How to

How to Draw a Realistic Lion like an Artist


Drawing a realistic lion can be a challenging task, but it is also incredibly rewarding. In this article, I will share my step-by-step approach to drawing a lifelike lion. I will guide you through sketching the basic shapes of the lion’s head and adding intricate details to bring your drawing to life. So grab a pencil and paper, and let’s get started!

Sketching the Basic Shapes

To begin, we need to lay the foundation of our lion drawing by sketching the basic shapes. This will help us understand the perspective of the lion’s head and determine the placement of the facial features.

  1. Start by drawing a cross, with a vertical line in the center of your page and a horizontal line about one-third from the top.
    Step 1: Drawing a Cross

  2. Draw a circle around the point where the two lines intersect. This circle will represent the lion’s face, so make sure it is not too large, roughly half the length of the horizontal line.
    Step 2: Drawing the Circle

  3. Add two smaller circles on top of the main circle to represent the lion’s ears. These circles should be slightly smaller than one-quarter of the main circle. Don’t worry about perfect symmetry; an asymmetrical appearance will give your drawing a more natural look.
    Step 3: Adding the Ears

  4. Draw two even smaller circles towards the bottom of the face, overlapping slightly with the bottom of the main circle. These circles will form the muzzle or the mouth area. Each of these circles should be approximately two-thirds the length of each half of the face.
    Step 4: Drawing the Muzzle

  5. Add a half circle below the muzzle circles to create the bottom jaw. This half circle should be slightly smaller than the combined length of the two muzzle circles.
    Step 5: Adding the Bottom Jaw

  6. Connect the bottom half circle to the main circle by drawing two diagonal lines. These lines will form a triangle shape, representing the lion’s snout.
    Step 6: Connecting the Bottom Jaw

  7. Lightly draw two diagonal lines from the center point to the edges of the muzzle circles, forming a triangle shape within the snout area.
    Step 7: Drawing the Snout

  8. Sketch the lion’s mane by drawing a curved line that connects the tops of the ears and another larger curved line that extends from the bottom of the ears to the bottom of the vertical line. Remember, the further away from the bottom jaw you go, the longer the mane will be.
    Step 8: Sketching the Mane

Congratulations! You now have the basic structure of a lion’s head.

Adding Facial Features

Now that we have established the basic shapes, it’s time to add the lion’s facial features. We will start with the eyes and then move on to the nose and mouth.

The Eyes

  1. On the horizontal line, mark the mid-point of each half of the face. Slightly above the line, draw a small circle on each side of the face to represent the eyeballs.
    Step 9: Drawing the Eyeballs

  2. Around each eyeball, draw an ellipses shape, with the edge closest to the center of the face being the longest.
    Step 10: Adding Eyeball Shading

  3. To achieve the correct proportions for the eyes, remember that the whole eye should be roughly one-fifth the length of the face. Maintain consistency in the size of the gaps between the eyes and the gaps on either side of the eyes.
    Step 10: Proportions of the Eyes

The Nose

  1. Utilizing the existing muzzle circles, draw a squashed heart shape from the bottom point where the two circles meet to the top of each circle. Extend these shapes to roughly where each circle intersects the main face circle.
    Step 11: Outlining the Nose

  2. Add two small outwardly curving lines on each side of the heart shape, extending from the inside corners of each eye to the edges of the muzzle circles.
    Step 12: Drawing Nose Details

  3. Draw two slightly outwardly curving lines from the inside corner of each eye to the inner edges of the muzzle circles.
    Step 13: Nose and Eye Connections

  4. Next, add two smaller curved lines around the inside edges of the eyes, as shown in the image.
    Step 14: Refining the Eyes

  5. From the bottom of these lines, draw two larger curved lines that connect to the small lines at the side of the nose.
    Step 15: Completing the Nose

The Rest of the Face and Mane

  1. Add some cheekbones by drawing lines from the outside corners of the eyes to roughly the edge of the nose. Be careful not to cross the big outward-curving line we drew earlier.
    Step 16: Adding Cheekbones

  2. Refine the shape of the ears, head, and mouth to achieve a more natural and flowing appearance. Refer to the image below for guidance. You can now erase any construction lines, leaving only the basic outline of the lion.
    Step 17: Refining the Drawing

Adding Details and Finishing Touches

Now that we have laid the groundwork for our lion drawing, it’s time to add the final details and bring it to life. We will focus on adding shading, fur texture, and whiskers.

The Eyes, Nose, and Mouth

  1. Begin by adding a smaller circle inside each eye to represent the pupil. Within each pupil, add an even smaller circle to depict the reflection. Make sure the reflections are on the same side in both eyes.
    Step 18: Detailing the Eyes

  2. Divide each eye in half to create a shaded area at the top.
    Step 19: Shading the Eyes

  3. Above and below each eye, add curved lines to indicate the upper and lower parts of the eyelids and eye sockets. These curves should roughly follow the same shape as the eye.
    Step 20: Adding Eye Details

  4. For the nose, draw a large “Y” shape with a line running through the center to create the ridge in the center of the nose.
    Step 21: Defining the Nose

  5. The ears require two smaller lines on the inside of each ear, following the shape of the curve. This will add depth and dimension to the ears.
    Step 22: Detailing the Ears

  6. To give the mouth a slightly hanging appearance, add two smaller curved lines to each corner of the mouth.
    Step 23: Adding Mouth Details

The Mane

  1. Add shading to the chin and top of the head to create depth. Use a minimal number of lines and focus on drawing the fur as clumps rather than individual hairs.
    Step 24: Shading the Fur

  2. When drawing the fur, vary the size, shape, and direction of each clump to achieve a natural and realistic look. Remember that variation is the key to making the fur appear natural.
    Step 25: Drawing the Fur

  3. For the mane, use longer lines to indicate the longest hairs. Again, draw the hairs as clumps, varying their size and direction. The hair at the bottom of the mane should be slightly longer than the hair at the top.
    Step 26: Adding the Mane

  4. On the muzzle, draw a few lines of dots to represent the whiskers. Ensure each whisker is slightly different in length and curve to add realism to the drawing.
    Step 27: Drawing the Whiskers

Creating Realism: Shading and Texturing

To make your lion drawing appear more lifelike, we will enhance it with shading and fur texture.

  1. Identify the darker regions of the lion’s face, such as the cheekbones, eyes, and mane. Use a dark pencil or charcoal to add shading. Remember to apply light pressure to allow for blending later.
    Step 28: Adding Shading

  2. Cover the remaining areas with more pencil or charcoal and lightly blend them together using a tissue or blending stump to create smooth transitions.
    Step 29: Blending the Shading

  3. To establish more defined shadows and form, use even darker pencils or more charcoal on the cheekbones, eyes, and mane.
    Step 30: Defining Shadows

  4. Consider toning the background using the same shading technique to avoid the drawing appearing as if it is floating in white space.
    Step 31: Toning the Background

  5. For the fur texture, use a putty eraser or a regular eraser to gently remove charcoal or pencil marks from the surface of the paper. This will create the illusion of individual strands of fur.
    Step 32: Adding Fur Texture

  6. Repeat the process for other areas of the face and the mane, removing longer strands for the mane and shorter strands for the hair on the face.
    Step 33: Refining the Fur Texture

  7. Use a dark pencil to add final touches of shadow all over the face and mane, enhancing depth and realism.
    Step 34: Final Shadow Touches

  8. To draw the whiskers, use a pencil eraser or a sharp regular eraser. Draw lines of dots to represent the base of the whiskers and then create the whiskers themselves. Vary the length and curve of each whisker for a more interesting and realistic effect.
    Step 35: Drawing the Whiskers

Congratulations! You have completed your lifelike lion drawing.


Drawing a realistic lion requires patience and practice, but with the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you are well on your way to creating incredible drawings in your own style. Remember to keep practicing, and soon you’ll be able to draw lions quickly and confidently. If you would like to share your artwork, don’t forget to tag @StudioWildlife_Art on Instagram. For more tutorials and inspiration, consider joining our Patreon channel and following our Studio Wildlife Pinterest page.

Thank you for reading, and happy drawing!

(Original images from the article have been referenced and credited within the corresponding steps.)

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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