how to sketch a lion head, male lion

How to Sketch a Lion Head, Male Lion

Step 1.

Make a mask-shaped oval to form the base of the face. Next, add a tear drop slightly off center of the first oval shape. This tear drop shape will form the upper jaw and nose structures. As the lion is not facing directly towards the drawing's point of view, draw the tear drop shape off center towards the left of the paper. Make sure these lines are drawn lightly as they will be erased at a later stage and you don't want to damage the paper.

Step 2.

Add two curved lines to the bottom half of the teardrop shape to form the upper jaw/nose structures. The two curves should meet along the line from the first shape drawn in step 1.

Step 3.

Draw a curve across the jaw area to form the bottom lip. The corners of the lion's mouth sag significantly which is why the bottom lip is shaped this way. The chin of the lion should now somewhat resemble a golf club shape. Also draw the upper border of the nose – there are two curves here which will correspond with the nostrils in a later step. Also note how the corner of the nose is slightly hooked.

Step 4.

Draw the lion's left eye (on the right of the drawing) on the remaining portion of the teardrop shape outline such that the line goes through the middle of the eye. The eye itself is just a circle with the top slightly flattened by the eye lid. The lion's right eye (on the left of the paper) is drawn coming off the nose/muzzle and is partially obscured. Add the lion's ear to the right of the face with the base of the ear being roughly in line with the eyes. As this ear will be mostly obscured by hair, don't worry too much about the shape (a general spade shape will do). Then you can add the general outlines of the lion's mane. It should be equally distributed around the face, but as the lion is not facing directly towards the POV, more of the mane will be visible on the right of the drawing. We are just doing a general outline here to help us at a later stage – make the outline rounder on top and come to a point at the bottom.

Step 5.

Erase the remaining guidelines on the face so that only the main outlines remain. Then add outlines of the lower teeth. Note how high above the bottom lip these lower teeth sit – that's because of the sagging of the lips and cheeks that I mentioned earlier. There are two enormous canine teeth and then a bunch of very small incisors between them.

Step 6.

With the outline complete, we can start to shade the face. Firstly, I have included a diagram showing the steps involved in shading smoothly. You start by roughly shading a patch of the drawing. Then, smooth this out with cotton pads - use small circular motions to get a more even finish. Then repeat these two steps until you get nice, even tones. As for the actual drawing, there are three steps displayed in this image: [Step 1] Add a layer of rough shading across the main facial features. Leave the front of the muzzle, chin and patches around the eyes blank as these areas should have very light tones. Note that there are patches around the side of the muzzle that are slightly darker than the rest to give some variation in the tones of the lion's face. [Step 2] Smooth out the rough shading using the previously mentioned technique. [Step 3]Lions have black skin surrounding their eyes as shown, but also note the white patches below these rings. Also begin to shade the mouth and the nose. The nostrils will end up being slightly darker than the rest of the nose, so keep that in mind in later steps.

Step 7.

From this point on, we are mainly focusing on the mane. This is the most difficult aspect of the drawing as it involves multiple different techniques and requires a lot of patience. We will start with the mane at the top of the lion's head. In this image you can see the different stages of this process, and in the following steps I explain how it's done.

Step 8.

There are two important things to avoid when drawing animal fur. Firstly, do not draw long, straight hairs anyway in the fur (unless it is appropriate) as this makes it look unnatural. Instead, try to make every hair at least slightly curved. Shorter hairs will naturally appear straight, even if they are curved, so don't worry about them. Secondly, try to vary the length and the alignment of the hair lines. You don't want to have hairs all of the similar length and in perfect alignment as it looks very unnatural.

Step 9.

Back to the drawing, there are three main steps I followed when doing the hair at the top of the mane. [Step 1] Begin by drawing a bunch of hairs in three different directions (as indicated by the arrow diagram below the first image). Make the lines soft to start with - this first step really is just about setting a base layer of texture for the next step. Leave some areas such as the middle of the central section lighter than the rest to form highlights later on. [Step 2] Add more lines to generate more volume/hair density. Then use a sharpened 2B pencil to add some small, more defined lines to various regions of the fur. The combination of these sharper lines drawn over the faint lines in the base layer gives the appearance of thick, coarse hair. [Step 3] Now draw some darker lines with a sharp 2-4B pencil. Again, don't make the lines too large and don't add too many of them – you want a fairly even distribution. Additionally, leave some patches of the fur alone to form some highlights and create some tone variation. Finally, the lion has a thin strip of dark fur that goes through this region of the mane. Use your 4B pencil to draw a bunch of dark hairs along this strip.

Step 10.

Now we move onto the regions of the mane on the left and right sides of the head. Drawing these regions requires a very similar technique to that of the top of the mane, but there are a few differences which I will describe in a couple of steps time. The detail around the ear will also be described in detail later on in the tutorial, so either ignore it for the moment or jump ahead. Just make sure you leave some space in that area!

Step 11.

Before I explain the process of drawing the fur in these two regions, just take note of how it is structured. The fur comprising the region of the mane around the side of the head sags downward. Also note how there are two ‘tiers’ of fur that comprise this part of the mane – there is the inner tier that surrounds the sides of the lion's face and the outer tier that sits behind the inner tier and extends further from the lion's head. There is a very dark third ‘tier’ of the mane below the head which we will add later.

Step 12.

Here is the technique for drawing the fur in these areas. [Step 1] Draw a bunch of soft lines to create the general structure of the fur. Note how in the actual drawing the fur in these areas has a wavy shape. [Step 2] Add more lines until you have a nice base layer of fur texture. [Step 3] Now use a sharp 2-4B pencil to add defined, darker lines. This fur is darker than the fur in the top of the mane, so add more dark hairs. [Step 4] In some areas of the mane, there is light fur overlapping very dark fur. Drawing the boundary between the two is pretty simple. Draw a sawtooth pattern along the edge of the light fur with a dark 4B pencil. This creates pointed tips for the light fur. [Step 5] To make the transition more natural, make the boundary wavy and irregular.

Step 13.

Now we move on to the fur under the lion's chin and under the ear. Again, I will show you the technique to draw this fur in a few steps time, but first I'll show the stages of the drawing.

Step 14.

The region of the mane under the ear is the largest and most detailed region in the drawing given its position relative to the point of view. As such, I tried to draw a bit more definition in the hair texture. This involved making strands and clumps of hair more visible. The hair under the chin is similar, but is darker and wilder. Make sure you leave space immediately below the chin area BLANK as I have done when you are drawing the fur here – this will be important later. Both processes are explained below.

Step 15.

This is the process to draw the part of the mane below the ear. [Step 1] Begin with a general outline of some thick hair strands and some hair texture, similar to the other fur techniques described previously. [Step 2] Add more lines and some shading to make the fur denser. [Step 3] Add dark lines to outline some hair strands and create depth. The red lined diagram indicates the sort of shape these lines should be. [Step 4] If the fur becomes too dark, you can add some lighter areas and highlights. Start by erasing small strips of the fur. [Step 5] Now redraw some of the texture around the edges of the erased area to blend the highlight into the fur texture. Additionally, use the same technique from step 12 to draw the boundary between this region of the mane and the darker hair below.

Step 16.

The fur under the chin is very similar, but is curlier and darker. Follow essentially the same process as described in the previous step, but make the hair strands curlier and give them darker and more defined borders. The tips of these hair strands should also be longer and thinner.

Step 17.

Now that we have done most of the mane, we can move onto the face. The chin of the lion has white, fine fur. The part of the mane immediately below the chin will be completely black, so you can draw the hairs of the chin by actually drawing a dark comb/sawtooth pattern beneath the chin (again, very similar to the sawtooth technique in step 12). Make the hairs on the side of the chin sag downwards, and make the hairs on the bottom radiate outwards in different directions.

Step 18.

Now we start to draw the dark parts of the mane. The dark regions of the mane are found below the lighter areas that we have drawn so far. We have already drawn the boundary between these two regions in the previous steps. We now add a dark fur texture below this boundary strip. Additionally, add dark fur directly below the chin.

Step 19.

Drawing dark fur is pretty simple, but can be time consuming. [Step 1] Very roughly draw the base layer of hairs with a 2B pencil. [Step 2] With a 4B pencil, add more and more hairs to the texture. [Steps 3 and 4] Keep adding dark lines and some shading until you have a thick, dark texture with some visible hair detail.

Step 20.

In the previous steps, the ear and surrounding area has been developing without any comment from me. It’s now time for you to add this detail. [Step 1] This is the base structure of the ear. Note how the area to the left of it is blank – this is important as we are going to draw some light hairs in this area. [Step 2] Draw the outline of some long, wispy strands of hair to the left of the ear. Within the ear, draw hairs emanating from the upper boundary and stretching across the ear. [Step 3] This step shows the hair to the right of the ear which should have been drawn in a previous step. [Step 4] Add more hair detail to the area to the left of the ear by drawing short hairs curling around the edge of the face. [Step 5] The region of the mane beneath the ear should now have been added below/around the wispy hairs. [Step 6] Add some shading to the wispy hairs to make them blend with the surrounding area. Darken the inside of the ear and add defined hairs.

Step 21.

Here you can see how the dark fur at the bottom of the drawing has progressed. We can now start to add the face details. Drawing the eyes involves a simple bullet point for each pupil and then some shading for the irises. Also draw 2 rows of dots for the whisker pores on the cheeks, as well as some lines for hairs along the upper lips. Shade the regions of the mouth surrounding the gums and teeth black, and darken the shading of the nose (make the nostrils darker than the septum in the middle of the nose). Finally, finish adding the dark fur to the remaining areas of the mane.

Step 22.

The final step in the drawing is adding some whiskers to the cheek area. This isn't entirely necessary as the drawing looks good without them, but they do add an additional touch of realism. As the whiskers should be white, we will need to erase thin strips of the drawing to create them. To do so, we use a technique called masking. Get a small piece of scrap paper and cut it in a curved line in half, as indicated by the red line in the diagram. Then arrange the two pieces of paper on the drawing, but leave a slight gap between them over the area where you wish to draw the whisker. Then, whilst applying pressure in the areas indicated by the blue circles (as well as on the rest of the paper if possible), lightly erase the thin strip of the drawing exposed within the gap. This can be a bit tricky so practice first. You will probably erase a strip that is too wide for the whisker – that’s not a problem; just reshape the strip by shading/outlining it slightly.

Step 23.

And here is the finished product. You can see that I only added a few whiskers and they are very faint. I tried making them more defined, but I prefer this look. That concludes this tutorial, I hope you found it helpful and have a go at drawing a lion. If you have made it this far, then congratulations on drawing a very difficult picture.

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Uploaded: December 8, 2013
Artist: JTM93
Difficulty: Advanced  Advanced Skill Level
Steps: 23
Updated: December 9, 2013
P.O.V: Front
Favourited: 25 times
Artist comments

This tutorial explains how to draw a portrait of a male lion. Lions are one of the largest predators on the planet and the second-largest living cat next to the tiger. They are apex predators in Africa and are able to hunt every other species on the African plains (including elephants, although this is rare). This tutorial requires HB-4B pencils, cotton pads/tissues, an eraser and sharpener.