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How to Draw Disney Animals

This post is part of a series called How to Draw Like Disney.
How to Draw Disney Characters
How to Draw a Castle
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

I've always loved Disney animals—expressive and human-like, yet so similar to their realistic counterparts. Their simplicity is deceptive, though—as I kid I had a hard time drawing them correctly. I didn't know back then that there are special rules you need to follow to draw authentic Disney animals.

If you want to learn how to draw animals in a Disney style, in this tutorial I will show you all the basics. You'll learn how the head and body are constructed, and how to draw the face in various views step by step. We'll take a closer look at cats, dogs, and horses, but these rules also apply to bears, deer, and even birds. With these rules you'll be able to draw real Disney characters and create your own.

Before you start, I recommend you take a look at the first tutorial from this series, How to Draw Disney Characters.

1. The Anatomy of Disney Animals

Although animals can be so different, they all can be drawn in a Disney style that makes them similar. How is this possible? It's about simplifying all the elements of the head in the same way:

  • Cranium
  • Muzzle
  • Chin
  • Eye socket
  • Eyeball
  • Nose
  • Cheeks
  • Ears

Let's start with the cranium. It's always drawn as a sphere, regardless of the shape of the animal's head.

cranium sphere

The upper jaw/upper half of the muzzle is an ellipsoid, smaller than the sphere. Its size, shape, and place of attachment can be modified for various purposes:

  • Most animals will have these two shapes attached to each other, but for ungulates (hoofed animals) there may be a space between them to create a longer muzzle.
  • The lower and smaller the ellipsoid is, the cuter/younger the animal looks. Placing it at 1/2 of the cranium is the safest bet.
  • The length of the ellipsoid, its shape and its size should be adjusted to the characteristics of the species.
muzzle ellipsoid

The next important measures are the eye socket and the eyeball. This again depends on the effect you want to achieve, as well as the look of the species, but the safest way is to put the eye right on the middle line of the sphere, and the eye socket on the middle line of this half. The eyeball may be placed within 2/3 of the eye socket. Females usually have bigger eyes, with more prominent eyelashes and thinner eyebrows.

eyesocket with eyeballs

The final shape of the eye is achieved by adding the eyelids. You can learn all about drawing eyes and adding expressions to them in the previous tutorial of this series.

eyelids shape

The nose can connect to the cranium in various ways—it can, for example, make a step, or it can merge into it gently.

shape of the nasal bridge

The front of the mouth can usually be derived by drawing lines down the nose.

shape of front of the motuh

The spherical shape of the cranium is sometimes enough to create the shape of the head, but sometimes you need to modify it. The cheeks can help you here.

shape of cheeks

The cheeks must be merged with the shape of the head. Sometimes they change the whole shape of the cranium.

shape of back of the head

The ears are usually very simple, attached to the back of the head.

shape of ears

Finally, we can draw the lower jaw. It's good to draw the jaws separately, because it gives us the freedom to draw them open or closed. Draw the chin as an ellipsoid right under the upper one, and then connect it to the head or the neck—depending on the effect you want to achieve.

shape of lower jaw

Open mouth can be drawn easily when you think in forms—just keep the axis of rotation parallel to the line over the eyes.

open jaw in disney animals

Because Disney animals can often speak, their mouth must be very human-like—you can draw normal lips on the front of the muzzle, and then adjust them to its shape until it looks convincing.

how to draw open mouth in animals

2. How to Draw Disney Cats

How to Draw a Disney Cat's Body

To draw any animal's body, you need to know its structure and form. When drawing the structure, you define the proportions and pose by reducing the body to a "skeleton" like this. The proportions of a cat's body depend on the species. Below, you can see the structure of a Disney lion. Characteristically, the lower half of its body is the same height or shorter than the upper half.

lion king body proportions

When you have the structure, you can add the form. The elements of the body are identical for most animals—only their shape and size must be adjusted to the species.

lion king characters anatomy

Once you know this basic cat body, you can modify it to create other species. There's not one correct way of drawing every species—you simply need to find what is characteristic for a certain type of cat, and then exaggerate it in your structure and form.

dinsey cats felines anatomy

How to Draw a Disney Cat's Paws

Step 1

Start with simple "pony hooves". Remember about direction and perspective.

disney cat paws shape

Step 2

Add this simple shape in the front. Imagine it in 3D to create a proper view.

shape of paws

Step 3

Divide the shape into halves. In the side view, it's good to shift this middle line to the side, to create a more interesting and less confusing view.

direction of paws

Step 4

Add an ellipsoid for each toe—smaller on the sides.

shape of cat toes

Step 5

Find the level defined by the top of the toes.

shape of cat paw

Step 6

Outline the paws. You can outline whole toes, or just a part of them—there's no definite rule for this.

how to draw cat paw

Step 7

The toes are often colored differently, so you can cut them visually from the rest of the paw.

how to draw lion king paws

How to Draw a Disney Cat's Head

Obviously, Disney cats have various proportions of their heads, because they don't look the same. Somehow, though, they do look similar—it's because they share some elements, even though their shape is modified. Here are a few examples—can you see what all these heads have in common? This is what makes them cat-like.

disney cats head proportions

Before you draw a Disney cat, you need to prepare such a set of proportions—either create your own or analyze screenshots of an actual movie to find the proportions of the real character. Once you have the proportions, you can draw the character in any pose and view. Let me show you how!

Step 1

Start with the cranium, defining the view you want to use.

start with spherical cranium

Step 2

Add the muzzle on the level defined by your proportions. For a lion from the Lion King, it's usually placed within the lower half of the cranium.

add the muzzle

Step 3

Divide the muzzle into thirds.

divide muzzle into thirds

Step 4

Add the chin under the muzzle. For our lion, it should be 2/3 high.

draw big lion chin

Step 5

Add the nose. In cats, it's usually tilted away from the muzzle.

draw the nose

Step 6

Add the nose holes.

draw the nose holes

Step 7

Divide the upper half of the cranium into halves.

draw proportions in the forehead

Step 8

Divide the lower half of this measurement into thirds, and add one third on top, too.

draw more proportions for the eyes

Step 9

Use these guide lines to draw the shape of the nose and the forehead. For lions, it's slightly away from the cranium.

draw shape of the nose and forehead

Step 10

The eye sockets will start in the 1/4 of the cranium...

draw lion eye sockets
draw depth of eye sockets

... and end right below the half.

draw zygomatic arch

Step 11

Place the eyeballs inside the eye sockets, at 2/3 of its height.

draw lion eyeballs

Step 12

Add the eyelids.

draw upper eyelid
draw lower eyelid

Step 13

Add the iris and pupil.

draw iris and pupil

Step 14

Add the eyebrows on top of the eye socket.

draw lion eyebrows

Step 15

Add the cheeks. They're very useful, especially in the front view.

draw lion cheeks

Step 16

Outline the head and neck.

draw lion neck

Step 17

Add the ears.

draw lion ears

Step 18

Outline the mouth.

draw lion mouth

Step 19

Add the final lines.

how to draw lion king head

Step 20

Male lions are famous for their manes. Add the mane at the end, drawing it like typical Disney hair—simple and flowing.

how to draw disney lion head

3. How to Draw Disney Dogs

How to Draw a Disney Dog's Body

The structure of a dog is rather similar to the cat's, except the legs are longer, making the body more compact and less elongated in look.

disney dog body proportions

The form follows the structure—the legs are slimmer, and the torso looks narrow.

how to draw disney dogs

Of course, dogs come in all shapes and sizes—you need to take the characteristic features of the breed into account to draw your Disney dog. With some modifications, you can use the same plan to draw foxes and wolves as well.

how to draw disney foxes wolves

How to Draw a Disney Dog's Paws

The paws can be drawn almost exactly like the cat's, with slight modifications: the wrist is higher and more pronounced, and the toes are less round (usually without color separations).

how to draw disney dog paws

How to Draw a Disney Dog's Head

Dogs usually have longer muzzles than cats, with bigger noses, but the rest of the structure stays very similar. The most pronounced dog feature is the narrow lower jaw with the chin often hidden under the upper part of the muzzle. The corner of the lips can also reach very far.

how to draw disney dog head proportions

Step 1

As always, start with a sphere for the cranium.

draw spherical cranium

Step 2

Add the long ellipsoid for the muzzle. Because the dog muzzle is so long, the whole head should be tilted by default to make the front view clearer.

draw dog muzzle

Step 3

Divide the upper half of the cranium into halves.

mark the forehead

Step 4

Draw the slope of the front of the muzzle.

draw the lope of muzzle

Step 5

Draw the big nose.

draw the dog nose

Step 6

Draw the shape of the forehead.

draw the shape of forehead

Step 7

Finish the shape of the nose.

finish dog nose

Step 8

Draw a line close to the middle of the cranium. This will define the location of the outer corner of the eye.

draw corner of eyes

Step 9

Draw the eye sockets almost reaching the top of the head.

draw big dog eye sockets

Step 10

Draw the big eyeballs.

draw big dog eyeballs

Step 11

Draw the eyelids to define the shape of the eye.

draw upper dog eyelids
draw lower dog eyelids

Step 12

Draw the iris and pupil. Because dogs usually have dark eyes, you can make the whole eye black.

draw dog eyes

Step 13

Add the eyebrows.

draw dog eyebrows

Step 14

Draw the small chin.

draw dog chin

Step 15

Draw the mouth.

draw dog mouth

Step 16

Add the cheeks.

draw dog cheeks

Step 17

Outline the lower jaw.

draw dog lower jaw

Step 18

Add the ears.

draw dog ears

Step 19

Add the neck.

draw dog neck

Step 20

Draw the final lines. Don't forget to darken the nose!

how to draw disney dog head

4. How to Draw Disney Horses

How to Draw a Disney Horse's Body

Although horses look very different from cats and dogs, this huge difference is superficial. If you look at the structure, the "skeleton" is the same—only the proportions change. Horses walk on the tips of their toes, and their "forearms" and "feet" are long.

disney horse body proportions

Disney horses look more or less realistic depending on the style. The stylization is usually based on making the legs very slim and indented, and the chest wide. The head can be kept straight like a human one.

how to draw a disney horse

How to Draw Disney Hooves

Step 1

Start with a simple curve of the leg. It should bend towards the front.

draw rhythm of legs

Step 2

Draw the bottom of the hoof. It has a horseshoe shape.

draw bottom of hooves

Step 3

Draw the joint over the hoof. Horse legs are very bony, so this joint shouldn't be too round.

draw hoof joint

Step 4

Draw domes over the bottom of the hoof.

draw dome of hoof

Step 5

Draw a line along the front of the leg, defining its 3D form.

draw front of hoof

Step 6

Outline the back.

draw back of hoof

Step 7

Cut the actual hoof from the rest of the leg.

draw actual hooves

Step 8

Finish the drawing.

how to draw dinsey horse hooves

How to Draw a Disney Horse's Head

Horse heads in Disney style are very diverse—because a horse head is so characteristic, it can be modified heavily without losing the crucial resemblance. The most important thing here is the distance between the cranium and the muzzle's ellipsoid. The forehead should also be longer than the cranium suggests, and the cheeks can help create the outline of the lower jaw. The mouth should be rather small, confined within the muzzle.

dinsey horses head proportions

Step 1

As always, start with the cranium.

draw spherical cranium

Step 2

Draw the muzzle. You can draw it as an elongated "6" to control the distance from the cranium.

draw horse muzzle

Step 3

Draw a line between the muzzle and the cranium.

draw horse head shape

Step 4

Divide the upper half of the cranium into halves.

mark forehead line

Step 5

Divide both halves into halves again.

draw moreguide lines

Step 6

Draw the eye socket.

draw horse eye socket

Step 7

Place the eyeballs inside.

draw horse eyeballs

Step 8

Add the iris with the pupil.

draw horse eyes

Step 9

Add the eyelids.

draw horse eyeldis

Step 10

Draw the elongated forehead.

draw horse forehead

Step 11

Add the cheeks.

draw horse cheeks

Step 12

Outline the lower jaw and the cheeks.

draw horse back of head

Step 13

Draw the flat surface on top of the muzzle and nose.

draw horse nasal bridge

Step 14

Finish this flat surface with a blunt arrowhead.

draw horse nose

Step 15

Draw the big nostrils.

draw horse nostrils

Step 16

Draw the mouth and the thick lips.

draw horse mouth

Step 17

Draw the neck.

draw horse neck

Step 18

Draw the base of the ears.

draw horse base of ears

Step 19

Draw the ears.

draw horse ears

Step 20

Draw the final lines.

how to draw disney horse head

Good Job!

Now you know how to draw all the Disney animal characters you need—the real ones and your imaginary ones. If you want to keep drawing and learning, you may also like our cartoon drawing tutorials:

how to draw disney animal characters

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