Cartoon Wolf Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A cartoon wolf drawing is a great way to quickly draw a wolf that is both easy and fun. While there are many ways to create a wolf cartoon, this sketching presentation will focus on a cuter deformed version of this amazing wild animal.

Deciding on what the cartoon wolf drawing should do expression wise has to be done ahead of time. Does the cartoon show the wolf running? Is the animal being active, aggressive, or passive? These decisions will be based on the context given to the artist.

Determining the style is the next step. A big challenge is how close the animal comes to looking like other canines. When a cartoon has real life proportions, this is less of a problem. However, the more deformed the animal looks, the more the artist has to look at other means of distinguishing it.

When it's time to draw it, a sketch is a great starting point. Beyond that, it would be up to the skill and knowledge of the individual artist in what he or she wants to achieve. Therefore, consider this guide one of many ways to draw a cartoon wolf drawing. Use it as a supplementary example to pull from anytime.

Sketching the cartoon wolf drawing

There are some distinguishing features of a wolf that needs to be drawn first: a bell shaped head, long narrow snout, a square body, and a bushy tail curved upwards. A wolf that is in a neutral position is an effective way to focus on these traits.

When deforming the wolf, pick a ratio between the head and the body that makes sense to the style. For cuter drawings, a ratio of 1:1 where the head is about as large as the body is a good rule of thumb to follow. Otherwise, play around with the ratio that is required of the drawing to fit a certain style.

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A change in ratio also leads a change in deformation on the entire body. For instance, the eyes and ears become a much more predominant feature. For the body, the limbs become thicker and the tail becomes larger.

Aim to include some simple shading to get an idea of where the fur patches goes as well as giving the entire sketch some weight. In short, 80 percent of the drawing is done in this step as it is really nothing more to get the tone of the entire composition down.

Cleaning up the cartoon wolf drawing

Through experience, cute cartoon drawings may have more than one use. In a few scenarios, the entire drawing is used. Other times, only the head is needed to keep thing simplified. Stuff like badges or logos are excellent examples of where only the head is needed.

To be as efficient as possible or unless told otherwise, aim to have a drawing that can be altered easily to have the full body or the head. For this purpose, there should be one layer for the head and one layer for the body in that regard.

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One method is to build a completed outline first of the entire drawing and then separate it later. This will involve duplicating the drawing twice. After that, erase the body on one layer to leave the head intact. Conversely, on the duplicated layer, erase the head so the body is intact.

The other method is to separate the head and the body from the original sketch right off the bat whereby no details have been done yet. The disadvantage is that unifying the composition going back and forth between the two layers can get a bit tricky. Once this has been decided on, draw in the details using the sketch as a guideline.

Coloring the cartoon wolf drawing

The meat of the cartoon wolf drawing would be deciding how much detail is needed for the drawing. A cartoon using more traditional approach to coloring will have more colors to define fur and other details. This is used for promotional materials that can take advantage of more vibrant colors.

On the other hand, a more simple approach to color will lose some detail, but will have a more wide variety of uses. Combined with just the head, this can be used for more physical products where limited colors are a benefit to reduce complexity and costs.

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Either method is completely acceptable so long as the right expectations are set. For the actual details, lock the layers down, and block in the fur patches that form the head using a chalk brush head. The body is primarily grey as well except for the limbs.

To get the cartoon lines, this can be drawn on a separate layer on top. However, in Photoshop, layer styles can automatically create a black outline around the head and body objects. This method will also highlight uneven transparency and badly erased patches. Just make sure the objects are clean for this method to work properly.

Shading the cartoon wolf drawing

Having completed most of the details, the final step will utilize built in global options to bring out the wolf cartoon a bit more. There are a few ways that this can be done: color contrasts, gradient fills, and filter manipulation.

Color contrast options can quickly bring out the drawing with a few clicks. Alternatively, it may also bring out some uneven coloring that requires some more manual cleanup. This won't be too much of an issue with flat colors but will be more noticeable with vibrant colors.

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Contrasts can be easily done with Photoshop's adjustment layers. Just click the adjustment layer icon in the layers panel to bring it up. From there, adjust the contrast/brightness levels and then move it to the topmost level to affect the entire drawing.

Optionally, a black to white gradient set to 'overlay' or 'soft light' is great to get more vibrant colors. This can be done via another adjustment layer or it can be done directly on the object through a layer style. As for additional layer styles, the same 'outline' style can be used to increase the thickness of the cartoon lines.

As for filters, the 'surface blur' filter is excellent to blend in uneven color sketch lines. Unlike other blurring effects, this special filter keeps the differences in color edges. Therefore, it retains the fur patch details while smoothing out colors all around it.

While there is an emphasis on Photoshop tools, other drawing software will have its own unique set of tools to get better cartoon effects. Though, at the end of the day, these are just tools used to enhance colors of an existing drawing. It is still up to the skill of the individual artist to get to that point.