Realistic Monkey Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Here is an opportunity to create a realistic monkey drawing in this guide on how to draw a monkey. Just follow along in these simple steps and be confident in your ability to create a monkey that is visually accurate.

Using some of the most basic art tools, we will go step by step and look at what the process is for drawing this animal as this is a popular animal that you don't want to overlook.

After all, this fun animal is a subject of humor and curiosity that we just can't ignore. Just look around any form of literature. In a lot of children's books and art illustrations, monkeys are represented in many unique ways that shows their relationships with people.

While there is a lot of different species we can draw, I am going to focus on drawing a squirrel monkey as they are very cute. You may have your own favorite type of monkey that you want to focus on.

Sketching the realistic monkey drawing

The gesture sketch is a crucial step in a monkey drawing. Since there are a lot of different kinds of monkeys with different limb lengths, it is important you get the right proportions down.

For instance, a squirrel monkey has long thing arms and legs that are the same length. The position of the subject must adhere to these proportions.

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After I get the gesture sketch, it's a good idea to create a new layer underneath it and filled it with a neutral color. This is to make sure that the drawing has a nice solid object color to fill in any gaps of missing color.

From there, lock the layer down (so you don't paint out of its boundaries) and start blocking in light and shadow areas with a large chalk brush. Merge the layers together when you are done.

Smudging the realistic monkey drawing

The next step in a realistic monkey drawing is to take the gesture drawing and smudge out the details. I recommend using a spatter or chalk brush shape for the smudge tool.

I suggest smudging in very short strokes back and forth in the direction of where you think the fur will be on the body. The chalk brush will smudge fur in a uniform pattern that is continuous.

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The spatter brush shape will create little bits of fur from the gesture drawing that is spread out. You will get more refined fur with this type of brush head.

After you are done most of the smudging, you can start refining some of the details. Using a small brush, block in simple shapes for the face and switch to a larger brush for the sections of shadow on the hind limbs.

Detailing the realistic monkey drawing

You will probably spend a lot on this section of the realistic monkey drawing due to all the details. But first, make sure to 'preserve transparency' of the monkey object so you don't accidentally paint outside of its borders.

You will be using a variety of digital art brushes to get the job done. For detailed fur, choose a very large spatter brush and start dabbing in sections of fur. Switch between dark and light tones to create a nice variation of fur on the monkey drawing.

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Any particular details like the face, switch to a small round brush and begin manually painting in strands of fur as well as detailing out any facial features (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc).

A good thing to note is that the hands and feet of a squirrel monkey are very similar to ours. So if you are good with drawing hands, this should be an easy step.

Shading the realistic monkey drawing

The final steps just need you to fix up the values a bit. I recommend creating a clipping mask (Photoshop only) and create a layer specifically for your light and shadows.

That way, you can paint in all the necessary shadows without editing the monkey drawing since it's on a different layer that adheres to the shape of the monkey layer.

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If you do not have Photoshop, another method is to duplicate the monkey drawing, locking the layer, paint the light and shadows on that layer, reduce the transparency, and then merge it all together.

Otherwise, just lock the layer down once more and then paint in the shadows and light directly on the monkey object. You can also use the dodge and burn tools to highlight areas of light and shadows without editing the fur textures too much.

Finally, you can use the sharpen tool to bring out sections of fur in the animal. Of course, you can always repaint any areas that are out of place.

While there are a lot of techniques that are present in this lesson, these are techniques that you can use over and over again to make wonderful artworks. It is a process that is both simple and gives excellent results if you practice it a lot.