African Wild Dogs have one of the most unusual fur coats in the animal kingdom, resembling military camouflage more than anything found in nature. Fortunately, there is massive variation in the patterns of each Wild Dog so you can’t really go wrong. That said, it is still quite difficult to draw the patterns in the fur whilst still capturing the actual fur texture as well. This tutorial will demonstrate a simple technique that produces realistic looking Wild Dog fur.
- Pencils: HB-4B
- Cotton buds/pads/tissues or Q-Tips
This is the sort of pattern framework we are aiming for. Notice how the pattern follows the contours of the legs and how the pattern is quite jagged. I like the jagged look, it makes the pattern a lot more dynamic and it makes the patches flow into one-another nicely, giving the fur a natural look.
Drawing the patches that make up most of the Wild Dog’s coat is easy. Instead of drawing the borders of the patches as an oval, I break it up into segments of irregular curves. This gives the patches the jagged look mentioned earlier.
This is just another shot to show the basic design of the patches. The lines should be fuller and blotchy, like in the first picture, not a uniform thickness. This just gives an idea of the shape.
The pattern should be drawn quite dark – use a 3B or 4B pencil to darken it once you are happy with how it looks.
Once the pattern outline is finished, it is time to shade over and around it. Wild Dog fur ranges from white to tan to dark brown to black in colour, so your shading should reflect this. I would usually advise against doing dark shading first because you can smudge your work, but when drawing animals, especially animals like Wild Dogs with such patchy coats, a few small smudges won’t be a problem. In this instance, most of the pattern and fur texture comes from the dark shading so it was important to get it right before proceeding with the drawing.
There isn’t much intricate lighter shading required. For the most part, it is very straightforward shading:
Highlighted in the red circle is a region where the dark fur blends more smoothly into the lighter shades with a few fine streaks to make it look more like fur. To draw this, follow these steps:
Begin by roughly shading away from the dark fur in long pencil strokes that follow the shape of the dark fur markings.
Now, smooth this shading out with a q-tip or cotton bud.
Finally, repeat the first, adding pencil strokes over the smooth shading. Be sure to be a bit more careful this time as you won’t be smoothing these pencil strokes out (they give it the hair/fur texture). You should have these little blended sections scattered around the coat, but don’t go overboard or else the coat will become too cloudy and the pattern will look indistinct.
Aside from finishing off the shading and adding a few more hair textures here-and-there, you may wish to add some white/light tan patches of fur. I have done just that in the regions shown. Just use your eraser and lightly erase the regions. Try to get a smooth transition between the shaded fur and the white patches, and you can add a bit of transitional shading afterwards to tidy it up. In my drawing, it may appear that there is too much white fur – but remember that in grayscale, tan appears very light.
This concludes the tutorial, be sure to check out the full tutorial on how to draw an African Wild Dog which I will be posting at some stage in the next few days. See below for the finished drawing, plus two other drawings to see some examples of different patterns.