Animal Portrait Drawings

Age 9+ | Year 4 - 9 | 2 - 3 Sessions



This is a simple but effective lesson in animal portraiture. It was all about developing the ability to truly observe our subjects and to fine tune our skills in measuring with the eye, shading and colour blending. 


My Year 6's were really successful with this project and I found that I have many students create their very best work all year. It was a test in patience and determination, because I knew they were capable of drawing at their fullest potential by then and many students were so proud of the work they created. 


It was clear that the Year 5 group had mixed feelings about this project, as one class thrived and really took my advice to heart creating some great work, whereas the other class pretty much gave up before they started. I actually ended up scratching the project for them all together! It was like pulling teeth and I could see they were too discouraged, their disengagement and negativity was spreading. I didn't think it was worth it to carry on. 


What You'll Need:

  • A4 White Drawing Paper

  • Pencils

  • Coloured Pencils

  • Ruler

  • Sharpener

  • Eraser

  • Animal Reference Pictures


What To Do:


Draw a Border

First draw a 1cm boarder along the edges of your A4 white paper with a pencil


Draw Animals

I Googled "Animals Close-up" and scrolled down to ensure the visible page had a variety of different animals. I left the Google Images page up on the screen for the students to choose an animal to draw. I reminded them to pay close attention to the details, and colours that were clearly visible. I demonstrated on the white board how to 'map out' a rough free hand outline of the subject. 



  • TIP It's a good idea to take a screenshot of the page to refer back to for next time, as Google jumbles up the images page every day. 

  • Another Tip: well this is not so much a tip, but a anecdote. I very much avoid making examples of art projects to show to the children. I want them to explore their own creativity with our projects. I've said this many times before. I avoid it simply because the kids end up trying to copy my example, rather than being inspired by the idea. The demo I drew on the board that was to help them learn how to measure by eye and map out an outline... Can you guess which animal I used in the demo? Yep. The green bird. 


Look at the points at where the animal touches the edges on the image. Estimate where that point might match up to on the paper. Do that for every part of the drawing. This is how you estimate the scale of the animal onto the paper and avoid drawing the animal too small or making it look like its just floating in the middle of the paper. Avoid doing too much pencil shading, or texture at this point, unless you are making a grayscale drawing. 


  • Another Tip: This Free Drawing Values Scales worksheet can help the kids a lot when it comes to practicing how to shade grayscale and shading with textures.

  • TIP For some reason I had to remind them that if the image was 'landscape' then the drawing paper should probably be landscape too, so that the entire image fits properly when drawing it. Same goes for 'portrait'. 


Colour it in

Start matching the pencil crayons to the colours that are visible in the image of the animal. Use basic shading techniques to create soft and solid areas, as well as textures. I demonstrated on the white board how I personally like to draw textures like hair, fur, feathers or scales.


If your students enjoyed this project, shoot me an email or comment below and let me know how it turned out!



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