Bears appeals to everyone’s imagination, they are large land mammals which come in various species located all across the world.
The Syrian brown bear is even mentioned in the bible three times. This makes bears a valuable part of the human culture.
Most bears are omnivorous because they can’t afford to make many choices. Because they are so big, they burn a lot energy and can’t be picky on what they will consume.
A long time ago we also had bears in the western part of europe, only when people came with agriculture we chased the bears away.
Luckily there are still bears living in eastern europe, but they are relatively rare.
Many cultures see the animal as a symbol of strength and power. And to be honest, the bear has earned it.
If you don’t know where to on how to draw bears, I will explain step-by-step how to draw a bear.
Or at least there are thousands of ways to draw bear, but I am trying to explain my method to you.
Bears are pretty easy to draw because they often have a lot of fur and have round shapes because the muscalature is not visible. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to think so much about the anatomy.
When you see artist drawing from their imagination, it means that they can skip several steps in their head.
As a artist you need to work on your visual library and process.
A visual library is necessary to allow yourself to come up with imaginary images and references.
The process is important to allow yourself to break the subject in smaller parts, after you can easily approach any subject.
By doing the anatomy study I allow myself to work on my visual library, I can check if I missed some details. And the Step by Step guide offers you a beginning reference on how I approach drawing animals. The step by step guide is therefore my thoughprocess, If you need more steps there is nothing wrong with that.
Bear Anatomy for Artists
Beginning tutorials often show steps to make you draw a bear, but the importance of a anatomy study is often neglected.
An anatomy study is important because you learn to understand the shapes and planes of the animal. Also when you get familiar with animal anatomy, it can tell you a lot about the place it inhabits in it’s ecosystem.
I notice when I draw the animal and I didn’t study it’s anatomy I run into all kinds of obstacles.
I question myself “How does the animal walk?”, “What are the freedom of movement? or “what are those shapes doing there?” and there are countless questions that I don’t have the answer to before I start drawing.
When I study the animal extensively, I get a better idea of how the animal is constructed. Eventually You will see what happens under the skin, the muscles and bones which makes the animal uptill a beautiful machine.
Above you will find my detailed study for the skeleton and muscles.
It is a beautiful animal with a unbelievable amount of strength and power.
In the study shown below the skeleton, I tried to create shading. In this way the animal is translated more into surfaces and shapes.
You really don’t need to know the exact anatomy, it’s more about eventually getting an idea of how to put the animal on paper. Your drawing will eventually get a lot more life if the rough basic shapes are correct.
This has everything to do with the fact that everyone has seen a gorilla and knows subconsciously what it looks like. If you want to draw a realistic primate or monkey and the proportions or anatomy are not quite right, people will realize that there is something wrong with the drawing. Even if they can’t pinpoint this error.
It does not have to be a perfect drawing, but sketching the rough lines or proportions can help a lot.
Drawing a Brown Bear | Step by step
When you have a rough idea about the anatomy, you’re ready to start drawing the bear. It is important that you can put the essence on paper.
When you draw the animal always start with the big shapes and work slowly towards the details. As shown in the steps below.
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 with a eraser if you don’t like the line.
Step 1 | Flowing lines and large shapes
Actually, all steps on this website regarding animal drawing are almost the same, it is important that you work from big to small shapes. The general though process of drawing animals is for me universal.
I always start with big organic shapes combined with gesture lines. This step is important because you lay the foundation 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
This step is for the most part imaginary, I try to imagine for myself the big shapes.
Because these big shapes will often “muddy” down your drawing, therefore I try to avoid them to put them on paper.
When the drawing is ‘muddy’ed down it will lose it’s gesture, life or force. Therefore it becomes stiff and unpleasent to look at, you don’t want this because you wantthe animal to jump from the 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
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, body 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.
For example when you draw a bear with fur, you only want the suggestion of hair or fur.
I work my way down and try to follow the anatomy of the beast.
Try to draw ‘Over’ and ‘Around’ the imaginary shapes of step 2.
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.
Step 4 | Shoulders and 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.
Remember: When you put the lines of the shoulder and the body try to draw ‘around’ and ‘over’ the imaginary shapes and lines of step 1 and 2.
Step 5 | Legs and Detailing
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 bear.
And if you have already created a good looking bear, the next step is to indicate the details. Try to stop in time and don’t include too many details in your drawing.
Sometimes drawing less lines tells you more about your subject.
When the ground work is layed down, you can finalize your line drawing by adding the details.
Step 7 | Tone, Shade and Color
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 even went a step further and gave the bear some color. The coloring job is not my greatest but for this example it will suffice.
I am certain your bear art will be eventually better than my drawing from this example.
If you have followed the steps above, there is now a bear 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 bears you can take pictures of bears in a zoo near you 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!