Animal Tracing: A Fun Drawing Exercise

I thought of this drawing idea when I wrote the post about the Gillian Higgins, the equine anatomy expert who paints on horses.

In lieu of grabbing a wild animal and drawing all over it, I thought a printout might suffice. Tracing the animal shape gives you a good feel for the animal’s proportions, and then you can doodle or draw on your tracing to take it in any direction you wish.


The following animal images were all taken by me this morning.

No they weren’t. I used Unsplash to find them, and each photographer is credited under the animal photos. You can right or control-click to save any of these images to draw over, or go explore animals on Unsplash.

Keep an eye out for good overall animal shapes, and see how you can trace the shapes, scribble over the whole silhouette, break it down into geometric shapes, etc.

I am surprised by how much I use my light box, but you can certainly trace over your animal printouts by holding (or washi taping) them up to a window.

Emil Widlund, Balint Szajki

James Resley, Keith Markilie, Dmitrii Medvedev

Free Nature Stock

Free Nature Stock

You can see in the following drawings how I took the same image and traced it in different ways.

4 traced squirrel drawings
Owl and cat tracing doodles
horse and donkey tracing
Zentangle owl drawing

Here’s a post I wrote a few years ago defending tracing as an art practice for kids.

owl and cat tracings that are being used as drawing starters



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