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How to Draw Animals: Red Pandas and Raccoons

Read Time: 4 mins
This post is part of a series called How to Draw Animals.
How to Draw Animals: Weasels, Stoats, Minks, Polecats and Ferrets
How to Draw Animals: The Great Extinct Mammals
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What You'll Be Creating

Red pandas and raccoons are commonly confused, they come from completely different families. Their striped tails and mask on the face make them similar on first sight, but that's basically the only thing that links them. The red panda is the only living representative of Ailuridae (panda-like) family, what means it's actually more panda than the giant panda (which is a bear!). Raccoons, on the other hand, come from a big family of animals you've probably never heard of, like kinkajou or olinguito. 

How to Draw the Red Panda

Body Features

The red panda is a fluffy animal, not much bigger than a cat, spending most of its life on a tree branch. There are a few features that are necessary to drawing the red panda:

  • The legs are plantigrade (whole "feet" are used to walk);
  • The tail is almost as long as whole body, thick and bushy;
  • The head seems to be merged with the neck (no slope);
  • The body is very compact, without strong curves;
  • The hind legs are a bit longer, adding a gentle slope on the back (not so prominent when walking).


The red panda isn't necessary red. Its main color varies between pale orange and deep brown, but orange red looks the best on them. The lower body is black (note it's quite atypical, since most animals have this part lighter), and the rings on the tail have paler shade than the main coat. The tip can be black or dark brown, but it's not obligatory. There may appear a lighter patch on the sides of the barrow.


The most important thing to remember about the red panda is that they all look like cubs. Their proportions barely change when growing up, and it's actually only the size that differs the adults from the young. That cub appearance on the head shows mostly by the placement of the eyes. What else do you need to know?

  • The head is round, very fluffy, with wide forehead;
  • The eyes are brown, with small, slightly slit pupils. They're round and placed close to each other;
  • The snout is very short, tapered, with black nose on the tip;
  • The ears are triangular in shape, very (I mean it!) fluffy, with thick tufts below. They're kept a bit on the sides;
  • There's not a real mask on the face. The snout is white, there are white patches on the cheeks, and there are dark, thick lines in between (they may be dark colored or appear only by the lack of white). Lighter spots can be found above the eyes. With lightly colored individuals (e.g. without dark tip of the tail) the dark lines may not be that apparent.
Drawing the red panda's head - front
Drawing the red panda's head - profile


There are no pads visible under the red panda's paws - they're more like fluffy semi-pads and you can draw them like this. They're also lighter (gray or pale orange). The claws are semi-retractile, which means they can expand, but even in the "start position" they're fully visible. The red panda's paws can be a bit similar to cat, but without the claw-sheath. Also, with a big amount of fur they are quite round and the individual fingers may not be that visible.

The red panda's paws

How to Draw Raccoon

Body Features

When you look closely, raccoons are totally different from red pandas. Their silhouette isn't  even (a lot of curves) and the tail is shorter. What are other differences?

  • The head is small, attached to a tapered neck;
  • The tails is medium length, bushy and tapered;
  • The legs are slim and short in comparison to stocky body;
  • The legs are considered plantigrade, however raccoons can and do use digitrade locomotion too. That's the main reason for the strong curve of their back, although it's visible in the plantigrade position too;
  • Their stocky silhouette isn't an illusion made by fur - they're actually built like this!

Plantigrade position is perfect to use hands comfortably:


You should draw the body as black with gray or slightly brown coat (this way you'll get the effect of mixed hair). The tail is striped black. The lower body and paws are sometimes lighter than the rest of the coat.


  • The head is triangular, with long, tapered snout;
  • The nose is black and quite big;
  • The ears are triangular, but slightly rounded;
  • The eyes are round, dark brown;
  • The "mask" is actually a black patch around the eyes and on the cheeks. It's particularly contrasting thanks to white snout and "brows". Brown nose bridge cuts the mask in half.
Drawing raccoon's head - front
Drawing raccoon's head - profile


Raccoon's paws are very agile, especially the fore paws. The fingers aren't connected with any web (it's common even for cats to have such a web), therefore these paws may look like hands without a thumb.

Raccoon's paws

That Would be All!

Now you know what's the difference between the red panda and raccoon. After this careful study we can come to conclusion they're both pretty unique animals with interesting features. Curious how would a hybrid of them look? Now you can check yourself!

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