complete this tutorial project:
- an ink liner number 0.5 (grey color)
- an ink liner number 0.3 (grey color)
- an ink liner number 0.2 (black color)
- a white gel pen
- a graphite pencil (I recommend using the HB type)
- a sheet of white drawing paper
- a sheet of grey paper (I’m using a pastel type with a subtle texture)
- an eraser
1. How to Draw a Frog With a Graphite Pencil
Before we jump into the process of inking, it’s necessary to design our drawing with a graphite pencil. Let’s agree that we're drawing a generic frog that represents the typical features of the whole biological group.
To create a base for the next steps, I sketch two rounded shapes for the frog’s head and body.
I add the framework of the forelimbs. One of the arms is less visible because of the foreshortening, so I sketch it as a solid shape.
I add the initial shape of the visible back leg folded underneath. This shape consists of the hip, lower leg, and foot with toes.
Frogs have big, protruding eyes; it’s time to add them. We have only one eye visible, and I add it to the head’s shape.
I also draw the prominent elements where the eyes are located.
I refine the frog’s head, adding the mouth.
I make a subtle narrowing in the neck area and refine the shape of the stout frog’s body.
I work on the shape of the forelimbs, and then add the framework of the four fingers.
Frogs usually have three to five fingers, depending on the species, so let’s take an average number.
I draw the fingers. Frogs often have small pads on the tips of their fingers.
I refine the shape of the leg. I also add a skinfold in the knee area to make the drawing more realistic.
It’s time to draw the foot; it has five toes of different size. I create an uneven contour line to emphasize the relief of the features.
As a final touch, I refine the contour of the frog’s body, making it slightly irregular. It will help to achieve a realistic look—frogs usually have small bumps (warts) on the skin.
The initial pencil sketch is complete!
2. How to Draw a Frog With Ink Pens on Grey Paper
With light graphite pencil lines, I create a clean copy of the pencil sketch on the grey paper. You can use window glass, a light table, or a sheet of copy paper for that.
With the 0.5 grey ink liner, I outline the main contours.
I apply the groups of short hatches and dots, as shown in the image below, to draw the frog.
I create a pattern of the warty skin texture using this technique. The 0.3 grey liner is a perfect tool for this step.
It’s time to give the frog more volume. With the 0.3 grey ink liner, I add the core shadows, using long and short hatches.
I add the ink hatching mostly to the sides of the frog, and also create a drop shadow.
Let’s add dots to our drawing, using the 0.2 black ink liner.
Dots will help to create a credible illusion of an organic irregular texture, and the black color will increase the contrast in our drawing.
I add more dots to the frog’s body, working in the same manner.
If you find making dots too time-consuming, you can speed up the process by drawing short hatches instead of dots. Just remember to keep the uneven pattern of the texture; don’t overdo the artwork.
I add the black dots to the forelimbs of the frog and to the drop shadow.
To make the drop shadow more realistic, you can accurately shade it with a graphite pencil or grey ink liner; this will make the application more blurry.
I complete the process of applying black ink with the 0.2 ink liner, adding some more dots and short hatches to the frog’s leg and increasing the contrast of the drawing.
As a finishing touch, I add light strokes with a white gel pen.
Use this tool to brighten the highlights and spotlit areas on the frog’s body, like the eyes, the upper part of the head, the sides of the limbs, and the belly.
Your Drawing Is Complete
Congratulations! You’ve created a beautiful artwork; I hope you enjoyed both the process and the result.
I wish you much success in drawing with a pencil and ink and exploring the possibilities of tinted paper.
Hopefully, you've discovered plenty of room for experiments. For example, you can use graphite pencils instead of grey liners or a white pencil instead of a gel pen.
Have fun capturing the unique charm of the wonderful world of animals and nature!