How to Draw a Frog
Want to learn how to draw a frog that looks
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
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."
2) 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
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?