3 Important Techniques for Drawing Realistic Animals (and free resources that will help you master them) | Top Tips

Feb 03, 2023
3 Important Techniques for Drawing Realistic Animals in Coloured Pencil - Bonny Snowdon Academy
Drawing animals in coloured pencils is something that has brought so much joy to my life over the past few years, and it’s been an incredible journey as I learnt new skills and discovered the techniques I need to create truly life-like animal portraits. I am now lucky, having been on this journey, to be able to share some of that knowledge with other artists and make their path to growth and development a little easier. That’s why I wanted to share a list of techniques that I think are fundamental when it comes to drawing realistic animals in coloured pencil. With this list, you’ll be able to focus on the areas where you need to improve, take what I’ve learnt over the years and put it into practice in your own artwork. 
Read on to find out which techniques are vital for creating realistic artwork and to find the free resources that will help you master them…



In a perfect world, there would be a coloured pencil to match every possible subject and, as lovely as that sounds, we’re not quite there yet! Layering is all about how you mix your colours. Because we can’t simply pick a pencil that matches the fur, eyes, nose, for example, of our subject, it’s up to us to mix that colour on the paper. 

This is where layering comes in handy. By adding colours in over the top of one another, you’re building texture, depth and creating realism, while working towards getting the closest possible representation of your subject. I’m not just talking about one or two layers, it’s going to take lots and lots of layers to get that really life-like finish, so perseverance is key! 

To learn how to layer your coloured pencils, watch the video shown above.


The Subtraction Technique

Lots of people think that drawing is just about adding colour, and they’re often surprised to find out that that’s not the case! For a lot of coloured pencil artists, an eraser or subtraction tool is a vital piece of equipment. 

Once you’ve added your initial layers, coming in to remove some of the pigment is going to help create beautifully realistic fur and features. Using the subtraction technique is a simple way of adding details and texture, without having to draw every single hair and whisker. 

To find out how to use the subtraction technique, click on the video above to watch my short tutorial. It will introduce you to the tools you’ll need and take you through how you can use this technique in your own drawings.


The Indenting Technique

Now, this one is really useful when it comes to drawing things like fur and whiskers. Unlike the subtraction technique, you use the indenting technique before laying down any pencil on your paper. Again, it’s a really simple, easy-to-learn technique, and it’s a game changer. 

Think about it like drawing without the colour. You use a sharp object to indent the paper with the shape of the fur or whiskers you want to draw, and then go over these indentations with your layers of colour. The pencils automatically skip over the indented sections, leaving you with a crisp and clear texture.

There are a few tricks to getting this technique right and avoiding any damage to your paper, so give the video above a watch to find out how to start using an indenting tool in your drawings. 


With the help of these three techniques, you’ll be on the road to creating more realistic animal portraits in no time. If you’d like more help on your coloured pencil journey, click here to read my previous blog, which shows you five free resources that are perfect for beginners wanting to develop their skills. If you want help really taking your artwork to the next level, make sure you’ve signed up to the waitlist for my Ignite Membership by clicking here. I’m welcoming new members in April and, there, you’ll learn everything there is to know about drawing animals in coloured pencils. 


Ignite by Bonny Snowdon

...is the ultimate membership for those wanting to improve their Coloured Pencil Skills, increase their confidence and realise their dreams!


Sign up below to join the Ignite Waitlist

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.