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Drawing the Animal Kingdom for Beginners

$270 Limited inc GST / $¤,243
Drawing the Animal Kingdom for Beginners

Since the dawn of humanity, animals have played a leading role in human creative expression. Whether it is the significance of the depiction of a herd of bison in prehistoric Cave art, or an

Since the dawn of humanity, animals have played a leading role in human creative expression. Whether it is the significance of the depiction of a herd of bison in prehistoric Cave art, or an Australian sulphur crested cockatoo conspicuously turning up in a late-fifteenth century Italian altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna; animals have allowed craftsman to depict a human empathy for nonhuman life, whilst being pivotal agents for conveying metaphors of universal meaning within our world. Over seven weeks, learn how to draw a variety of animals, from man’s best friend, to carp swimming in Darling Harbour’s Chinese Gardens. Suitable for both beginners and those with some drawing experience.

Tutor’s work


  • An Equestrian horse in Milan with Leonardo da Vinci – We look at the basic masses of the horse and how Leonardo employs contour to convey the musculature of the animal. Leonardo’s studies of horses were related to a giant equestrian statue that was to be cast in bronze but never completed. The equestrian work will serve as a context for a basic comparative analysis in class between human artistic anatomy and that of the horse.
  • Well fed Grazing Flemish Cows by Peter Paul Rubens – In this class we will begin to look at how the form and volume of an animal can be conveyed and rendered in pencil. We will then attempt to interpretively transpose these techniques learnt from prints and drawings onto photographic images of cows.
  • An introduction to drawing hair, fur, feathers and scales – One major challenge in drawing animals is the depiction of fur; how to convey form and volume, while at the same time suggesting texture. These challenges are interchangeable with the depiction of human hair. This class will focus on drawing human hair over a basic egg shaped conceptual mannequin of the human head. As well as making drawn copies of rendered hair, students will take short turns at posing for the rest of the class who will practice ways of interpreting hair in relation to the ovoid form of the skull.
  • A greyhound interrupted on the hunt by Albrecht Durer – Following on from the previous week, we will look at Durer’s very clearly rendered depiction of a greyhound’s overall form and fur. Students should bring in images of either their own dog, or a photo of a dog, to transpose the techniques of rendering form and texture from Durer’s greyhound onto a rendition of the animal.
  • A playful cat by Thomas Gainsborough – We will observe how Gainsborough applied a use of black and white chalk on yellow-brown buff paper to the depiction of his cat. Students should bring in images of either their own cat, or a photo of a cat, to transpose the technique of using a mid tone paper to suggest the mid-values of the animal and oil based chalk pencils to convey a sense of its colour.
  • Sketching carp in the Chinese Gardens – We will make a field trip to Darling Harbour’s Chinese Gardens to draw carp. Entry will be $6 adults, $3 concession (not included in course fee). Students will be shown how to convey the carp’s form in quick sketches. The aim of this class will be to address the ephemeral reality of movement when drawing a living animal, human or otherwise. The joint role and relationship of observation to artistic invention will be further addressed in this context.
  • A finished carp drawing – Employing the numerous studies of carp made at the Chinese gardens, students will make use of the same buff paper with the addition of red chalk to black and white, in order to suggest the form, texture and colour of the fish in a fully rendered drawing.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have acquired a basic interrelated knowledge of the artistic anatomy of humans and other animals.
  2. Conceive and demonstrate the overall masses of any animal.
  3. Depict the texture of hair, fur, scales and feathers while addressing the animal’s form and volume.
  4. Synthesise empirical observation with artistic invention in relation to both transposing techniques from Old Master drawings onto photographic images of animals and in addressing the reality of drawing a moving animal.


  • 2H and H pencil
  • Oil based hard sanguine red, black and white chalk pencils.
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Stanley knife for sharpening pencils.
  • A3 sketch book
  • Two metal paper clips for support
  • 2 sheets of yellow-brown buff paper

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • The Art Scene, West Ryde, Ph: 9807 6900 (incl. online shop)
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.