Realistic Elephant Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A realistic elephant drawing shows a sense of grandeur and wonder because these are socially intelligent animals that we have come to respect. Now you can create an awesome drawing of an elephant in this guide on learning how to draw an elephant.

We love elephants because these are animals that are a subject of countless stories and a sacred animal to certain cultures. Perhaps this animal has a special meaning to you, which is why you are here right now.

Whatever the reason, build your own realistic elephant drawing by learning these easy steps needed to create this amazing land mammal. All you need is just an understanding of the form and let your basic drawing skills carry the rest.

Even the most complicated parts of this animal can be broken down into simple steps starting with the most basic shapes. It reminds me of the phrase, "how would you eat an elephant?" Answer: one bite at a time.

Sketching the realistic elephant drawing

The gesture phase of learning how to draw an elephant will be the most important. Here's where you decide the proportions and the stance of your animal. Start by drawing circles and lines on a new layer.

Think about the length, the pivoting points of the limbs, and any other features like the nose and the ears. At the same time, do some simple gesture lines of how you think the muscles will flow on the animal. We will turn these flow lines into actual muscles.

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From there, create a new layer underneath your gesture sketch and fill it with a neutral color to the dimensions of your gesture drawing. Make sure that it's 100% solid.

Once you are done that, go ahead and preserve the transparency of the solid object layer (so you don't accidentally paint out of its boundaries) and gently block in forms for the muscles with a large chalk brush.

Smudging the realistic elephant drawing

This phase of learning how to draw an elephant will require you to clean up the elephant object. But first, let's create some muscle mass. First, merge all the layers together if you haven't already done so.

Using your smudge tool, smudge the gesture lines along the side of the animal so it flows with the muscle groups. For example, smudge vertically when you are doing the limbs but smudge horizontally for the large body mass.

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Once you are satisfied with it, go ahead and clean up any gesture lines that are out of place with your eraser tool. You may want to work on the outline of the elephant as well to make sure that it conforms to the form that you are trying to portray.

Obviously, repaint and block in any parts of the animal that seems out of place. Remember to toggle the 'preserve transparency' option on and off according to your needs.

Detailing the realistic elephant drawing

This phase of learning how to draw an elephant is extremely fun. The details are not as hard as you think. Just make sure to preserve the transparency of your elephant object.

Clean up the tusk and flare out the tail at the end. Add in toenails to indicate individual toes. After that, you can work on the skin. Using a very small brush tool, draw random horizontal lines lightly around the limbs and sections of the body. Then, repeat this step drawing vertical lines.

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These lines represent drawing the wrinkles on the skin. Adding more lines means you are drawing an older elephant. Don't forget to put age lines on the nose to indicate bends in the skin.

For the ears, you may want to use the lasso tool to outline the ears. That way, you can paint within the confines of the lasso tool using a lighter color to make the ears stand out more. You can use the lasso tool technique to isolate the and paint in the long tusks.

Shading the realistic elephant drawing

At this point, you are almost done. All that is left is creating light and shadows to truly create a realistic realistic elephant drawing. It is a relatively simple process that can be done in a few strokes.

Since every object in the real world will be affected by a light source, choosing how you want the light to hit the elephant will yield different results in terms of light and shadows based on the angle.

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Using a large round brush, go ahead and glaze in sections of light and shadows on a new layer. When you are done, change it to a clipping mask at 50% (Photoshop only option) to reveal the details underneath.

If you do not have the convenience of Photoshop clipping masks, simple duplicate the elephant on a different layer, lock it down to start work on the shading, and merge it together with a low opacity once you have a good balance of light and shadow.

Otherwise, you can just paint right on the elephant layer if you feel comfortable with doing it right the first time. The choice is yours.

Using these simple steps, you can make anything look realistic and give it a professionally drawn look of your drawing of an elephant. Practice on other animals to further refine the process or to create one that works for you.