how to draw a realistic kangaroo

How to Draw a Realistic Kangaroo

Step 1.

Begin with an irregularly shaped oval to form the base of the main body, making sure to get the nice curve of the back. Draw a sort of soda-can shape to form the head at the top left corner of this oval. At the opposite end, draw a long line that snakes from the kangaroo’s body down to the ground and then extends back beyond the kangaroo to form the top of the tail.

Step 2.

The kangaroo’s belly is kind of bean shaped and concave. The pouch is at the bottom of the kangaroo’s belly/abdomen and is a round mass between the legs. The kangaroo’s legs are massive and unique – the hips are high up on the abdomen and the leg extends all the way to the ground without any knee joint. The feet are then about the same length as the leg and lie flat on the ground. It’s important to make the feet point outwards in slightly different directions (i.e. don’t make the feet parallel). If you've ever seen a kangaroo try to move around slowly, they look very awkward and they actually use their tail as a sort of third-leg to prop themselves up (you can see in the drawing just how thick their tails are).

Step 3.

Erase some of the guidelines around the head to make room for the snout and the ears. The ears are spade-shapes on the two corners on the top of the head. In my drawing, I have arranged the two ears at different angles to break up the symmetry of the face a little. When drawing the snout, make the middle of the nose lie roughly in line with the top of the kangaroo’s back. The nose itself should also be slightly off-center to the left of the face as the head is at a slight angle in this drawing. In this step you should also add the arms. The upper-arms are short and thick whilst the lower arms are long and thin. Kangaroos also don’t have very large hands, but they have long fingers with big claws.

Step 4.

The eyes should be in line with the indicated elements (see inset) of their corresponding ear (e.g. right eye should align with the base of the right ear) and they should be approximately halfway between the nose and the ears in the vertical plane. The eyes themselves have a detailed structure, but in the final drawing they will be shaded in very dark so you can take a few liberties here with the accuracy. The main thing to get right is the outer shape of the eyes.

Step 5.

With the basic outline complete, we can start to draw the base layer of shading. The kangaroo will be covered entirely with a fur texture. To make this texture a lot easier to draw, I like to do a base layer of shading to get the tones of the fur done before I draw the more intricate hair details. If you have looked at my Koala tutorial, you should be familiar with this technique. There are two steps to shading this base layer – (1) roughly shade the area, (2) smooth it out with cotton pads/tissues. Here I have completed the first step for the upper body. You can see that some areas are darker and some are lighter to make the fur a bit patchy. There is also a rough ‘m’ shape created by the shading across the chest. The kangaroo has some intricate fur arrangements in this area, but you don’t really need to worry too much about that at this stage. Later on in the drawing we will develop this area more.

Step 6.

Smooth out the shading with a cotton pad/tissue until it is smooth. You can sort of see how highlights and shadows of the tones in the shading are placed around the structures drawn in the outlines. In this step I have also started to apply step 5 to the rest of the main body.

Step 7.

Smooth out the shading on the rest of the body as you did for the upper body in step 6. Now we start the details of the face. Because the face is quite small, we don’t really need to do a large base layer of shading (and doing so would make it more difficult for you to see the details that you need to add).

Step 8.

Here is a more in-depth guide to the steps of drawing the face and head. _(1)_First, add the streaks of darker fur that cover the kangaroo’s face – it looks pretty weird without any other facial features drawn yet, but that makes it easier to see the detail that you should be adding. _(2)_ Now start to shade the patches of fur between the darker streaks. Because the hairs on the kangaroo’s face are really short, we don’t need to add very much hair texture, so make the shading a little neater than you normally would. _(3)_ Smooth out the shading from the previous stage. You may also need to use your eraser to lighten some sections of shading on the left side of the face (the kangaroo’s right side). _(4)_ The top of the head requires a proper fur texture with individually drawn hairs. The technique for drawing this texture is explained in the step below. Once you have that technique down pat, you need to consider the pattern of darker and lighter fur on the head. You can see that there is a patch of darker hair above the kangaroo’s left eye, and that there are streaks of lighter and darker hair above the right eye. Between the two ears there is also a streak of very dark hair. These are important details to capture.

Step 9.

This is the technique for drawing the fur that covers the majority of the kangaroo, so it is important to get it right. Step (1) and (2) involve creating a smooth layer of shading, something you should have already done in the previous steps. Step (3) shows the basic step in drawing the fur texture. You essentially want to draw the hairs in jagged rows – don’t make the rows straight or else the hair won’t look naturally dispersed. To draw the actual hairs, just make small, sharp lines at slightly different angles. Steps (4) and (5) show the progression of the fur as more rows of hairs are added. Step (6) isn't always necessary, but shows how the fur looks after adding some darker hairs with a 4B pencil. Do this in areas with darker fur, such as in certain areas on the top of the head.

Step 10.

Now we start to draw the fur covering the rest of the body. The fur under the chin and around the neck of the kangaroo is quite dark, so use a 2-4B pencil to draw it. Use the same fur drawing technique as above to do so. Also start to draw the ears. You need to leave patches of paper on the inside of the ear blank and shade the rest. The border of the ear should be strongly defined with a 2-4B pencil, and the shading of the ear should be darker towards the middle

Step 11.

Remember that strange ‘m’ shape in the shading of the chest from earlier? Well, now we are going to use it to create highlights in the chest fur. Continue to draw the fur texture using the technique from step [9], but don’t draw any hair growing out of the ‘m’ shaped highlight (but do draw some hair overlapping the border).

Step 12.

Draw the hair on the belly. This requires a slightly different technique than the other fur because it is more ordered and neat. The technique is described in the next step below. Note how the fur is darker around the leg, towards the lower half of the abdomen.

Step 13.

There are six steps involved in drawing the belly fur. Step (1) involves creating the base layer of shading which you should have already completed. Step (2) isn't really a step – it shows the pencil movements you should be making to draw the hair. Note how the arrows are slightly different sizes, but more importantly that when you draw the actual hairs they should be very close together, not far apart like the arrows. Step (3) shows the beginning of the texture. Some of the lines are darker than the others - some are long, some are short, etc. Step (4) shows the second layer of lines. Step (5) shows how the texture changes when you start to add more dark lines. Step (6) is again only necessary when you are drawing the darker areas of the abdomen and is achieved by adding a bit of dark shading with a 2-4B pencil.

Step 14.

Using a similar technique to the one described above, draw a texture of long lines that wrap around the kangaroo’s back and down the kangaroo’s leg. These can be quite roughly drawn like I have done as you are going to smooth them out in the next step. It’s important to get the direction of the lines right as it is what gives the kangaroo its shape.

Step 15.

Two things have happened in from the previous step. First, smooth out the line texture across the back and leg with cotton pads/tissues. You can see that you want to make it pretty smooth. Then add shading to the back to make it darker. You want some of the lines to be peaking through the shading, but if you can’t see them anymore then make some new ones with a darker pencil and repeat the process.

Step 16.

Now we return to the more generic fur drawing technique you used to draw the fur on the chest and top of the head. Use this technique to draw the hair on the upper leg and bottom of the back. There is a patch of very dark fur in the middle of the back/upper leg/hip region which requires a 4B pencil. You get the darkness by drawing dark hairs rather than drawing dark shading over the area. Directly below this is a patch of lighter fur that will only have a light fur texture drawn over it at a later stage. Finally, note how there are patches of highlights across the kangaroo’s upper back. You can create these by lightly dragging an eraser in short strokes and then lightly drawing hairs in the patches.

Step 17.

Continue to draw fur down the kangaroo’s left leg. There’s a patch of light texture between the upper leg and the middle of the leg (in line with the kangaroo’s wrists) which you should try to reproduce in your drawing. All these variations in fur texture across the body are vitally important to drawing a realistic looking kangaroo. If your drawing is looking a little too bland and 2-dimensional, maybe you should try adding some highlights and dark tones to the fur. Don’t worry too much if yours looks a little different to mine either, so long as it looks good then it’s not a problem.

Step 18.

Quite a lot has to be done in the step. First, continue to draw the fur down both the left and right legs. Now you can see quite an important anatomical feature of the kangaroo – they have enormous tendons down the backs of their legs (this is what they use to jump so effectively). Make sure you leave a thin gap in the fur texture down both legs to capture this. Next, draw the fur along the base of the tail. Because the tail bends from almost vertical to horizontal, make sure the direction of the hairs in the fur texture changes accordingly. Also make sure you make some patches of hair darker and some lighter to give that variance in fur texture that we discussed earlier. Finally, add fur to the lower half of the abdomen between the two legs. Note that there are two long streaks of highlights in the abdomen just to the right of the kangaroo’s left hand.

Step 19.

Finish the fur on the abdomen. The hair right at the bottom should be quite dark and messy (make the hairs quite curly/wavy). Now we can add the dark fur on the feet and the tip of the tail. The first thing you should notice is the size of the kangaroo’s big toes – they are enormous! Make these large toes very dark. Also add darker textures around the base of the feet. Also make the final 1/3 of the tail black.

Step 20.

We are now on the home stretch. The arms and hands have a very rough texture. You can quite easily achieve this by shading the area and then not smoothing the shading out. Don’t forget to add the fur texture around the elbows and the first half of the forearms. In this step I have also drawn the kangaroo’s eyes and nose. The eyes are pretty easy to draw – just shade them in with a 4-6B pencil. With the nose, draw the shape seen here with a 4-6B pencil.

Step 21.

We just have to add the finishing touches to the hands and the nose. Let’s first finish the nose. Just shade the white patches as shown, but leave a small streak above the kangaroo’s right nostril blank to serve as a highlight. Now finish the hands. Shade the fingers and claws completely black with a 4-6B pencil, and then finish off the rough texture that covers the back of the hands and forearms. You can use a similar technique to drawing the fur on the kangaroo’s back – draw a bunch of lines with a dark pencil. Make it look rough! That concludes this tutorial on drawing a realistic kangaroo. I hope you found it enjoyable, and if you did then I suggest you check out my tutorial “How to draw a realistic koala”.

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Uploaded: August 22, 2013
Artist: JTM93
Difficulty: Advanced  Advanced Skill Level
Steps: 21
Updated: August 22, 2013
P.O.V: Front
Favourited: 3 times
Artist comments

Welcome to this tutorial on drawing a realistic kangaroo. Kangaroos are marsupials native to Australia. There are two main types of kangaroo - the larger red kangaroo and the smaller grey kangaroo. This tutorial explains how to draw the latter. I have classified it as 'Advanced' difficulty, but once you master the fur drawing technique, it is pretty straightforward. You will need HB-4B pencils, an eraser, cotton pads/tissues/q-tips and a sharpener. You may also want to grab a ruler to help with drawing the outline.