#MastoArtStudy Exercise N03

The last weeks we’ve been practicing our understanding of 3D objects and I now want to take this a step further. In this exercise I want you to practice to draw your subject in big simple shapes at first, and only focus on the details at very last moment. You can take inspiration of how I draw this squirrel below:

a photo of a squirrel on a branch looking up.

Photo by Skyler Ewing, taken from Pexels

a stepwise tutorial on how to draw a squirrel
  1. I draw a quick rectangle or cube, just to get a sense of the size and proportions of the subject.
  2. With simple elongated spheres I draw the major shapes first. Using a rounded box I draw the tail.
  3. Again, with simple shapes such as spheres I draw the outlines of the limbs, the eye, the ears and the nose. I also quickly draw the outline of the branch it’s sitting on using cilinders.
  4. Using simple elongated spheres I roughly draw the paws of the squirrel.
a follow up stepwise tutorial on how to draw a squirrel
  1. Now that all the major shapes are in place, I focus on the smaller shapes of the head.
  2. Finally I draw the line that seperates the white belly from the brown fur on top and make a few smaller corrections.
  3. The rough sketch is finished. I can now trace the shape with a sharper pencil and clean up the sketch.
  4. The final result without the rough sketch underneath.

I have purposely not drawn any details of the fur. The big mistake many artists make at first is thinking that the artwork will look good as long as all the details are in place. The truth is the exact opposite, the details don’t matter that much, it all depends on the big shapes instead.

The exercise

I’ve chosen several different photo’s of animals with relatively simple shapes that you find down below. I’d like you to try and choose one of the animals and break it down into simple shapes, before focusing on the details. You are allowed to trace the photograph if you want to, as long as you still break down the subject into simple shapes. I think tracing can help you learn a better understanding of the major shapes in your subject, it takes away the fear of getting the proportions right and let’s you focus on the shapes instead.

If you really want to draw a different animal, than please feel free to find a different picture.

When you’re done, post your image to Mastodon using the #MastoArtStudyNumber3 hashtag.


Since were in the middle of the holidays I take it many of you will be very busy. That’s why I set the deadline to tuesday 3rd of january, so we’ll have some extra time. Take it as a challenge this christmas, to try and sit down and do some drawing so you can relax in these busy days.

Giving and receiving constructive feedback

Now a big point of #MastoArtStudy is giving each other constructive feedback. This does not mean bashing somebody over the head with what they did wrong, but rather pointing out what the artist did right in the drawing and pointing out the area’s where the artist could improve. Now when receiving constructive feedback, don’t take it personally. The feedback is meant to help you improve. We all have to improve, that’s why we’re doing these studies. So try to refrain from making excuses or explanations for the area’s other artists point out where you should improve, listen and set goals for your next drawing based on the feedback you’ve received.

If you really don’t want to receive feedback, but you still want to share your exercise sketch using the #MastoArtStudyNumber3 hashtag, then please write No feedback in your post.

Now with that said, happy drawing everyone!

a photo of a squirrel on a branch looking up.

Photo by Skyler Ewing, taken from Pexels

a photo of a robin sitting on a branch.

Photo by Pixabay, taken from Pexels

a photo of a Capibara sitting in a pond

Photo by Magali Guimaraes, taken from Pexels

a photo of a chipmunk with its cheeks stuffed and tongue sticking out.

Photo by Skyler Ewing, taken from Pexels

a photo of a Great Tit sitting between two bramble branches.

Photo by Thierry Rossier, taken from Pexels