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How to Draw a Wolf Head

The following lesson comes from Learning by Designing Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art,
Volume 1.

The following north coast art style design starts with a realistic drawing of a wolf head, then uses the outline of the same drawing as the basis for drawing and colouring a single colour wolf head using north coast art style design formline principles and rules. This technique will work for many other creatures and art styles, as well.

 Wolfhead realistic gif

  Drawn realistic
wolf head

 Wolfhead gif

  Painted north coast art style wolf head

Step 1. Realistic wolf head reference

Draw a realistic wolf head or wolf head outline the size of your proposed finished design.
Wolfhead outline gif

Step 2. Realistic wolf head outline

A. Darken the outline of your original drawing with ink or dark pencil.
B. Put a new piece of paper over your drawing and secure with tape or paper clip.
C. Trace over your outline on your new paper.
D. Remove and file the original drawing.Wolfhead step 2 gif

Step 3. Dotted outline
You may choose to do this step without doing Step 2. Either erase some parts of your outline or make a dotted outline instead of the solid outline in Step 2.Wolfhead step 3 gif

Step 4. Fineline outline using dotted realistic guideline
Wolfhead step 4 gif

A. Draw the main formline ovoid of the head.
B. Extend the ear length to a somewhat narrow round ended U shape which is sloped to the rear of the head.
C. Extend the muzzle/snout length forward from the realistic outline and add the nose with its spiral nostril design.

(1) Draw a joining line from the forehead area of the formline head ovoid.
(2) Draw a joining line from the top jaw area of the head ovoid to the lower muzzle/snout area and then curve and taper the line back and around to form a spiral nose with a circular nostril.

D. Draw the lower jaw line from the head formline ovoid rear bottom (jaw hinge area) forward to the jaw tip. Slope this line slightly to accommodate teeth.

Step 5. Ear, eye orbit, inside muzzle and inside mouth
Wolfhead step 5 gif
A. Draw the inside fineline of the primary head ovoid. This forms the eye orbit. In north coast art style art, the resulting formline width at the top of the ovoid is wider than at the bottom of the ovoid.
B. Draw the inside fineline of the muzzle formline by curving the line up at both ends to result in a tapered juncture. Make a similar taper at the rear of the top jaw/muzzle line and the coiled end of the spiralled nose line.
C. Draw the inside fineline of the ear U shape.
D. Draw the inside fineline of the mouth area parallel to the existing lower jaw line. Start to curve the inside fineline up to join the primary head ovoid about 1/3 of the way in from the left side of the primary ovoid.

Step 6. Ear split U shape, snout S shape, and the eye
Wolfhead step 6 gif

A. Draw the split in the U shape. Since this is a one-colour (black) design, join the tapered bottom lines to the ovoid formline.
B. Draw the eyeball ovoid first. Centre the ovoid from left to right and raise it above the centre line from top to bottom. The bottom of the eye ovoid is parallel to the bottom line of the head ovoid. Draw the eyelid line around the eyeball ovoid. This eyelid line is typical of the north coast art style. See the chapter, Examples of Head Components - Eyes.
C. Draw the S shape filler in the snout. The top and bottom of the S shape are parallel to the primary formline. Join the tapered, pointed ends to the formline at the top/rear nose area and to the bottom right of the head ovoid.
D. Erase the dotted line section of the head ovoid.

Step 7. Teeth
Wolfhead step 7 gif

A. Draw two light guidelines that join at the back of the mouth and run parallel to the top and bottom lips. This will represent the biting surface of the teeth. Stop the line where you want the incisor teeth to start.
B. Draw light vertical lines through the horizontal guidelines at equal intervals from the back of the mouth to the incisor teeth. This will separate the individual teeth.
C. You should have a series of five rectangles on the top and five on the bottom. Round off the corners of these rectangles to shape the teeth into U shapes.
D. Draw the two incisor teeth about the same width at each base. They are U shapes with pointed, curved, solid colour extensions.
E. Slightly thicken the biting surface line of the teeth, remembering to fair these lines into the sides of the teeth.

Design overlay
showing similarities and differences between realistic and north coast art style drawings of a wolf head
Wolfhead step 7 gif

Step 8. Completed design

Wolfhead step 8 gif
A. Paint or colour in the formline with black.
B. If this design were a multi-coloured design, the split in the ear U shape and the S shape in the snout could be red, the eye orbit outside of the eyelid lines could be blue/green.

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Created April 23th 1996, last update: Oct 16th., 2007.

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