How to Draw a Wolf in Cartoon Style

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Learn step by step how to draw a wolf in fairy tale style.
This is the sort of wolf that ate the little red riding hood and her grandmother: A Big bad wolf, which is very hungry.
Unleash the beast and let it stroll through the forest on its search for yummy food.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 1:
The Skeleton

Start by drawing a simple "skeleton" for the wolf.
In this way you can sketch the wolf's size, position and pose with just a couple of quick lines.
On these "bones" we will add the flesh and the fur in later steps.

Sketch the skeleton very lightly, because it has to be erased later.

Draw an oval for the head.
Then let a long curved line arc out of its upper right.
This line is the backbone of the wolf.
Let it make two bulges: A rather long one at the beginning and a short one at the end.

Outline the snout with a simple square shape, for now.
Add a line into its lower part, to hint at the mouth.

Then add the bones for the legs.
The joints, from which the legs start, sit at the very top of the two bulges of the backbone.
Each of the legs attached to them consists of four lines which are connected with three joints.

The first joint is the elbow in the front legs and the knee in the hind legs.
The knee should sit at least as high as the elbow.
On the front legs the second joint is the wrist, while on the hind legs it is the ankle.
Set the ankle higher than the wrist.

And the last joint is there for the "fingers" and toes.
A wolf doesn't really walk on his whole hand or foot surface, but only on his toes and "fingers".

To include the tail, draw in a long curved line at the back end of the wolf.
Since this is a cartoon wolf I decided to let his tail fly high over his body to give him a cool dramatic look.
A real wolf also lifts his tail sometimes to intimidate other wolf rivals, but not in such an exaggerated fashion.

And with that the skeleton is finished.
Now it's time to pack a strong body on top of it.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 2:
Basic Head Shape

In this step we'll draw the actual body shape over the bones.
This shape is still simple and not very detailed.
We'll take care of details in the step after this one.

Let's start to outline the head properly:

Round the snout, so that it has no edges any more and let it bulge forward a little.
Also round the lower jaw, but be sure that it sticks out less than the snout.

The line for the mouth goes all the way in to the circle.
Add another small circle for the eye just above the end of this line.
We'll draw a detailed eye over it later.

At the upper side of the head, shortly before the circle, the snout line suddenly makes a sharp bend upwards.
This serves to indicate the forehead.
Let the line run upwards for a very short distance, then bend it to the right again and finish the head with one long slope.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 3:
The Torso

Continue to draw in the torso where the head ended.
Let the line at the top run closely along the spine, but don't let it bulge in and out that strongly.
(Well, that's at least what I decided to do. But it's your cartoon wolf, so feel free do let the line for the back bulge as much as you consider fancy.)
On the lower side, the line runs roughly on the height of the knees and elbows.
In the beginning it dives down a little, to make room for the broad chest.
Then it runs slightly upwards to the end of the body.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 4:
Legs and Tail

To draw the legs, just lead your pencil around the leg bones.
Note that the lines for the legs in the background end as soon as they reach the torso, while the lines for the legs in the front of the body reach above it.
Take care to make the thighs of the hind legs broad and rounded.

Also draw a broader outline around the tail and you're done with this step.
The flesh is on the bones and the wolf now has a body.
On this we'll now draw the details to make our wolf look great.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 5:
Nose & Mouth

Add the nose at the very tip of the snout.You can think of its shape as a water drop flying upwards, or a circle with a curved spike going out of its bottom.
The tip of the spike doesn't lie on the outer edge of the snout, but slightly inside of it.
Draw a curved line out of its bottom to separate the front of the snout into two parts.

Continue the line at the inner corner of the mouth.
Let it arc downwards and then run parallel to the jaw for a short while.
Bend it upwards again, after a while.
Change its direction again shortly before it touches the upper snout, by bending it forwards.
This little bend makes for a bulky looking chin.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 6:
Eye

Replace the circle with a real eye now.
Draw it as a long narrow shape with two circles inside of it.
The way how you draw the upper and lower eyelid will influence the expression of the wolf's look a lot.

The upper eye line starts going steeply upwards, bending only very slightly.
Then it makes a strong bend to the right and flatly curves towards the outer corner of the eye.
This flat curve should be much longer than the line before the knuckle.

The lower eye line starts with a bulge that goes upwards (emphasized through purple arrow).
This bulge is important to give the impression that the wolf is lifting his lower eyelid upwards, which is typical for an expression of anger.
Afterwards the lower line bulges out towards the outer eye corner.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 7:
Attentive Wolf Ears

The ears have the shape of thin pyramids which are leaning forwards.
Draw each with three curved lines and place them close to the end of the head.
Set the one on the front side of the head more to the right, and let its lines start from a lower position.
Set the ear on the back side of the head slightly more to the left.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 8:
Sharp Wolf Teeth for a Hungry Boy

Before drawing this step you can erase the skeleton to draw on a cleaner shape, just as I did.
Or you can wait until the last step, where you'll ink all final lines and erase the rest anyway.
Otherwise there are just the fangs to draw in this little step.

Besides that I made a tiny change to the snout:
The tip of the snout is divided by the line below the nose.
I set the bottom of the slim left side a bit higher, so that the front of the snout looks really separated into two rounded shapes.

Let your wolf drool to give him a really hungry look.
Draw a hanging drop at the corner of his mouth and an already falling drop below.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 9:
Facial Hair

Our wolf still looks largely like a dog right now.
In this step we'll add bristly fur to his face, which will leave his mighty wolfishness undoubted.

Drawing fur in cartoon style is all about drawing curved spikes.
We'll use a lot of them in all the coming steps.

Draw two curved rows of bent spikes, which are pointing backwards, across the eye.
Make the upper fur strands larger and the row a little bit longer than the lower one.
Then add a line below the eye.

To complete the snout, draw a straight line that starts at the right side of the nose and reaches up to eye level.
This line makes a clear division between the slim top of the snout and its broad side.

Draw a zigzag pattern across the side of the snout afterwards, to divide it into an upper section and a lower section.
The zigzag patterns are big at the beginning at get smaller towards the end.

You can add a couple of curved lines close to the inner corner of the wolf's eye.
I think these make him look old and sly.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 10:
Sideburns

Give your wolf some bristly sideburns and he will look even older.
Draw them similar to the fur above the eyes in two curved rows.
Let all strands of fur point downwards, like they're pulled down by gravity.

As a finishing touch you can draw a couple of curved spikes along the top of the head.
I like the horrent effect this gives to his face.
And since you're working up there already, you can draw triangles into the ears to complete them.
Close the side of the front ear at the bottom with an additional line.

And so good ol' Bigby Wolf goes into the next drawing stage.
All that is left are his feet and the body fur.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 11:
"The Mane"

The mane of the wolf consists of three curved rows of fur strands covering the neck.

Draw the first row closely behind the head.
Let the strands point upwards at the top, and hang down at the bottom.

Add the second layer of the mane.
Don't let the uppermost fur strands grow directly out of the body outline, but let them hover slightly above it.
This will make the mane look much thicker.

Finally add the last layer of the mane.
Let it hover above the body outline at the top also.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 12:
Front Paws

In this step you'll give your master wolf some paws to sneak through the woods.

Draw toes into the square of the standing front paw.
Each toe can be drawn with four straight lines: One at the bottom, two at the front, and one at the top.
Only the toe in the very front is visible in its whole length.
The other ones are partially overlapped through their predecessors.

Now your wolf needs a couple of sharp claws to seize his prey.
Let one grow out of each toe.
Do this by extending the upper front of the toe with a curved line that reaches down to the bottom.
Then draw a line curved like a question mark on the other side to finish the claw.

Wolves have just four toes they walk on (I have drawn only three here, because the fourth toe is completely overlapped by the others).
But on the front legs they still have a fifth rudimentary toe, which is of no use, but still hanging on the leg.
This is their "thumb".
Draw it in a bit higher at the side of the leg.

Apply the same procedure to the other front paw.
Draw each toe with four straight lines, and let the toes overlap each other.
Then add claws to their tips.
On this foot you don't see the fifth rudimentary toe however, because it is on the backside.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 13:
Hind Paws

Do the same thing all over again for the hind paws.
Draw each toe as always with four straight lines.
Here I made four toes visible on the right leg, and only three on the left one, but feel free to modify that to your liking.

Here the shape of the legs is slightly altered: a little bit above the paw there is a bulge going out of the leg on the backside.
But you can skip that, if you don't like it. On a real wolf you actually don't see this very much, but it makes the shape a bit more interesting.

Give claws to each of the hind paws and you're done with all paws.
Your wolf is well on his way to become a good hunter now.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 14:
Body Fur

Draw fur strands all around the body, except for the head, because he already has his fur, and the paws, because they just don't get any.

Of course you could also leave the body surface smooth without adding any spiky fur strands at all, if you like.
I preferred it this way, because a hirsute fur adds great to the Big Bad Wolf expression I wanted this cartoon wolf to have.

The purpose of the arrows is to emphasize in which direction the fur strands are bending on the body part next to them.
Some strand are curved towards the body (e.g. along the back), while others are bending away from the body (e.g. on the lower front legs.)

Feel free to divert from my choice.
I just ended up with this version, after trying out a couple of different ways how to draw the fur strands.

The last thing left to do is the inking and coloring.

How to Draw a Wolf - Step 15:
Inking and Coloring

Get out an inking pen and redraw slowly and carefully all the lines of the wolf you want to keep.
When you're done, erase all pencil lines and your wolf is ready to be colored.

There are a lot of possibilities how to do this, because depending on the area where a wolf lives the color of his fur differs.
It can be grey, brown, black, red, or even yellow (the later in Saudi Arabia.).
I recommend that you color him as an artic white wolf, because then you are already finished, ha ha.

And so your grim cartoon wolf is ready to be a tyrant in the next fairy tale he may stumble into.
Grannies beware!

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