How to Draw a Frog
Want to learn how to draw a frog that looks like this?

Follow illustrator Gina Mikel's step-by-step instructions to draw a realistic frog. You may want to print out these instructions so you can see the whole sequence as you start your frog.


smooth white drawing paper
a 6B pencil (or a pencil that draws a soft, smudgy line)
a 2H pencil (or a pencil that draws a fine, clean line)
a kneadable eraser

1) Start with the 6B pencil (or any pencil with a soft lead will be fine). Draw the shape of the frog's body. This is the largest shape, so this is the one to start with. It's mostly an oval shape, but also think about where the oval is pulled in different directions and draw those "bumps."

Add the next largest shapes, the legs and feet and the line the eyes fall along. When doing the feet, don't draw in the individual toes yet. Think about the overall shape of the foot in relation to the other shapes it's near -- the other feet, the legs, the body of the frog. Draw as many guidelines as it helps you to have. You can erase them later.

Can you start to see the frog?

3) Look for shapes that are similar to each other in the object. In the frog, I focused on the circles in the shape of the eyes, the warts, the ear, the nose, etc. These repeated shapes give a drawing its rhythm.

I darken the pupil of the eye soon in the drawing process; that, more than anything else, gives me a sense of the portrait, the character of the face. There's a circular white highlight in the upper area of the pupil. Including that white spot makes the eye feel more alive. The feet of this frog aren't webbed, but beginning a drawing of hands or feet as though they are webbed will give you some guidelines for the angles and amount of space between the individual toes or fingers.

At this point, think about the action in your drawing. Is the frog sitting & resting or crouching & ready to leap? Is that what you intended? If the frog doesn't look like its doing what you'd intended it to, look to see if the angles of the legs need to be corrected. Maybe the unexpected position of the frog, though unexpected, is something you like. If that's the case, leave it be and change your intention.

4) Think about how the light falls on the frog and indicate the shadows under the frog and on its body. In this drawing, I've used small hatch marks to indicate shadows. Make the direction of these lines imitate the direction of the surface that the shadow falls along, changing the direction of the hatch marks when the slope of the surface changes. Be sure to include not only shadows that the frog casts on the ground he's resting on, but also the shadows cast on his body by protruding body parts.

For example, the ridge above the eye always casts a shadow on the lower half of the eye and the area just beneath that if the light source is coming from above (like the sun or an overhead light).

5) Now think about which lines have been lost that need to come back forward again to define the shape of the frog. Though a darkened area will look like it's further from a lighter area, a darkened line will look like it's more prominent than a lighter line. Redefine the important lines and add small things to the line, small bumps or curves that make the line of this frog's back, for example, different from the line of any other frog's back. Look for the shadows within the shadows, areas that are darker than others, and define them. Use your finger to smudge the shadows, as shadows are "shadowy" and don't have well-defined lines where they stop and start.

Add a few of the frog's coloration patterns and texture of his skin, a few of the warts in the large areas of the body, a few of the stripes on the legs.

6) Switch to your 2H pencil (or any pencil with a hard lead). Follow the surface of the drawing and refine areas that are interesting to you, maybe the shapes of the shadows, the lines around the eye that give the frog its character, the lines under the mouth, the warts along the back... With the harder pencil lead, you can fill in the white spaces in the shadows that the 6B pencil missed. Look at the overall surface of the frog and see which areas are the very lightest. Use your finger to smudge the carbon over the entire frog.

Then pick out the whitest highlights with the kneadable eraser. An eraser is a tool like a pencil is a tool. It's not simply to correct mistakes. Refine the drawing as much as you want, using the pencil and eraser to put in detail and take out detail. If you draw softly with the pencil, anything you put in can be taken out, though this soft treatment will give your image a resting, calm feel. For a more quick, active feeling, try drawing a frog using pen and ink.

Congratulations! You've drawn a frog! Did you learn to look at things differently - to see the different shapes within an object, the way light and shadow add dimension and depth?




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