Lion Drawing Tutorial: Drawing Techniques You Can Use to Learn How to Draw a Lion!

A realistic lion drawing is a piece of art that a lot of people can enjoy. With the drawing techniques you are about to learn, see if you can create a series of convincing lion drawings of your own in this lesson on how to draw lions.

The existence of lions through history, cultural significance, or the mainstream media, has made this animal become an integral symbolic part of human society because of its symbolism value. For example, the idea of pride and leadership can be attributed to this animal.

Even in the arts, you will see this animal being used in all types of visual and performing media. So it's only natural that we at least learn how to draw one because people would be interested in a good visual representation of a lion.

The challenge here is creating realistic fur textures on the mane while retaining the muscle structures of the animal in your drawing. It may seem difficult at first but knowing the techniques to allow you to do this will make it a lot easier.

Step one of the lion drawing: gesture sketch

The first step should always involve a gesture drawing. This is just a simple drawing outlining the flow lines of the muscles as well as the proportions. I recommend doing this on a new layer to plan out the form and general pose.

As you sketch in the form, pay careful attention to the flow of the fur on the mane in regards to length. You want it in a natural direction with consideration of gravity. As well, the body itself should be top heavy with a smaller lower body.

lion drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

Once you are done with the gesture sketch, create a new layer underneath it and paint in a solid object in the shape of the lion sketch. That way, you have a good background color to paint details on. This will also serve to fill in any empty spots on your drawing.

From here, you can start blocking in some shadows of the lion object by locking that particular layer down. Just roughly sketch out the shadows in the underbelly with a dark value. Of course, merge the two layers together when you are done.

Step two of the lion drawing: smudging details

I advise you should use a range of chalk brushes for this step. These types of brushes have jagged edges that will create sections of fur as you start smudging in the lion object. Smudging serves to eliminate the gesture lines while creating muscle or fur textures.

With that in mind, go ahead and start smudging the gesture lines to form impressions of muscles and fur. At the same time, toggle between hard and soft pressure sensitivity in your smudge brush to get additional textures.

lion drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

Near the mane, you will need to smudge in sections. That is, smudge back and forth across one band of fur. Then, continue on to the second band of fur. Keep repeating this step until you finish smudging in the fur.

After that, use your eraser tool and clean up your lines and the anything that is out of place. Redraw in some of the areas to refine the muscle tones. This will get you ready to detail the lion object in regards to fur and hair.

Step three of the lion drawing: adding details

Knocking out the details is a relatively easy step now that you have your lion object in place. From here, just use a small chalk or solid brush to draw in the details. Just keep in mind that different sized brushes will yield various results.

First, continue to build up the muscle structures using a large chalk brush. Gently smudge in any textures that are too strong as you block in the muscles. Remember to lock your layer so you don't accidentally paint outside the boundaries.

lion drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

For the mane, switch to a smaller brush and just manually draw in small strokes in the direction of the fur segments. Slightly larger brushes can be used to add in darker values in the mane. Use it to separate layers in the mane. Gently smudge it into place as well.

Work on the facial features by suggesting areas where the light will hit such as the glare in the pupils, the reflections off the nose, and the patches of white fur near the mouth. Lastly, flare out the tail by smudging it.

Final step of the lion drawing: shading

The next step will involve bringing the lion object to life by adding careful light and shadow properties. There are many ways of doing this but the result is still the same.

First pick a large soft brush with a light color. From there, the goal is to glaze in the light color on the back of the lion. Apply the same concept and switch to the darker color to glaze over the underside.

As for the process of doing it, it will depend on your digital art software. If you are using Photoshop, you can try the clipping mask method. That is, draw your light and shadows on it, and then change that layer to a clipping mask that conforms to your lion object underneath.

lion drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

This method is a non-destructive editing method that allows you to adjust light and shadows without harming the lion object. If you don't have this equivalent feature, then you can duplicate the layer, lock it down, draw the shading, adjust the transparency, and merge it back to the lion object.

Of course, you can just paint it in manually on the lion object itself without having to do all that if you're confident of doing it right the first time. Regardless of the method, I hope you enjoyed this lesson and that your realistic lion drawing turns out the way you want it to.

With time, patience, and practice, you can create even more cool drawings using these simple and easy to follow drawing steps. See what other wild cats or animals you can draw.

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