How to Draw a Zebra in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Interested in learning how to draw a zebra? This tutorial will help you look for the important aspects of this animal so you can create a realistic zebra drawings and zebra art. The tips found here will simply a lot of the difficult drawing processes associated with zebra stripes.

So what do we need to look for? Well, aside from the mane and the stripes, you need to be aware of proportions. This is the most single important piece of the puzzle. As long as the form is correct, everything will fall into place.

When we think of a zebra, we think of a stripped horse. While it's true that zebras are part of the horse family, the proportions are more close to a large donkey or mule. That means the head is larger in relation to the body.

The goal here will get you to look at all the special traits of a zebra to find solutions to drawing stripes, muscles, and the right proportions. It's very easy once the basic shapes are established through a quick sketch.

How to draw a zebra: gesturing the base

Like all drawings, learning how to draw a zebra begins with a proper gesture sketch. This is where we will focus on proportions and getting the right shape down. Don't worry about stripes just yet. Just concentrate on the body and the mane.

Breaking down the gesture drawing, you will discover that the head is a lot larger in comparison to the body. That is why a zebra resembles the proportions of a donkey. After that, concentrate on the thin legs and rounded belly as you draw your gesture sketch.

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Once you are done, create another layer underneath your sketch. Fill is with a nice light color with 100% pressure. You want to do this to make sure that the color is perfectly solid with no transparent properties.

From there, lock the layer down and begin blocking in light for the muscles. Locking down the layer just means you can't paint out of its boundaries by accident. When you are done that, go ahead and merge it all together.

How to draw a zebra: smudging

With your solid zebra object in place, go ahead and clean up the edges a bit. Erase unneeded gesture lines. This will get you ready for the next step of learning how to draw a zebra--smudging out the details.

Essentially, you will be using two types of smudge brushes: chalk and round brushes. Near the mane, use a chalk brush to fan out the hair on the back.

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As for the body, you may want to consider locking down the layer as you don't want to distort the shape of the body. From there, switch to a round brush and begin smudging in the gesture lines to create points of muscles.

After that, switch back to your brush tool and being refine some of the muscles with a chalk brush. Think of the muscles on a human body as, (not) surprisingly, all the muscle groups are identical.

How to draw a zebra: adding stripes

You just need to remember that the stripes are as unique as the animal, which allows you to be as creative as you want with the width and length.

With your software, set the pressure sensitivity to change the width of the brush. That means the harder you push, the thicker the line becomes.

I recommend you do this on a different layer so you can get the stripes you want (convert to a clipping mask if you are using Photoshop to confine it to the shape of the zebra object). Then, when you are satisfied with the arrangements, you can merge it to the main body at a later time.

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Anyway, as you paint the stripes, make sure to align it to the curvature of the muscles. I've reduced the opacity of my layer so I can see the muscles underneath a little bit more easily.

As well, make sure to transition between horizontal stripes located on the face and limbs with the vertical stripes on the rest of the body. Of course, reduce the size of the stripes on the face and the limbs.

How to draw a zebra: adding light and shadows

The final step will just consist of refining the colors that you have. If you are satisfied with the stripes, go ahead and combine it with the main zebra object.

After that, create a new layer just for light and shadows. You can change this to clipping mask once more if you're using Photoshop. Otherwise, just lock the layer and glaze in areas of light and shadows with a round brush.

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Other tools you can use are applying the dodge and burn tools directly on the zebra object (if you have merged everything together already). This way, you can do everything all at once without switching to different layers all the time.

You can even change the entire contrast and brightness settings of the image as a whole. This will bring out the stripes on a global level. As you can see, there are many options to getting the same effect.

As long as you are drawing where the light can and can't penetrate, you can make a realistic zebra drawing and zebra art using whatever digital tools you have at your disposal.

It is the same for everything you draw. From simple gesture drawings, to filling it in to form a solid object, to refining, and finally adding shading, these key steps will help you draw anything effectively.