How to Draw an African Wild Dog

How to Draw an African Wild Dog

African Wild Dogs (or Cape Hunting Dogs) are the African equivalents of wolves and are not found anywhere else in the World. African Wild Dogs are also often called Painted Wolves because of their unique coats. This tutorial will show the steps involved in drawing a Wild Dog and the patchwork-patterning of their fur.

Difficulty: 4*

Required Equipment:

  • Pencils: HB-4B
  • Cotton buds/pads/tissues or Q-Tips
  • Eraser


Step 1:


Wild Dog
Begin by drawing two oval, slightly egg-shaped ellipses – a small one for the head and a large one for the hind quarters. Connect the top of these two ovals with a straight line bent slightly at the shoulders as shown.


Step 2:


Wild Dog
Draw the nose/jaw, rear legs and underside as shown.


Step 3:

Wild Dog

Add further details. The shoulder of the front leg should slot in just behind the oval of the head and sit on the curve of the underside. Don’t forget to add the other front paw just behind the head. Both the front legs are elevated slightly in this drawing because the Wild Dog is propped up on a carcass.


When drawing the ears, look for reference points to make sure you draw them in the right place. In this particular pose, the bottom of the ear lines up with the top of the nose/muzzle. The tip of the bottom edge is also slightly above the centre point of the oval.


You can choose to not include the feet of the rear legs if you are going to draw dense grass beneath the Wild Dog at the end. That is what I chose to do in this drawing. If not, then drawing them is pretty straightforward. Make sure you make the feet point in slightly different angles to give the drawing some more depth and give the Wild Dog a more realistic pose.

Lastly, add an elongated, football shaped tail. In the reference picture I used, the tail was up as shown. This makes the drawing a bit more dynamic.

Step 4:

Wild Dog


Erase the unused parts of the guidelines and begin to add details as shown. In this particular drawing, the face was in shadows and that means it can just be shaded a solid black so you don’t need to worry about drawing the eyes.

Step 5 – Drawing the Coat:

Wild Dog


Draw the basic framework for the fur pattern. Because this requires a lengthy explanation, I have made a separate tutorial on how to draw a Wild Dog coat which you can read here. Follow the steps in the tutorial to help you draw the following steps:


Wild Dog


Wild Dog


Wild Dog



Step 6:

Wild Dog


There is much denser fur under the chin and on the neck which requires a 3B or 4B pencil. The technique to draw this fur is very simple – use the side of the pencil led to make short, fat strokes in a direction perpendicular to the underside of the neck and face. As usual, don’t apply too much pressure to begin with, just add more layers to build up the darkness. At the end you may need to apply a bit more pressure as you add some more defined strokes to give the fur some definition.


Step 7:


Wild Dog


As mentioned earlier, the face is shaded entirely black and doesn’t require any details at all.


Step 8:


Wild Dog


Add fur details behind the ears and on the belly. Follow this texture tutorial to draw these areas, although you probably won’t need to make too many highlights, if any at all (steps 4 and 5 of that tutorial).


You can also choose to add some highlights to the top of the Wild Dog’s back. Although there is usually very little white in an African Wild Dog coat, they are predominantly a light tan colour. In light, this tan colour appears very light, and as this drawing is in grayscale, the tan patches on the Wild Dog’s back should appear white. I cover this aspect of the drawing in the tutorial on drawing Wild Dog coats.


Step 9:


Wild Dog


Add the shadows on the hind leg as shown. Also, begin to draw the tail as shown.


Step 10:


Wild Dog


At this stage, the drawing of the Wild Dog is pretty much finished. A few details still need to be added. In this step, tidy up the tail by removing most of the strong border around the white tip and adding a few streaks to add a bit of detail. Then, shade and add small claw and pad details to the legs and feet – don’t forget the foot behind the head!


We now must start drawing the carcass that the Wild Dog is eating. In the reference photo I used, the carcass appears as a complete mess of sharp edges and shades – so that’s what I drew. I can’t really offer any guide on how to do this as it didn’t involve any real structure, but I tried to scan the carcass drawing as often as possible so you can just replicate each stage as shown. You could opt for a far less detailed carcass as well, or even a log or something else. Use your imagination.


Step 11:


Wild Dog


In this stage, I added quite a large shaded area to the carcass. This gives a bit of balance to the carcass as the lower region has all sorts of small details.


Step 12:


Wild Dog


At this stage, the carcass is pretty much finished. But the drawing isn’t – you must still add a shadow beneath the Wild Dog. It can be quite difficult to draw a shadow if there isn’t a clear shadow in your reference picture (as was the case in this instance) – so draw a rudimentary shadow as shown and then we will draw grass all over it.


Step 13:


Wild Dog


Drawing grass like this can be quite intimidating, especially if you lack confidence, as you will have to draw over the drawing a bit and doesn’t leave much room for error. But I would really recommend trying to do so as I think it gives the drawing a more finished look (and it hides the ugly shadow from the previous step!). Make sure you practise the grass technique on a scrap piece of paper beforehand – all it involves are simple, medium length pencil strokes with the fine point of a sharp pencil. Remember that the grass should be pretty faint, so use an HB pencil and don’t press too hard. Once you get the hang of it, it is really very easy.


A little tip is to make the grass on the edges of the drawing a little fainter than the rest. This makes the drawing blend into the page nicely.


This concludes the tutorial – I hope you found it helpful and informative. Be sure to check out some other tutorials and stay tuned for the next one sometime soon.

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