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How to draw cartoon dogs

Dogs and puppies are immensely popular in comic strips and animation. The cartoonist who can draw convincing dogs has a leg up on the competition.

With the following tips, you can, too. So sharpen that pencil, get out some paper and let’s get started.

DRAWING THE HEAD

All dogs share the same basic head and body construction. By practicing these steps, you’ll soon be able to draw any dog. (Don’t trace. You’ll learn much more if you freehand.)

Let’s start with a dalmation.

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1. Begin with a circle. Drawing the guidelines on the circle will help you see it as a three-dimensional globe. The horizontal line hangs low on the globe — that’s where the eyes will go. The vertical line is the center line — it divides the face in half.

2. The head has three components: the skull, the cheeks and the jaw.

3. Place the eyes on the horizontal “eye line.”

4. The bridge of the nose begins high on the face — between the dog’s eyes — and thrusts forward. Notice how it gets larger as it comes toward you.

5. Now add a smiling mouth, which pushes up into the cheeks and causes creases. The jaw, off to one side, creates a lively smile.

6. Big, floppy ears and a thick neck bring this guy to life. A few small teeth on the lower jaw add a professional touch.

7. Add spots, and erase your guide lines for a clean finished drawing.

THE EARS

Floppy ears add charm and personality to a dog. Most dog ears fold over, with the exception of short, triangular ears — the kind found on terriers, chow chows, German shepherds and a few other breeds. The most important thing to remember about drawing the folded ear is that the line from the base of the ear should point to the outermost corner of the fold.

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Right: The base of the ear points to the outermost corner of the fold. (The dashes are not part of your drawing.)

Wrong: The base of the ear doesn’t connect to anything; it just shoots out into space.

DRAWING THE BODY-SIDE VIEW

There are three main parts to a dog’s body: the head, the rib cage and the hindquarters. Everything connects to those three areas. Notice how the back crests at the base of the neck. The large rib cage gives the dog a powerful chest. The hindquarters rise, although slightly less than the shoulders, and then slope down sharply toward the tail. The tail is an extension of the spine and must flow seamlessly from the spinal cord.

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CLASSIC TERRIER

The tiny terrier’s neck is surprisingly thick and muscular. The compact body shows very little in the way of a waistline, and the short legs allow the body to hover just above the ground. Note the distinctive triangular ears. He’s also got bushy eyebrows, a bushy mouth, bushy forelegs and hind legs, and small paws.

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COLLIE

This breed has a slender, almost pointed face and an appealing two-toned coat of fur. It always maintains an alert expression and gives the impression of being a large dog. However, under that huge layer of hair is a rather trim animal with an unimpressive build. The small paws are the giveaway.

But, because our view of the collie as a full-bodied dog is so ingrained in us, it’s better to start with an overall large shape than to draw a thin body and fill it out with hair. The collie is always well-groomed, so don’t let the hair appear ragged.

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SAINT BERNARD

The Saint Bernard is instantly recognizable for its long, flapping jowls. It’s not a graceful dog; in fact, its movements are kind of, well, sloppy. It should always appear to be well fed, and it has a sort of dopey personality. Give your Saint Bernard a big nose. The ears are actually shorter than shown here, but cartoons typically depict this dog with long ears.

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CREATING EXPRESSIONS

Most people only think to use the mouth and the eyebrows to create facial expressions, but there’s more to it than that. The shape of the eyes changes, depending on whether the eyebrows crush down on the eyes or lift them up.

Most importantly, though, is the length of the upper lip, which changes according to the expression. Notice how short the upper lip is in the happy expressions here and how long it becomes in surprised or unhappy expressions. The mouth can be “tugged” to one side, which provides an extra accent.

You can add teeth or forget about them, depending on the emotion being expressed, and you can even change the shape of the teeth. Spiked teeth work well in angry expressions but not on worried ones — they look too aggressive.

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LINE OF ACTION

When I look at the sketchbooks of aspiring cartoonists and artists, most illustrations don’t convey a sense of thrust. The artists have worked hard on the eyes, the head, the muscles and so on, but there is no flow to the drawings. They have no direction. The characters are just jumbles of parts, which makes them look stiff. It’s certainly important to master drawing those individual parts. No doubt about it. But the parts need an overall framework in which to exist. That’s where the line of action — shown in red — comes into play.

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LEARN MORE

For more information about drawing dogs and other animals, visit Christopher Hart’s website at www.kidsdraw.com

123 Comments on How to draw cartoon dogs

  1. This is so cool I love dogs and cartoons so drawing them mixed together is awesome. Have you ever tried other animals ? You’re drawings are PAWSOME!

  2. I love the dogs you made they are very PAWSOME!!!!!

  3. dogs and drawing are my fav things

  4. i like dogs

  5. cool123456789 // February 6, 2010 at 10:45 am // Reply

    i like the drawings you put up!!! I think you you should have chihuahuas.

  6. this is so cool

  7. animal lover // January 25, 2010 at 8:09 pm // Reply

    What about Basset Hounds? Thanks you helped me draw cool dogs.

  8. they’re way cool

  9. rabid rabbit/bear // January 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm // Reply

    good.. but I could already do better, but it’s a cool style!!!

  10. reversed racoon // January 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm // Reply

    The drawings are hilarious! :’)

  11. I love to draw, and the dogs are helping draw too.They are awsome and harder to draw than they look

  12. thanks for having this website i love cartoons and i’ve been wanting to learn to draw dogs for along time. :)

  13. these dogs are cool

  14. realy cool

  15. awesome!

  16. drawing dogs are hard

  17. that is so cool!

  18. not all terriers have pointy ears

  19. i drew most of them, it was awesome and eisier than it looked

  20. dogs rock!

  21. I cant wait to use this!

  22. those are good drawing i might draw one.

  23. I can draw kinda’ good dogs.

  24. I love dogs especially corgis!

  25. how do i draw a labador

  26. yeah i’m with squirt there the smartestd dog in the world.

  27. I loved it.

  28. It’s helped me inprove sooo much! Thanks for the awesome drawings! Dogs rule!

  29. i finnaly drew the collie

  30. polpolpolpol // October 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm // Reply

    those were funny pickchers

    • well,you actually SHOULD ( YA DONT HAVE TO, BUT IT WOULD MAKE PEOPLE ALOT HAPPIER) make more dogs like… a golden retriever… or a toy poodle! p.s my gender is MALE (of course!)

  31. i like all of them

  32. these drawings are so awsome!!!!

  33. PAWSOME!
    Thank you for the fun tips.I can really use these in my sketchpad.

  34. you should make these drawings easer for teens to draw

  35. awesome tips, enabled me to add a new dimension to my artwork and help my daughter who is 3 draw better. THANX

  36. Awesome! I love to draw dogs!

  37. i love dogs so i kinda’ need to know how and well, here it is right in front of me! :)

  38. i really do not know sorry :(

  39. hard but fun

  40. Just what I was looking for! I needed to draw a dog mascot for a Peruvian Scout group (where I’ve been a Scoutmaster). Got the basics and it’s very helpful… Thanks!

  41. nocal trainer // August 22, 2009 at 10:55 am // Reply

    I was looking for a dog to advertise my classes, I found it. Thanks

  42. really nice info here
    learned a lot! Keep it up!
    by the way-put on english setters!!!

  43. what’s against labs?

  44. This is awsome,ive learned alot since I went to this website.I love it,I just do.

  45. Hey, What about a German Shepherd! I love those thing’s! There one of the world’s smartest dog in the world.

  46. What about Chihuahuas?

  47. Cool I’m going to get a piece of paper now!!

  48. very useful for novice AND expert drawers. good tips:)

  49. ASWOME

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