Realistic Panda Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

This lesson on a realistic panda drawing will showcase simple art techniques that are valuable to your artistic growth. Just follow along to pick up important art skills as well as making cool panda art on your own.

To start off, you will see just how easy it is to create form using just a few shapes. This is a very important step because it forces you to break down complicated objects into very basic shapes.

Not only that, but this particular realistic illustration will get you to look at what digital art tools are needed to create fur of different color values.

You will be using the digital brush tool, the smudge tool, and the eraser tool. The main thing here is to use the chalk brush head as the defining shape for all these basic tools.

That means you should be drawing, erasing, and smudging with the only chalk head pattern in all your drawing tools.

Sketching the realistic panda drawing

The first step for a realistic panda drawing is making sure you have a good base to work with. This is where your initial gesture sketch will come in handy. First, begin drawing a series of rounded circles for the face, ears, snout, neck, shoulders, belly, and rear legs.

The goal is to focus on creating posture and the correct proportions. The gesture sketch should be done on a separate layer as you don't want it to be attached to a plan white background.

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Once you are done that, create another layer underneath your gesture sketch. Set the pen pressure sensitivity to 100% and fill it in the shape of your panda gesture drawing. Finally, go ahead and merge both layers together.

This way, you will have a nice solid object, which is separated from the background, for you to chisel out the details of your panda drawing. At this point, you can start blocking out simple forms such as the legs and the head as a means to separate these sections from the main body.

Smudging the realistic panda drawing

In this stage of learning how to create a realistic panda drawing, you are going to switch over to the smudge tool. As mentioned earlier, use the chalk styled brushes as much as possible.

To continue, start smudging out patches of fur from your solid shape of your panda drawing. The different sizes of the chalk head will yield different thickness and textures of the fur.

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Once you are done smudging, you can refine the fur even more. For example, let's say the angle of the fur is a bit off. To paint the desired angle without altering the current shape, preserve the transparency of your object (locking down the shape of the layer so you don't accidentally paint outside the outlines of the panda).

Then, pick a large brush with the chalk head, and then glaze of the panda drawing with the proper angles. When you are satisfied, the next step would be to create the black patches.

Detailing the realistic panda drawing

There are many ways to create patches in this realistic panda drawing. The methods will depend on how comfortable you are with your digital art program and its limits. If you're using Photoshop, I suggest building a clipping mask on top of your panda drawing.

Essentially, it is a layer that you can paint on but it is confined to the panda shape so you can't paint out of the boundaries. This will preserve the original panda drawing. Additionally, you can copy the panda drawing, paint the patches as per normal, and then alter the transparency to reveal your panda underneath.

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Otherwise, you can just paint the patches right on the panda object. It's all up to what you feel most comfortable with. As for the patches, there are black patches for the ears, eyes, the forearms (goes around the entire back shoulders), and at the base of the hind legs.

When you are done with this step, we need to include a bit of lighting to match the animal with its background.

Shading the realistic panda drawing

As it stands, the panda drawing seems flat without some form of directional light acting on it. We will need to give it depth by creating shadows and lighting. Again, you can use the clipping mask technique or simply paint right on the panda object.

First, you will need to change your brush head. Instead of using the chalk brush, switch it to a large soft round brush. Then, preserve the transparency of your panda layer and begin glazing over sections of light (back, outline of the head, etc).

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If you are using a clipping mask, simply alter the transparency of the mask to reveal the details of the panda. Otherwise, you will need to be very careful with how strong you want to do the lighting effects.

The same process can be repeated to create shadows. For instance, you will create dark patches of shadows underneath the belly.

After that, it's just painting and repainting any necessary details. You can even use additional tools like the dodge and burn brushes to bring out color contrasts in your panda drawing even more.

In the end, this lesson breaks up a realistic panda drawing into manageable parts that are easy to do. Just practice and apply what you have learned into more complicated shapes and you will find that even the most difficult drawings become that much more manageable.