Realistic Giraffe Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

In this tutorial on creating a realistic giraffe drawing, we are going to learn a few neat techniques for drawing giraffe spots and skin textures. So read on, get your drawing tools ready, and find out how to create realistic realistic giraffe drawings now.

There are many ways to draw this animal. For the most part, simple brushes, smudge tools, and eraser tools will suffice. To speed things up, there will be some new and optional tricks that you may want to use in order to learn how to draw a giraffe.

Now, depending on your drawing software, you may not have these options. That is fine too. It just means you just have to do it the manual way of simply drawing in the giraffe spots.

Just work with what you have and critically think about ways to approach difficult drawing areas using what you are familiar with. Otherwise, it is a good opportunity to expand what you know and can do.

Sketching a realistic giraffe drawing

It's always a good idea to start off with a gesture sketch to look at proportions and form. For instance, the total length of the legs are around two body widths long. The neck is equal to the length of the front limbs. What measurements are you able to find on your own?

Use simple squares and rectangles on the overall form to help you measure the animal. Use circles to signify ball joins in each limb. Also, create simple flow lines to depict rough muscle areas.

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Once you are done with your gesture sketch, create a new layer underneath and paint it with a neutral color. Use 100% pressure to make sure that the object is solid as you fill the internal outlines of your giraffe drawing.

After that, merge the layers into place and start blocking in some simple forms to give your drawing some depth and rough details. Having a solid background in the shape of what you want to draw makes things a lot more easier.

Smudging the realistic giraffe drawing

Now that you have all your rough gesture lines, flow points, and the base color in place, it's time to bring it all together to create realistic muscle and skin textures. To do that, you are going to switch to the smudge tool. Select a solid round a chalk brush head and begin to smudge the gesture lines and flow points in the giraffe object.

You should be smudging in a controlled fashion that corresponds to the direction of the muscles. You may also wish to repaint or erase the outlines a bit as a means to fine tune your giraffe object.

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Once you are done that, it's time to block in some more form in your realistic giraffe drawing. Preserve the layer transparency of your giraffe layer so you don't accidentally paint outside of the perimeters.

From there, use the chalk brush and block in spots for the joints and any other muscle points that may have gotten smudged incorrectly. Remember, you don't have to be too exact as your flow lines should give you a rough estimate of all the major muscle groups.

Detailing the realistic giraffe drawing

Normally, you can just manually paint the spots on a different layer and then combine it together by merging it. If you're comfortable with doing that, then that's definitely an option. Otherwise, we are going to use some filters to get the spots in.

Depending on your drawing software, you may have variations on this option. I am using Photoshop and its internal stock filters to get this effect. First, create a new layer and fill it with black. Then, select the foreground color and change it to white (the white foreground color will be the color that will divide the spots up).

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From there, go to Filter › Texture › Stained Glass, choose a good size for the spots, and then hit OK. The result: you should have a nice random quad texture. Then, change that layer to a clipping mask so it falls in line with the giraffe layer. I recommend also changing the blend mode to 'soft light' and the opacity of the layer to hide the white division lines.

One thing you have to realize that the sizes of the textures will always be consistent. That means, despite this easy shortcut, you will still need to manually erase and repaint in some of the spots near the belly, head, and lower limbs because the spots are smaller in those areas.

Shading the realistic giraffe drawing

Whether you are drawing the spots manually or through a filter system, the end result is that you are going through the process of finding multiple solutions to the same problem. All that is left is to create lighting and shadowing effects to make your giraffe look believable.

You can continue to paint on the current giraffe object, use other tools like a clipping mask, or duplicating the giraffe object to repaint the lighting effects (then changing the transparency of that layer to reveal the details underneath).

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Whichever method you decide to use, I would recommend a large soft brush. Start off by glazing the majority of the back side, bits of tail/head to show the direction of the light source, and white spots on the legs/belly for skin tones.

Then, use a darker color and work on the overall underbelly where the light will not penetrate properly. Emphasis the darker shades of the inner limbs to give you this effect.

All in all, the main objective here is to refine anything that looks out of place. Focus on any particular details you may have missed such as the horns on the head, the beak-like appearance of the snout, or the bright spots shinning off the eyes.

In the end, playing around with the tools learned here will serve you well in your endeavor to find solutions to difficult drawing problems. Just continue practicing what you have learned and you will go far in drawing giraffes and other complicated animals.