If you look around there is plenty of books and reference both on and offline to help you with drawing pets. As useful as some of them may be, I can truly say its firstly all about training your eyes to see the shapes and details of the subject your drawing. Look at each part of the subject in isolation, such as an ear or an eye, and think of each part as a seperate drawing. If you look at each element this way, you can then break it down into individual pieces that you can then draw.

For example if we’re talking about an ear, firstly look at the overall shape, then look at the different tones of the shading within it. For black and white drawings I try and break it down into three tones, light, mid and the darkest areas. I then lightly outline these areas almost like a paint by numbers drawing. I then start to shade all these areas with a very light pencil shade, such as H or HB. When you have done this initial shading look at your reference and compare it against your drawing, look at the shape and size of all elements of the composition to make sure they look very similar. Also look at the details of hard and soft edges to make sure the blends are similar, as these are what will give distinct shape to your drawing. The overall look of your drawing at this stage should look the same as your reference, just in one pale tone.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Always make sure your pencil has a very well defined point, drawing fur with a blunt rounded tip pencil will create a flat undefined look to your drawing.



The key thing when drawing pets to get a true lifelike look is the way you shade. You need to always shade in the direction of the fur, if you do this, once you have added all your different shades and tones in the direction the fur is flowing, this will create great depth and a very realistic finish to your drawing. It will also work with the tonal qualities to add shape, defining muscles and the bones structure. Don’t be tempted to go back to normal hatching strokes or cross hatching at different angles, as this will give the fur a very confusing appearance, and the overall look will have very little definition or shape.

When using coloured pencil, the principle is exactly the same, but rather than different grey tones, its obviously made up of your undercolour tones, but again even the palest of undercolours needs to flow in the direction of the fur. With coloured pencil the depth when adding two or three colours to any given area will give so much more depth and realism than black and white, but only if the fur is flowing in the right direction.



When drawing the subject outline and starting to build up the definition, I always start with a H or HB,  this allows you to rub out and tweak your drawing until your happy with the overall appearance. You will find, particulalry with a H grade pencil, it leaves very faint marks on the paper when drawing, this is great to build from and as long as you dont press hard the outlines will rub away very easily. I often create 3/4 of my graphite drawings in this shade, before moving onto 2 or 3b grades. It gives me great versatility and a very clear understanding of the compostion, is the shape right, are all the elements the right size and flowing right. Once I am happy with this it makes the rest of the drawing a lot easier, as you have all parts of the drawing accurately in place and defined.



When doing the final darker shades to your graphite drawing, its essential you use the right grade of pencil such as a 6 or 7b, this will stop you rubbing too hard on the paper, and create really well defined contrasts to your drawing. If you dont use the right grade of pencil, you may tend to press too hard to achive the right contrast if you were using for instance a 2 or 3b. This can dig into the paper and create it to ripple and also flatten the tone of the drawing. As a rough guide, for all my lighter and starter tones I use a H or HB, then when building up the mid tones I use a 2 or 3b, then my final defining points and darkest areas of contrast I use a 6 or 7B. Every artist has their preference but I find this works very well, creating a great amount of depth and clear definition to the subject.



Every artist has their preference when it comes to which eraser to use. From the traditional putty rubber, standard block rubbers, through to the finepoint projector erasers and battery powered erasers. This often depends of what type of drawing is being done, but my two favourites are a the traditional putty rubber and the projector eraser. The traditonal putty rubber is very versatile and very powerful, the slightest touch will remove pencil marks, but in addition to that, its malleable, you can shape it to a fine razer edge for detailed areas. The projector eraser is also another firm favourite of mine, especially for drawing pets and fur, you can use it in the same way as a pencil to draw in highlights with massive control and very clear definition. As it is very much like a pencil, just creating the reverse effect, you can stroke it in the direction of fur capturing amazing highlights and depth to your drawing.