In this giraffe drawing tutorial, I will share the techniques I use to paint giraffes with hard and soft pastels.
Giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth and can run as fast as 35 miles an hour over short distances. The long neck of this beautiful majestic animal can make it challenging to find the best reference for your composition. This original pastel pencil drawing of a giraffe is a closeup of the mother’s head behind her baby.
If you enjoy drawing wildlife, you will enjoy drawing giraffes.
Pastel Painting Supplies
Supplies used for this elephant drawing:
- Clairefontaine Pastelmat Card
- Rembrandt Soft Pastels
- Faber-Castell Pitt Pastel Pencils
- Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils
- Derwent Pastel Pencils
Reference image courtesy of Wildlife Reference Photos For Artists.
I use Clairefontaine Pastelmat Card for all of my pastel paintings. Clairefontaine Pastelmat is acid-free paper with thin cellulose fibers fixed on it, making it possible to add multiple layers of pastels without a fixative. The rough paper allows you to layer and blend pastels easily. You can use a fixative between layers if you want to add even more layers.
There are many brands of pastels to choose from, but my favorites are listed above.
Before you draw, you need a high-quality image of a giraffe. I am using a photo I purchased from Wildlife Reference Photos For Artists. Wildlife Reference Photos is a great site to buy reference photos of wildlife. Once you make a purchase, you have the right to use the reference for your artwork, and you can sell the original and prints of your original artwork.
If you are not planning on selling your art, you can get some great reference images at Pixabay. Pixabay has thousands of royalty-free stock images to choose from. Make sure you read the royalty-free licenses before selling any artwork unless you own the image or purchase the rights from sites like Wildlife Reference Photos.
How To Create A Colorful Giraffe Drawing With Pastels
This tutorial shows you how to paint realistic animals with pastels. I will show you the steps I use to create my wildlife animals. I will not be telling you exactly what colors I will use because I use up to 60 – 70 colors for each painting. Instead, I will explain the steps I use for the project.
After you have sketched the giraffe on the Pastelmat with a pencil or pastel pencil, start adding the background colors. Most of this drawing will be done with pastel pencils, but I am using PanPastels for the background because you can cover larger areas quickly.
The background of this drawing will be blurred, so only concentrate on adding in the primary colors you see. You will work more on the background when you finish drawing the giraffes.
Working on the background first will allow you to draw the contour of the giraffe over the background colors more easily.
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I chose various midtone colors for the giraffe and mapped out the midtones with pastel pencils. The midtone colors are the colors that are not the lightest or darkest. You will be adding those colors later.
Next, draw in the light areas and darken the spots using a darker brown pastel pencil. Start adjusting the background colors so you can see the colors of the giraffe more. At this point, the giraffe should look three-dimensional.
Draw the calf using the same steps as the mother giraffe. Add the midtones, then work from light to dark. Add in the details when you finish drawing the midtones using darker and lighter values.
Work on the finishing touches. Blend the background’s values and continue adding layers to the giraffe’s fur.