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Uploaded: August 11, 2013
Artist: JTM93
Difficulty: Advanced  Advanced Skill Level
Steps: 24
Updated: August 11, 2013
P.O.V: Side
Favourited: 6 times
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Welcome to this tutorial on how to draw a realistic koala. Koalas are marsupials found in Australia and are quite difficult to draw. In this tutorial I will show you step-by-step the simplest way to draw this animal as well as the techniques you will need. To complete this drawing you need: HB-4B pencils, an eraser and tissues/cotton pads/Q-tips.

how to draw a realistic koala

How to Draw a Realistic Koala

how to draw a realistic koala step 1


Begin by drawing two circles - a large circle to form the koala’s abdomen and a smaller circle (about half the diameter of the larger one) to form the head. These two circles should be separated as shown. Draw the outline of the arm arcing off the bottom of the top circle. The bottom of the arm should then arc down towards the bottom circle, as shown.
how to draw a realistic koala step 2


Lightly draw a line through the middle of the top circle to help set out the facial features. The line should be at a slant (around 30 degrees). In the middle of the lower half of the now bisected face, draw a squarish-oval shaped nose. This should be perpendicular to the line and slightly below it. Draw the two eyes on each side of the nose with the top of the eyes resting on the line. Both eyes are slightly pinched on their medial sides (the sides pointing towards the middle of the face). Now we turn our attention to the bottom circle - we need to draw the hind leg. This starts from the center of the large circle and arcs around in an egg shape within the circle, as shown. Finally, we need to start drawing the tree that the koala is clinging to.
how to draw a realistic koala step 3


Erase the guideline through the center of the head and segments of the circle guidelines as shown. Add ears, but make the outlines sketchy as the ears will mostly be defined by hair textures later on. Add a few of the details around the eyes, nose and chin. Also add two toes on the hind leg.
how to draw a realistic koala step 4


The drawing is all about the koala’s fur. Koalas have a very unusual fur coat that looks very wiry – the hairs do not matte together like other animals and it requires a slightly different technique. It took me a while to figure out the easiest way of achieving a reasonable look (I actually had to restart the drawing completely!), but I have figured it out. Start by shading a base layer as shown. These next few steps are all about getting the tones of the fur coat done – the subsequent steps will be about drawing the furry texture. Note the darker areas around the side of the face, the mid-torso region and around the top of the hind leg.
how to draw a realistic koala step 5


There are two steps here. First, finish shading the base layer of the bottom half of the koala – note that the abdomen region (the region within the large circle from the outline) is much lighter relative to the upper areas. Secondly, start to smooth out the shading with cotton pads/tissues and Q-tips (you can see that I have started to do this in the upper half of the drawing). This is similar to some of the steps in my shark tutorial.
how to draw a realistic koala step 6


Finish smoothing out the shading in the lower half of the drawing. Then start to draw the fur texture of the face. The hairs on the side of the face are not strongly defined so you don’t have to worry too much about technique – I just shaded in slightly jagged lines to get the effect. Draw darker hair around the edge of the cheeks whilst leaving a gap between the shoulder and left cheek (koala’s right cheek) to serve as highlights later on. Also leave the chin and two patches either side of the nose untouched.
how to draw a realistic koala step 7


Now we start to draw a slightly more defined hair texture across the face. To do this, you simply have to lightly draw thin, parallel lines in rows that curve across the face. The right cheek (koala’s left cheek) is pretty smoothly shaded and doesn't require a hairy texture (but leave it slightly rough – don’t smooth it out unless it really needs it).
how to draw a realistic koala step 8


In this step I have just added some slightly darker hairs to the top of the head. As you can see, the hair on the center and top of the face is starting to look a little rough so in the subsequent steps I will smooth it out.
how to draw a realistic koala step 9


When smoothing out hair texture, use cotton pads/tissues or Q-tips as you would with normal shading. The differences are that you want to go with the grain (in the same direction) of the hair and you want to do it very lightly. This is because we don’t want to completely smooth out the graphite – we want to retain some of the hair detail, but just take the roughness out. If you smooth the shading out at a perpendicular angle to the hair and with a lot of force, it removes the hair texture completely.
how to draw a realistic koala step 10

STEP 10.

The ears require the “traditional” fur drawing technique that most animal furs require. Draw long, wavy hairs with a dark pencil (2B-4B) in a row at the base of the ears and make the hairs slightly different lengths. The hairs towards to top of the ears should point upwards slightly and the hairs towards the bottom should drape downwards. In this step I have also shaded the upper body slightly darker by adding another layer of shading.
how to draw a realistic koala step 11

STEP 11.

The outer portions of the ears are a lot lighter and a much thinner hair texture is needed. Make banana-shaped curved hairs grow out of the first half of the ears. The trick is to not go overboard with these hairs – on the koala, the outer ear hair is mainly white so you may have to use an eraser if the pencil work becomes a little too thick. In this step I have also started to draw the body fur texture. This is an easy technique and doesn't actually take that long, although it may seem like it. See the next step for an explanation of the process.
how to draw a realistic koala step 12

STEP 12.

Drawing the fur is really simple – you just have to draw short, thin lines in the same direction. The trick is to not arrange them in straight lines. You want to arrange them in jagged rows so that they look well dispersed.
how to draw a realistic koala step 13

STEP 13.

The direction in which you draw the hairs on the koala's body is very important as it is the main way in which the shape of the koala is drawn. This diagram shows what direction the fur around the arrows should be pointing. Refer to it throughout the process.
how to draw a realistic koala step 14

STEP 14.

Continue to draw the hair texture around the body. Make sure you keep drawing the hairs in the direction outlines in Step [12]. Note how the hairs around the top of the hind leg are quite dark and how the hairs around the rear of the abdomen are quite light. Make sure you capture these tones in your drawing.
how to draw a realistic koala step 15

STEP 15.

Keep adding the hair texture. The tones should largely come through the base layer of shading you did at the start of the drawing, but you can darken/lighten the fur tone by make the hairs darker/lighter, or by make the hairs more or less densely packed (putting them closer or further apart).
how to draw a realistic koala step 16

STEP 16.

The fur around the bottom of the koala is much smoother and more orderly arranged than that of the rest of the drawing. There are three rows of roughly equal width that arc around the bottom. Note the thin bands of highlights at the bottom of each row (below the tips of the hairs that make up the rows) and the slightly darker, more defined hairs dispersed along the rows.
how to draw a realistic koala step 17

STEP 17.

Continue to draw the hair and fur details of the hind leg as shown.
how to draw a realistic koala step 18

STEP 18.

This is an important step in which we add some patches of dark hairs throughout the fur. These small patches add some depth the fur coat – up until now, only small hairs have been drawn and it sort of looks like the fur coat isn’t very thick. Koalas actually have pretty thick coats, so we do need to add this depth. The dark patches of hair are drawn in thin, jagged bands and are mostly located to the left of the hind leg and in the area below the chin. In this step I also drew the hair on the fingers and toes. Koalas have strange hands/feet which are covered in the same fur coat as the rest of the body, so use the same technique.
how to draw a realistic koala step 19

STEP 19.

Finally, we now draw the eyes and nose detail. Up until this point, the koala had looked kind of strange with these missing details. They are pretty straightforward to draw – the nose is basically a solid block of shading with a bit of a gradient on top, and the eyes are just an oval-shaped pupil with defined outlines and some shading in the lower half. Don’t forget to shade the chin as well.
how to draw a realistic koala step 20

STEP 20.

Now the koala is finished, but we have to draw some of the tree. You don’t want to draw the entire tree as the koala should be the focus of the drawing so I am just going to draw the section of the tree that the koala is hanging off. Start by making long, straight lines in the direction of the tree. Make some the lines closer together and some further apart to make some highlights.
how to draw a realistic koala step 21

STEP 21.

To draw the tree texture, start by drawing thin, long lines in the direction of the tree. Then add some outlines of 'blocky', angular chunks of bark and add some darker, thicker lines here and there. Finally, shade over the area, but leave thin segments of highlights along the edges of some bark chunks and in other areas.
how to draw a realistic koala step 22

STEP 22.

Here you can see that I have added some of the bark detail to the tree texture.
how to draw a realistic koala step 23

STEP 23.

Now I have shaded in the texture. You can see how it isn't uniformly shaded – that is intentional and keeps the texture looking rough and organic.
how to draw a realistic koala step 24

STEP 24.

This step is optional – in the previous step I felt that the tree looked a bit too light, so in this step I added some more shading to the tree texture to reduce most of the highlights. I personally prefer this look, but the look of the tree texture in the previous step is also nice. If you want to, you can extend the tree texture further to the right - in this drawing I have just made the tree texture fade out as I didn't want so much ‘tree’ in the picture. This concludes the tutorial – I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful.