Nothing captures the wilderness quite like a wolf howling at the moon. It’s an iconic image that is used in novels and films alike to communicate the embrace of nature. So, if you’ve already mastered how to draw a dog, why not venture into the forests and learn how to draw its majestic ancestor, the wolf?
Although they’re wild creatures, wolves have a lot in common with the lovable domestic companions we keep by our sides today. Some dog breeds, like huskies and malamutes, seem to share a lot of similarities, especially when they howl. Still, it’s important to approach each drawing subject with fresh observant eyes. If you feel primed to make some art, then follow along this tutorial to learn how to draw a wolf howling at the moon in just seven simple steps!
Learn How to Draw a Wolf Step by Step
It’s good practice to do a bit of research before beginning any drawing. In the case of a wolf howling at the moon, try and collect a few images from different angles to better understand the shape of the wolf’s open mouth. Be very selective and find high-quality photos with no obstructions of the wolf’s head, legs, and especially paws (as these are often hidden by grass). For this reason, it’s smart to collect a couple of images, as it’s hard to find one perfect photo that will show you everything that you need.
As you start drawing, keep in mind that there are different species of wolves whose coats will vary in appearance depending on the time of the year the photo was taken. Due to this, always look to your own reference photo first, as it may differ from that example shown.
Step 1: Lightly sketch the basic shapes
First, using your pencil of choice, lightly sketch the basic shapes of the head, chest, and hindquarters. At this stage, we are just measuring out the proportions, so consult your reference photo often to see if it roughly matches up to your wolf of choice. After drawing the circle for the head, you can add a rectangular shape protruding from the side—this will be the open mouth.
Step 2: Connect the body
Once you feel satisfied with the basic shapes, you can begin connecting them to create the body of the wolf. If your model has a thick winter coat, keep the neck rounded as it connects to the chest. Next, add a triangle-shaped ear where the head meets the back, keeping in mind that wolves have fairly large ears. Before moving on, carefully place a thick line where the bridge of the nose meets the wolf’s head, indicating a closed eye.
Step 3: Add the legs and paws
Now, with the body in place, we can turn our attention to drawing the legs. Compared to dogs, wolves have very long legs, so keep that in mind as you sketch. You can start with straight geometric shapes for the forelimbs, and rounded shapes for the hindlegs. Then at the end, place large ovals for the paws. Remember to include a fluffy long tail at the end of the wolf’s body.
If you feel satisfied with the proportions of the legs, you can go ahead and add more anatomical detail as well as carve out the toes of the wolf’s paws from the ovals.
Step 4: Draw the mouth
Next, we can turn our attention back to the head and body of the wolf. Since our wolf is howling, you’ll want to “cut out” a triangle from the wide rectangle we drew before. Consult your reference photo and pay attention to the gentle curve of the wolf’s mouth as it howls—typically, only one or two teeth are visible. Then, at the tip of the snout, sketch out the shape of the nose.
It can be tricky to find the right balance in the wolf’s open mouth, so take special care at this stage. Once you’re done, however, look over the rest of your sketch to see if matches up. If you’re happy with how it looks, go ahead and sketch a few details of fur where the coat is thickest.
Step 5: Erase the guidelines
At last, when you’re content with the final sketch, you can start erasing any unnecessary guidelines. If something is still bothering you at this stage, set the drawing aside for a bit and come back to it. Once you have a bit of distance, go ahead and make any adjustments that you think are needed.
Step 6: Add the moon
Finally, it’s time to give your wolf a fitting background. To draw a perfect full moon, use a protractor and measure the shape near the wolf’s head. Feel free to make it especially large for an impactful illustration. Then, if you want to flesh out the rest of the composition, draw a few trees behind the wolf to indicate a forest.
Tip: If you’re planning on completing the drawing in ink, keep the balance of black and white in mind. For example, if the sky will be completely black, make sure there are enough white elements to compliment it and vice versa.
Step 6: Go over the drawing with ink and/or color
To finish your drawing in ink, pull out your favorite pen and slowly trace over your final drawing. Once you’ve gone along all of the graphite lines, consider adding texture to some of the white areas of the illustration to make it pop. Hatching and drawing dots are two easy ways to cover blank space in an interesting way.
Finally, once you’ve given the ink ample time to dry, erase any remaining pencil lines. Congrats! You now have a dramatic illustration of a wolf howling at the moon.