How to draw animals | The 6 step Dairy Cow

How to draw a cow
How to draw a cow

Cows and calves can be found all around the world especially in the western culture are typical scenery of the landscape. As a dutch citizen cows are part of our culture and scenery. Ever since we started draining the polders 500 years ago, these beautiful animals are showing off in the meadows.

Cows are sweet and curious animals who like to stand in herds. Because cows are such big interesting animals I like to draw them.

In this blog you will also find a step-by-step plan so that you can learn to draw a cow step-by-step.

Cows come in all shapes and sizes in the netherlands comman species are the holstein-friesian (black and white cow), dikbil cow, blister heads, and several more.

These cows all have the same build and so we can make one anatomy study for mulitple species.

Cow Anatomy

All cows have the same muscle groups and by making an anatomy study, I usually get a good idea of how to simplify the cow to the most essential basic shapes and planes.

By studying the bone structure and muscle mass, you can see that the cow is a solid and heavy animal.

This can also be seen in its appearance and posture. It is an impressive animal that can defend itself well in the herd.

So once again you don’t need to know the exact anatomy, it’s more about getting an idea about how to put the animal on paper.

In the picture you see the skeleton with all the important muscle groups underneath.

In the study below the skeleton I tried to create shadows. This way the cow is more translated into large shapes and planes.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect anatomy drawing but as long as the rough shapes and proportions are correct. We’re just trying to put our idea of reality on paper.

Drawing a cow calf | Step by step

When you have a rough idea about the anatomy, you’re ready to start drawing the cow. It is important that you can put the essence on paper.

In this example I chose a calf, because I liked the picture I used as an example. And who doesn’t like calves.

When you draw the calf always start with the big shapes and work slowly towards the details. As shown in the steps below.

When you see draughtsmen drawing by heart, it means that they can skip several steps in their head.

I made these images in photoshop for the sake of clarity for the website.

I advise you to start with an HB pencil and in your sketchbook or a piece of paper and for example change to a 2B or even 4B pencil from Step 3 onwards.

If you are not satisfied with a line, erase it. We are all students and don’t be ashamed to correct yourself if you don’t like the line.

Step 1 | Flowing lines and large shapes

Cow drawing | step 1 gesture
Cow drawing | step 1 gesture

Actually, all steps on this website are almost the same, it is important that you work from big to small. The general though process of drawing animals is for me universal.

I always start with some big organic shapes combined with gesture lines. This step is from upmost importance because you lay the foundation work for the rest of the drawing.

Pay also attention to correct proportions and placing of your drawing. The placement of shapes within your drawing boundaries determine your overall composition. If you only do a study this is not that important, but when you draw or sketch for a beginning painting keep this in mind.

When the ground work is laid on paper and step 1 is finished I dissect the animal in different parts mainly the head, neck, shoulders, belly and legs.

Step 2 | Construction of large shapes

Cow drawing | step 2 construction
Cow drawing | step 2 construction

This step is for the most part imaginary, I try to imagine myself the big shapes. Because these big shapes will often muddy down your drawing. Therefore try avoiding them on paper.

Off course, when you first draw a new animal it can help to put these big shapes on paper. But only if you find it hard to imagine then I would put the essential shapes in your drawing.

The most helpful shape for me is the keystone shape at the shoulders. You then have a good basis to put the legs down.

Step 3 | Head and Neck

Cow drawing | step 3 head
Cow drawing | step 3 head

When you have the essence on paper, we can draw over the large forms step by step.
As mentioned earlier I always divide my subject into sections, for animals this is head, neck, shoulders, belly and legs.

For the Head, I start with the eyes and nose, these are important characteristics for me because they determine the proportion of the head. When these are correct I sketch the ears and the rest of the head on paper.

Try to get the proportions of the facial features right, these are often the focal point of your drawing. And people can easily sense if something is off with the drawing if the overall proportions does not match.

It is important that you draw between and around the large shapes. And only create the suggestion with minimal lines. As you can see above I only try to draw the “suggestion” of fur.

I work my way down and try to follow the anatomy of the beast. Because the cow has a lot of fur – depending of the subspecies – as opposed to the dog in another example, I don’t draw lines but sketch curves which should indicate the fur.

Don’t focus on every detail you see, because a drawing is just a representation of the artist perception of reality. And it is therefore not “THE” exact reality, you notice around you.

Tip: When drawing the coat don’t try to draw each hair separately but try to give the suggestion of shape.

Step 4 | Shoulders and Body

Cow drawing | step 4 body
Cow drawing | step 4 body

Again, try to think in big shapes and don’t get distracted by the details.

You will notice that the simpler the drawing the more pleasant it is to look at.

Cows stand high on their legs and are heavily built. When they are still calves they often have long legs in relation to their body. This can make them look clumsy when they hop through the meadow or fields. But this also gives them a lot of charm.

When I put the lines of the shoulder and the body I try to draw ‘around’ and ‘over’ the imaginary shapes and lines of step 1 and 2.

Step 5 | Legs

Cow drawing | step 5 legs
Cow drawing | step 5 legs

The legs can be a bit complex because muscles can be complex. Try to imagine the anatomy well and simplify it to the structure you see, for ease look to the anatomy study above.

If you have followed the steps above you will see that it slowly starts to look like a cow. And if you have already created a good looking cow, the next step is to indicate the details. Try to stop in time and not include too many details in your drawing.

Sometimes drawing less lines tells you more on the drawing.

Step 6 | Details , tonal value and color

Cow drawing | step 6 Tone and colour
Cow drawing | step 6 Tone and colour

Try to add some tonal value in your drawing, do this by applying the laws of light and shadow.

Erase the HB pencil construction lines from step 1 and 2, if you don’t want them in your details.

When you use a pencil this can be done by cross hatching or slightly fill the area with graphite. And when darker values needs to be put down on paper just press harder or use a 4B or even 6B graphite pencil.

Highlights can easily be created by erasing them in with your eraser.

I gave the cow some colour in this last example. I only did this because I liked it. And with colour everything just gets a little happier.

Further Steps

If you have followed the steps above, there is now a cow on your drawing. Maybe you are not satisfied with it yet, but this is going to be fine if you keep practicing.

Drawing is a skill that takes time, the same as any other profession. Remember that drawing is just a hobby and try to have a lot of fun with it.

If you want to draw even more cows you can take  pictures of cows outside or look up pictures online. The steps are exactly as indicated above, keep repeating this and before you know it you may call yourself an professional artist.

Good luck and more importantly have fun!

How to Draw Realistic Faces and Portraits | DrawPaint.Art

Portrait drawing step-by-step
Portrait drawing step-by-step
Portrait drawing step-by-step

A portrait is nothing else then a drawing of the face. Although good portrait drawing can be a life quest itself. 

Good artists try to put emotion into their portrait and that is why most famous portraits are non-standard portraits. 

For example if you look at the the night watch painting of Rembrandt van Rijn. He deviates from the path to make a standard painting. And this is one of the reasons he is celebrates as one of the best portrait artist ever known. 

Drawing faces won’t be easy but in this post I will give you a guideline with some references to resources which you could consider. 

Be aware, drawing good faces is difficult and you need to practice a lot. And for sure you will know a lot of frustration. And we all have been there. 

And to be honest I still go through a lot of frustration when I do portraits. 

Nonetheless, with good practice and a little theory, you can come a long way. 

This blogpost will cover first my anatomy study based on the head, afterwards we will zoom in on how to simplify the face and proportional relationship of the features. 

Lastly I will share a Step-by-step guide on how to draw any face. This method is based on the book “Drawing the head and hands” by Andrew Loomis.

Although this book is in today’s standard ancient, it is a hidden gem for portrait drawing. This book is a must have and the knowledge in this book is timeless.

Drawing faces and portraits basics

First of all let’s get a introduction in the basic principles in face and portrait drawing. We first start with the head anatomy.

After getting to know the anatomy we will start simplifying the head into planes and shapes which are understandable. 

And if we combine it with the head proportions, you will be set for life to start with drawing beautiful faces and portraits.

Head anatomy for artists

Humans are weird creatures, we see faces in everything e.g cars, trees and other daily objects. 

I saw faces everywhere but only until I started to draw. I started to understand how less I knew and how special the human head really is.

Human heads are available in all shapes and sizes, and your face is unique and determines that people recognize you for whom you are.

Although this is also why portrait drawing is very difficult. Because instinctively we see details and can easily sense when something is off. 

Therefore getting a exact likeness is maybe the hardest and frustrating of portrait commissions. 

Studying head anatomy can solving this problem partially. By knowing the human head, you can pinpoint on where to look for when setting the framework for the face. 

Knowing the anatomy can help you drawing realistic faces or develop your characters.

You can find below the anatomy study I did in photoshop, to make it clear for this website. 

Head anatomy for artists
Head anatomy for artists

First I drew the anatomy of the skull including the neck. I included this to get a understanding on how the body functions on the head.

After drawing in the skull, I started with investigating the face muscles. And what a unbelievable puzzle it was.

It took me around 4 days to lay in all the muscles and afterwards I ended up with more questions than I expected. e.g. Which faces move with what expression?

Important is when you do a anatomy study is to use your own skull. Try to feel with your hands on how your jawline is running or how the cheeks are flowing into your ears.

I realized that muscles are not important in defining your face. Your skull determines the landmarks of your face. 

For example the skull determines if your face is round, or square or has a big jawline. For many maybe a open door but for legs arms and bellies this is the opposite.

I won’t spoil too much because I had a lot of fun during this anatomy study. 

One incredible resource is the book “Classic Human Anatomy” of artist Valerie Winslow. It has beautiful drawings which depict the human body clearly. 

After understanding the anatomy we can have a look into the proportions of the facial features of the head.


The important thing of getting likeness of the person you are  drawing. Is getting the proportions of the facial features right.

There are round faces, boxed faces, diamond shaped faces and plenty of variation in between. 

In the loomis book, there is a drawing with overall proportions of a face. You probably think that you know were a nose is situated. Or where the mouth is placed.

But you will see how easy it is to misdraw them. 

For example it is easy to:

  • Draw the eyes not on one line and out of perspective.
  • Or draw the eyes not in the middle of the phase.
  • Draw the skull to small.
  • Or if you have drawn a lot of anima the mouth can be to low. 
  • Etc. etc. etc.

This are all mistakes which can be easily avoided by training yourself in the basic proportions.


Green; these are the two centerlines drawn horizontal and vertical over the face.

Red; To get the overall shape of the head, we place 4 lines over the head creating 3 equal sections. Starting from top to bottom the following is marked; hairline, eyebrow line, bottom of the nose and bottom of the chin.

Regarding the eyebrow line I put the line mostly over the bone structure which gives the eyebrows it’s form.

Red section 2; the ears are between the eyebrow line and the nose line. 

Blue; In the section 3 the mouth is placed half-way.

Violet; The head can be seen as 5 eyes wide. 

Dark violet: The pupils line up with the corners of the mouth.

Disclaimer: There are countless different faces and they for sure don’t all apply to above mentioned proportions. But nonetheless for the beginner the following standards are useful. And you need to know the rules before you can effectively break them. 

Planes of the head

To make the construction of the head easier, we need to translate the head to simple shape and forms. 

Below there are two examples given; the left one is from the book “Drawing the head and hands” from Andrew Loomis. 

And the right example is from the book “Figure drawing: design and invention” from Michael Hampton


I will show you how to use the planes of the head in below step-by-step instruction.

Drawing faces Step by Step

Finally to the fun stuff!!

If you have studied above material it is time to start your portrait drawing. Below instruction are mainly focussed on the general steps I take.

This step-by-step plan is mainly based on the loomis head drawing method. Besides I tried to use the fundamentals of the basic construction drawing. 

Step 1 | Cranial mass

We start with the ball which have two planes shaved off. This two planes must correspond with the sides of the head. 

A small cross is drawn in this ellipse where the most vertical line gives the tilt of the head. And the most horizontal line gives the starting point for the eyebrow line.

Step 2 | Centerlines

Portrait drawing step-by-step 2
Portrait drawing step-by-step 2

Afterwards we can set the two centerlines, one corresponding with the eyeline. The other corresponding with the middle of the face.

Stap 3 | Big Shapes 

Portrait drawing step-by-step 3
Portrait drawing step-by-step 3

We now can determine the big shapes, or the overall placement of the facial features by dividing the face in three sections. For details see above section facial proportions.

The lines show from top to bottom: the hairline, eyebrow line, bottom nose and the bottom of the chin.

Step 4 | Jaw shape

Portrait drawing step-by-step 04
Portrait drawing step-by-step 04

By finishing step 3, we are able to sketch in the jaw line which has a cone shape. Also I sketched some lines in section 2 which gives the eyes some depth. 

Step 5 | Basic shapes Eyes, Nose and ears.

Portrait drawing step-by-step 05
Portrait drawing step-by-step 05

On top of the already drawn shapes we determine the rough size of the nose and ears. Also important is the key stone shape which is helpful when you sketch in the eyes. 

Stap 6 | Details

Portrait drawing step-by-step 06
Portrait drawing step-by-step 06

In the final step we sketch in the final facial features. This can be done to draw over and around the determined shapes in the previous steps. 

The gap between step 5 and step 6 might be big, but this is done deliberately to focus on the whole face from the start. The details are the least important. 

Further Steps

The next important step is to keep practising, it is important to make a lot of pen milage and keep drawing. 

After many drawing you should become better at what you want to draw. Draw something 10 or 20 times and place the drawings next to each other and you will for sure notice a good difference.