When I started to learn how to draw a rabbit, I often found the fur challenging to draw. However, once you know a few tips and tricks for the fur, a rabbit drawing becomes incredibly enjoyable rather than frustrating when drawing it realistically.
To start off, I think the biggest mistake any beginner can make is that they see a lump of fur instead of the rabbit’s form. When that happens, the artist will get into a habit of just focusing on the little tiny fur strands instead of the overall shape.
No matter the subject, you need to know its form as best as possible. Even for learning how to draw a rabbit, where the form seems to be a series of fur balls clumped together, there are a lot of intricate parts to study.
In fact, the neck and limbs are not short by any means. The neck curls inwards while the limbs are compressed in a zigzag fashion. Combined with fat and fur, this is how it gives the rabbit an illusion of shortened limbs.
The rabbit drawing should begin in a new layer. With your simple drawing tool, generating a gesture sketch outlining some of form. I recommend starting with the head first and work down. Picture the skeleton underneath as you draw circles and triangles around its skeletal frame.
For example, draw two circular lines for the chest and the lower part of the rabbit. Then, link it together with a nice oval arch to signify the back. The oval arch should correspond to the arching skeleton when the animal is crouching.
For the limbs, it may get a little bit tricky. You may think that you are doing just a few circles for the arms and legs. However, do not get caught up in its simplicity like I mentioned. The circular form must hint at all the joints of a regular leg.
Once you have the gesture drawing down, create another layer. This time, fill it with a neutral color that fits the gesture drawing, lock it down, and the dab in simple shadows to create more form. Once you are done, merge both layers together.
In this step of learning how to draw a rabbit, you will need to smudge the lines of your gesture drawing into recognizable amounts of fur. In order to smudge it correctly, you will need a small chalk tip for your smudge tool.
Begin working on smudging in bands. Aim to create segments of value with the gesture lines. Any time the smudge lines becomes too long, push it back in, with disconnected stroke lines, to reduce the fur coming out of the frame.
Plus, make sure you are smudging with the curvature of the entire body. While some of the limbs may seem in the way, you need to smudge in a way that suggests the compact legs while still retaining the overall shape of the body and limbs.
You may need to switch back to your brush tool to fill in any areas that do not have enough lines for you to smudge. At this stage, start blocking out more shaded areas like the belly, face, and separation of the small tail from the rest of the body.
Here, we are going to do patches of fur that follows the curvature of the body. The trick here is to select a sponge type tip for the smudge tool and the brush tool. The sponge pattern will allow you to create long streaks of fur without much effort. Dabbing it will create short fur.
On the body, use long strokes in patches to create a bands of very fine fur. On the head, consider just tapping the canvas to give those short fur strands. Swap between light and dark colors so you can get more variations going.
Changing the size of the brush will allow access to tighter spots. With the same brush head, change the size of the brush to work on the chin or further outline the limbs from the rest of the body once the major fur patches have been done.
You can even combine the sponge tip with the smudge tool. Doing so will create smudges that create a natural fur border on the rabbit drawing. Use it to refine the paws, tails, the curvature of the back, and even the ears.
The last part of learning how to draw a rabbit would be to add a light source, shading, as well as highlighting all the hard work done on the fur. Adding a light source is easiest done on a separate layer. Using a large round brush, gentle color in areas of light like the back and the ears.
Shadows can be done on a new layer underneath the rabbit drawing. Again, swap to a large round brush to gently place a cast shadow. If the light is closer to the object, then I recommend using a chalk brush for the cast shadow to create a harder edge versus a softer edge.
The last part that you have to add are the whiskers. Typically, you do this last and on a separate layer. This is because it will cover over the rabbit. Any details you want to rework will have the whisker covering it. With that said, add whiskers near the mouth and the chest areas.
Once you are done, you can try sharpening the entire drawing. One of the best ways to do this is to duplicate the entire drawing as a different layer. From there, just do a global sharpening filter on the entire drawing.
As it's on a different layer, you can also play with the blend modes. Having it set to soft light, for example, will further create contrast between light and dark values. You can adjust the slider accordingly to adjust the contrast.
From start to finish, the entire drawing takes only a few key brush tips and simple drawing tools that are all basic default options. No custom brushes were used. You can draw a lot more other animals with these simple and forward steps.