The following lesson comes from Learning by Designing
Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art,
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,
Step 1. Realistic wolf head reference
Painted north coast art style wolf
Draw a realistic wolf head or wolf head outline the size of
your proposed finished design.
Step 2. Realistic wolf head outline
A. Darken the outline of your original drawing with ink or
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.
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.
Step 4. Fineline outline using dotted realistic guideline
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
(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
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
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
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
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.
showing similarities and differences between realistic and north
coast art style drawings of a wolf head
Step 8. Completed design
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.