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When learning to draw, students often find themselves equally enthralled and anxious about the process. How do they turn lines and shapes into a figure that others can recognize? Budding artists spend hours learning how to form drawings of the world around them, starting with simple square houses and expanding to animals and people. The dog is one of the first animals artists learn to draw. In the future, they can expand on the idea to make their dog look more realistic.  

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Gather the Materials

Before starting the dog drawing, it is important to gather the materials needed to finish the figure. This includes paper or a sketchpad, a surface to draw on and a drawing utensil. This can be a pen, pencil, colored pencil or marker, or some other medium. Students will need an eraser, particularly if they use foundation circles to help form the shape of the body.

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Using Reference Materials

When drawing a dog for the first time, it is important that individuals keep a picture or likeness handy for reference. Drawing from the imagination is difficult, leaving many experienced artists struggling to capture the details of a figure or animal. Having a general form to follow can only make the drawing better.

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Start out with Three Ovals

The simplest way to draw a dog is to start with two circles and an oval. These shapes will represent the dog's head and body. First, draw an oval and a circle side by side. The oval will be the truck of the body; the circle will represent the tail end of the dog. To the upper left of the trunk oval, draw a smaller circle. This will be the head.

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Add the Legs

This can be difficult for those with a tendency to overthink. It is helpful to have a picture of a dog at this point since it is easier to see how the legs are shaped. It is important to make the legs wide enough but not so wide they look like tree trunks. The front legs should extend from the oval; the back legs should come from the other circle. A dog's back legs do not travel straight down from the truck but are set at an angle.

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Connect the Ovals and Circle

Using an image of a dog as a guide, connect the circle representing the head with the two shapes that reveal the body. Don't forget to add a tail off of the end of the drawing. Keep lines curved, since most animals don't have straight-lined bodies or necks. If necessary, draw lightly so that it can be erased if the shape doesn't match up to expectations. At this point, the general shape of the dog should be recognizable.

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Add Facial Features

This can be the most difficult aspect of drawing a dog. If the face isn't proportioned correctly, the dog will look "off." Space the eyes evenly and make sure that the whites of the eye are visible. Decide whether the dog is looking forward or toward the viewer and adjust the snout accordingly. Draw both ears the same size and shape.

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Look the Drawing Over

It can take many tries to get the final shape of the dog correct. Students should study the drawing, paying special attention to the dimensions of the facial features. Then take a look at the drawing from a distance. Often, seeing the whole drawing in one glance can draw the eye to problems with proportions or shapes that don't reveal themselves up close.

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Erase the Foundation Circles

Now it is time to polish the drawing. Erase the circles and oval from the drawing, which will leave just the dog. Perfectionists often spend a lot of time after the piece is done erasing stray lines or areas that don't quite reflect the desired look. It is easy to overdo it with changes here, and those who don't eventually put the page down will find themselves doubting the validity of the drawing altogether.

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Experiment with Other Mediums

After drawing a dog on a piece of paper or sketchpad, students should work to hone their skill by practicing using other mediums. Watercolors and colored pencils create a different look, just as charcoal and fine marker do. Part of the process of learning to draw is training the hand and fingers to follow patterns of movement, smooth strokes and straight lines for example. Working with different tools gives students a chance to perfect how they draw a dog, as well as other figures.

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Add More Complexity

Once students become comfortable with creating the general shape of their dog, they can try to create a different style of dog. They may decide to try to draw a cartoon figure or a more realistic sample. If they're happy with the style of dog they drew but feel they could add more detail, they might try to incorporate shading or produce texture. There are no wrong ways to draw. The only way to fail at drawing is to give up on a piece.

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