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How to Draw a Giraffe and a Giraffe Pattern

This post is part of a series called Learn How to Draw.
How to Draw a Flamingo
How to Draw a Penguin
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What You'll Be Creating

If you want to learn how to draw a giraffe, you've come to the right place! In this tutorial I will show you how to draw these amazing animals from scratch: first by establishing the guidelines of the skeleton, then by adding simplified muscle masses, and then by adding all the necessary details. 

Even if you're a beginner at drawing, you can draw a realistic giraffe with me! And if you want something simpler, I will also show you how to draw the characteristic giraffe pattern.

This is a simple step-by-step tutorial on how to draw a giraffe in a single pose. If you want to learn more about drawing giraffes, especially about their anatomy, try this tutorial instead:

1. How to Draw a Giraffe's Body

Step 1

The main body of a giraffe has a characteristic shape—the shoulders are much higher than the hips, and the whole torso is quite short. Sketch this shape to create a basic outline of the body.

simple giraffe body

Step 2

Divide this shape into thirds.

divide torso into thirds

Step 3

Draw a circle in the first two thirds. This will help us see the ribcage.

rib cage simplified

Step 4

Add two circles in the front for the shoulder, and a tilted oval in the back for the hips.

draw simplified shoulders

Step 5

We'll need more details to use these pieces of anatomy. Add the front of the shoulder, the front of the ribcage, and tips of the hips—all drawn as simple circles.

add bony landmarks

Step 6

Draw the sacrum right over the hips.

draw sacrum

Step 7

Add the tail.

draw simple tail

Step 8

Outline the silhouette of the body as the guidelines suggest.

outline the body

2. How to Draw a Giraffe's Legs

Step 1

Giraffes have very long legs—but how long, exactly? It's all about proportions. Measure the torso in the middle, and then add twice this length below, plus some extra space for the hooves.

measure the distance to the ground

Step 2

Sketch basic curves for the front and hind legs.

sketch one pair of legs

Step 3

Legs can only be legs if they have joints in the correct places. Here's how you can find them:

add joints to the legs

Step 4

Let's add some depth to the drawing by adding another pair of legs slightly in the background. Draw the line of the ground above the previous one...

add another ground level

... and draw another pair of legs here.

add another pair of legs

Step 5

Mark their joints, too.

add another pair of leg joints

Step 6

The joints have a special shape that is very visible on these skinny legs. First, draw circles to create the joints over the hooves.

draw hoof joints

Step 7

Now, add semicircles for the "wrists" and "ankles".

add bony joints

Step 8

Finish these joints by adding more shapes.

finish joint hsapes

Step 9

Finally, the arm and the knee.

add arm and knee bones

Step 10

Draw the top of the hooves by "cutting" the line right over them.

sketch hooves

Step 11

Outline the hooves. They should be quite flat.

outline hooves

Step 12

Add some muscle masses.

add thigh
add muscle masses

Step 13

Outline the whole legs.

outline giraffe legs

3. How to Draw a Giraffe's Neck and Head

Step 1

To find the proper length for the giraffe's neck, use the length of the front limbs (without the hooves). You don't have to use a ruler—these lengths just need to be visually similar.

establish length of giraffe neck

Step 2

To give this neck the proper volume, draw three ovals across it.

add volume to neck

Step 3

Outline the neck, merging it gently with the torso.

outline the neck

Step 4

Add an oval for the head. It should be quite small.

add head oval

Step 5

The simplest way to quickly set the proportions of the head is to draw a cross made of the eye line and a line going along the whole head. This cross must be adjusted to the perspective.

add head cross

Step 6

Add the muzzle in the front.

add muzzle oval

Step 7

Add the cheeks.

add oval cheeks

Step 8

Add the "eye sockets". If you draw them bigger than the intended eyes, you get a better visual idea of where they should be placed.

add eye sockets

Step 9

Draw the top of the muzzle.

add top of muzzle

Step 10

Add the long nostrils.

add giraffe nostrils

Step 11

Add the ears.

add giraffe ears

Step 12

Some giraffes have a bump on their forehead—this is where males store additional calcium.

giraffe head bump

Step 13

Sketch the two little horns.

sketch giraffe horns

Step 14

Draw the oval lines.

draw oval eyes

Step 15

Draw the bump over the eyes.

draw detail of eyes

Step 16

Draw the long upper lip of the giraffe.

draw giraffe upper lip

Step 17

Finish the shape of the head by connecting some of the guidelines.

finish head guide lines

4. How to Finish the Drawing of a Giraffe

Step 1

The guidelines are all done, so it's time to draw the final lines over them. You can use a darker tool now, erase the sketch to an extent, or put a new sheet of paper over it—it's up to you.

Outline the body as the guidelines suggest.

outline whole body

Step 2

Outline the head and all its details.

outline head

Step 3

Add some details to the body.

add details to body

Step 4

Some elements should be darker—the eyes, the nostrils, the mane, the tail, and the hooves.

add value to drawing

Step 5

To better show the 3D form of the body, shade it in a simple way.

add simple shading
finish the shading

5. How to Draw a Giraffe Pattern

Step 1

Let's practice it on the side first. The pattern is pretty chaotic, but it has a special rhythm we have to follow. You can simulate it by drawing a lot of ovals/circles of similar size.

draw a pattern of ovals

Step 2

Now you need to create borders between these ovals. First with long curves...

create borders between ovals

... then with simple lines, wherever necessary. Your goal is to keep all the ovals separate.

separate the ovals

Step 3

Clean up these borders to create a regular mesh of polygons.

clean up the borders

Step 4

Finally, draw patches inside the polygons, creating some distance between them. Make the lines a little wobbly to create a more natural shape.

finish the pattern

Step 5

Various species of giraffe have slightly different patterns and colors, so don't forget to check out some references to finish your pattern correctly!

how to draw a giraffe pattern skin

Step 6

Back to our drawing. Let's use the same process: fill the whole body with ovals. Remember to adjust them to the 3D form of the giraffe's body!

fill body with ovals

Step 7

Now the sketch of the borders...

sketch the borders
finish the borders

Step 8

And the clean plan of the borders:

clean up the borders

Step 9

Finally, draw the patches.

draw giraffe pattern

Step 10

Darken the patches to create a proper contrast between them and the rest of the skin.

color giraffe pattern

Step 11

Finally, shade the patches to fit the rest of the lighting, and add some final touches.

finish the shading with pattern

Beautiful Job!

Now you know how to draw a giraffe and a giraffe pattern! Are you interested in other giraffe-related tutorials? Check these out:

And if you want to keep drawing, here are some other animal drawing tutorials. You'll like the cow, especially—it's very similar to a giraffe!

how to draw a giraffe step by step
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