Drawing stick figures is one thing, but most people assume that being able to draw a realistic cow requires a bit more skill.
In actual fact, all you need is a pencil, some paper, and our step-by-step guide on cow drawing which covers all of the shapes and proportions.
It might not look much like a cow at first, but ditch the stick figures and stick with it!
What You Will Learn In This Guide
You might think that you need to be an expert artist already in order to sketch something as technically complicated as a cow. That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step guide that caters to any age and ability, so that you can learn to master cow drawing.
The thing about drawing animals is that there’s more than just the shape to get right, so as well as giving you a list of detailed, easy-to-follow instructions, we’ll also walk you through some artist’s tips and tricks regarding proportions, shading, movement, and more.
Get ready to draw a cow that looks so real, you’d expect it to “moo” right at you from the page.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s an overview of what you can expect to find in each section of this guide.
A Quick Preview of All Steps
Trying to picture the finished result can be difficult when the first few steps tell you to draw a few (seemingly) randomly placed lines, shapes, or circles, but these will form the basic shape that acts as guidelines for your cow drawing.
That’s why we thought it may be useful for you to see a brief overview of the entire cow drawing process, so you can see how the initial steps will lead you to your desired drawing.
How to Draw a Cow Step-by-Step
Step 1 – Sketch Out a Horizontal and a Vertical Line
Sketch out a horizontal and a vertical line, making sure you don’t press down too hard on the pencil – these should only be faint lines as they will provide the outline for your cow drawing.
The endpoint of the vertical line should touch the center point of the horizontal line.
You can draw these lines free-hand or you can use a ruler if you prefer. It doesn’t matter if they’re a little rough around the edges as you will erase most of the guidelines later.
Step 2 – Draw a Horizontal Line Above the Vertical Line
Next, draw a horizontal line above the vertical line to create a shape that will become the basis for the cow’s torso.
Step 3 – Vertical Line on the Right Side of the Shape
Draw a vertical line on the right side of the shape to connect the top and bottom horizontal lines.
Step 4 – Complete the Same Step On the Left Side of the Shape
For the next part of the cow drawing, complete the same step on the left side of the shape to close in the box.
The center vertical line that you drew in step one should split the bigger rectangle into two smaller rectangle shapes.
Step 5 – Draw a Vertical Line to the Left of the Large Rectangle
Moving onto the head part of this cow drawing, draw a vertical line to the left of the large rectangle that’s half as long in length.
Step 6 – Draw a Short Straight Horizontal Line
Draw a short, straight horizontal line up to the top of the last line you drew for the top of the head.
Step 7 – Draw the Lower Portion of the Mouth
For the lower portion of the mouth, draw another short horizontal line that’s just above the lowest point of the right side of the head.
Step 8 – Create a Head Shape with Two Diagonal Lines
Draw two diagonal lines to create a head shape, with one touching the left edges of the top and bottom horizontal lines and the other touching the right edge of the bottom horizontal line, and the long vertical line that shows where the cow’s head ends.
Step 9 – Draw the Mouth Portion of the Cow’s Head
For the mouth portion of the cow’s head, draw a short line to connect the two diagonal lines at the bottom.
Step 10 – Draw a Line to Form the Underbelly and Neck
About a third of the way up from the bottom horizontal line, draw another horizontal line that’s shorter in length than the lines that are above and below. This will be the cow’s underbelly.
Leaving a gap for the legs to join later on, draw another short line. From the right side of the line, draw a line going upwards diagonally to form the cow’s neck.
Step 11 – Rough Guide for the Stomach Section
Draw a circle in the middle of the upper part of the rectangle touching the top horizontal line and the shorter horizontal line. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle! This is only meant to be a rough guide for the stomach section of the cow drawing, so feel free to go free-hand here.
Step 12 – Draw Another Smaller Circle
Next to the circle you’ve just drawn, draw another smaller circle that’s about half the size in the upper right-hand corner.
Step 13 – Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle
In the lower left-hand corner above the gap, you left between the two shorter horizontal lines, draw another circle that’s slightly smaller than the one on the right-hand side.
Step 14 – Draw Another Smaller Circle
For the next part of the cow drawing, draw another circle above the last circle you drew with the top of the circle touching the top horizontal line. This will be the hump of the cow.
Step 15 – Draw Another Circle for the Cow’s Breast
Draw another circle for the cow’s breast. This should touch the lower right-hand side of the large middle circle and overlap the horizontal line beneath it.
Step 16 – Draw the Outline for the Body
In the middle of the cow’s body, draw a straight horizontal line that extends from the right-hand side to just beyond the large center circle.
You’ve successfully drawn the outline for the body of your cow drawing! You can now follow these guidelines to draw the main body of the cow in more detail.
Step 17 – Draw a Diagonal Line Down the Middle of the Neck
Next, draw a diagonal line down the middle of the neck portion of the cow drawing until it hits the edge of the body.
Step 18 – Draw a Line that Connects the Hump of the Cow
Now it’s time to move onto the leg section of the cow drawing.
Starting with the left leg, draw a line that connects the hump of the cow, passing through the circle beneath it until it reaches the bottom horizontal line you drew at the beginning with a small flick to the left to finish.
Step 19 – Draw Another Line for the Front Right Leg
Draw another line for the front right leg.
This should be shorter and should run along the right side of the first line from the bottom of the lower small circle to about the same place as the first line finishing with another flick to the left.
Step 20 – Draw the Hind Legs
To draw the hind legs, draw a line that starts straight then arches slightly to the right as it comes down from the rear hump until it connects with the edge of the large rectangle, let your pencil follow a straight line towards the bottom horizontal line and flick it to the left.
Step 21 – Draw the Second Hind Leg
The next step of the cow drawing is to draw a shorter vertical line for the second hind leg that starts between the small circle and the first hind leg and flick it to the left at the bottom.
Step 22 – Draw a Line for the Tail
Draw a line for the tail which should follow the curve from the top of the small upper right circle that represents the cow’s rear hump and fall down the side of the large rectangle shape. Finish it off with a small oval which will be the bottom hair of the tail.
Step 23 – Draw Two Small Circles for Eyes
Now focusing on the face of the cow drawing, draw two small circles for eyes in the shape you’ve drawn for the cow’s head.
Step 24 – Draw a Circle for the Mouth
Draw a circle in the bottom left corner of the cow’s head for the mouth.
Step 25 – Draw Two Small Ovals
For the jaw, draw two small ovals in the bottom right corner of the head, one diagonally and one horizontally, both meeting in that corner.
Step 26 – Draw a Slightly Curved Line for the Upper Portion
Draw a slightly curved line for the upper portion of the head and connect it to a small circle where the right side ends.
Step 27 – Draw Small Circles for the Horn
Next to the circle you’ve just drawn, draw another small circle for the right horn and another at the opposite side of the cow’s head for the left horn.
Step 28 – Add Two Small Curved Lines
Add two small curved lines to the circles for the horns.
Step 29 – Draw Two Curved Lines
Within the rectangle guide for the body, on the left side but at the right of the top left hump, draw two curved lines for the front of the cow’s body and the top of the cow’s back.
The horizontal line should end where it touches the biggest middle circle as this is the belly section of the cow drawing.
Step 30 – Draw the Cow’s Rear Hump
On the other side of the circle, draw another slightly curved line and a small circle that touches the end of this line for the cow’s rear hump.
Step 31 – Draw the Cow’s Udders
Add two small half-ovals to the circle which is at the bottom right of the larger, belly circle. These are the cow’s udders.
Step 32 – Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle
Next to the first udder, draw another slightly smaller circle that just overlaps it. Add two small half-ovals to complete the udder.
Step 33 – Draw Circles for Leg Joint and Hooves
In the space that’s left between the back leg and the cow’s udders, draw a small circle for the leg joint and add two small circles for hooves.
The front circle can be a little bigger than the second as this will help you get the hoof proportions right.
Step 34 – Another for the Front Leg Joints
Draw two circles, one per leg, for the joints on the front legs.
Step 35 – Another Circle for the Hooves
At the bottom of the leg, draw two circles to indicate the hooves, as you did for the other side of the cow drawing.
Step 36 – Draw a Line for the Front of the Body
Draw a line for the front of the body that starts from the center of the small circle that is the cow’s top-left rump and curves to the left to hit the left side of the rectangle shape.
Step 37 – Short Curved Line for the Undercarriage of the Cow’s Belly
Following the line of the big circle, go over this and add a short curved line for the undercarriage of the cow’s belly.
Step 38 – Connect the Hind Legs
Connect the hind legs by drawing a curved line that runs from the right hind leg, up to the bottom right corner of the cow’s belly.
Step 39 – Draw a Curved Line for the Dewlap
In the bottom left corner of the rectangle shape where it shoots up diagonally, draw a curved line for the dewlap which will connect to the cow’s neck.
Step 40 – Draw Triangular Shapes for the front of the Hooves
Tracing over the front circles on all 4 hooves, loosely draw triangular shapes for the front of the hooves.
Step 41 – Add Three Small Circles
Add three small circles an equal distance apart at the top, middle, and bottom of the tail.
Step 42 – Draw a Larger Curved Line
Draw a larger curved line spanning the width of the cow’s body. Start just below the rump at the front of the cow and connect it to the back lump. Allow it to dip in the middle so it touches the second horizontal line in the rectangle shape.
Step 43 – Draw the Nose
Draw a nose by creating a rough circular-ish shape with a smaller circle in the middle of it.
Step 44 – Draw the Lower Portion of the Mouth
Next to the nose, draw another small circle for the lower portion of the mouth.
Step 45 – Sketch the Upper Portion of the Nose
Roughly sketch two straight lines from the eyes to the nose with a slight lean to represent the upper portion of the nose.
Step 46 – Add a Line in the Middle
Add a line in the middle of these two and join it to the left vertical line via a short horizontal line.
Step 47 – Mark Out the Area for the Cow’s Eyes
Inside the circles that mark out the area for the cow’s eyes, draw two small circles.
Step 48 – Draw a Curved Line for the Forehead
Draw a curved line for the forehead, starting from the right side of the left eye and taking it up to the top of the head. You should notice it beginning to look a little bit more 3D by now.
Step 49 – Trace the Top Horizontal Line
Trace the top horizontal line to create the cow’s back and allow this to run down over the rear hump, curving slightly.
Step 50 – Define the Bottom of the Tail
Going back to the tail, flesh out the sketch lines you’ve already drawn so that it starts to look more realistic. Add a strand of hair that ends in a defined point at the bottom of the tail.
Step 51 – Cow’s Rear Thigh
Draw a line for the cow’s rear thigh, allowing the pencil to follow a natural-looking curve.
Step 52 – Continue to the Bottom of the Rear Thigh
Join the previous line to the bottom of the rear leg and continue to outline the hoof.
Bring this line back up, starting straight but leaning diagonally left as it passes through the small rear udder and curves around the top of the larger rear udder until touching the belly.
You’ll now be able to see a fully formed leg in your cow drawing!
Step 53 – Draw the Hind Rear Leg
Draw the hind rear leg by tracing around the guidelines you’ve drawn as you’ve just done.
Step 54 – Repeat Step for the Front Leg
Repeat this step to draw the first front leg. Make it wider at the top and almost blocky for the cow’s muscle, then make the leg narrower as you get closer to the hoof.
Step 55 – Draw the Bottom of the Last Leg
Finally, draw the bottom of the last leg which is showing from behind the one you’ve just drawn.
Remember that the small circles you drew earlier are there to show you where the leg muscles would be. Draw the line accordingly so that it bends or dips slightly here.
Step 56 – Draw the Underside of the Belly
Draw a curved line for the underside of the belly that follows the bottom of the large circle.
Step 57 – Extend the Line
For the next step of the cow drawing, extend the line for the top of the cow’s back to the left. This will form the back of the cow’s neck.
Step 58 – Draw the Dewlap Properly
Go back over the rough line you drew for the dewlap and draw it properly, pressing slightly harder on the pencil to make a more definite shape.
Step 59 – Draw in the Cow’s Right Ear
Draw in the cow’s right ear and add a curved line inside to represent the inside of the ear.
Step 60 – Draw the Right Horn
Next to the ear, draw the right horn curving over, ending in a sharp point.
Step 61 – Draw the Left Horn
Draw the left horn in properly as well. This one shouldn’t come up and curve over like the other horn, as this will be hidden by the cow’s head which will keep the proportions accurate.
Step 62 – Fill the Gap Between the Horns
Fill the gap between the horns with a line for the cow’s head, then bring this down with a slight wave that follows the curve of the circle you’ve drawn for the left eye.
Step 63 – Draw a Straight Line Over and End it in a Nose
From the left eye, draw a straight line over the guidelines you drew earlier and end it in a nose.
Step 64 – Draw the Lower Portion of the Head
Draw the lower portion of the head from the nose until it connects with the top of the neckline.
Step 65 – Draw the Cow’s Eyes in Detail
The next step of your cow drawing requires a bit more detail, as it’s now time to draw the cow’s eyes in properly.
Using the circle you drew earlier for the right eye as a guide, start by drawing a curved arch for the eyelid.
Beneath this draw another slightly less arched curved line for the top of the eye. Draw a semi-circle underneath for the pupil, leaving a thin layer of white, coloring a thicker band of black, and leaving a small circle closer to the nose than the center for the middle of the eye.
Step 66 – Draw the Front Hooves Properly
Draw the front hooves in properly with a short vertical line between the front hoof.
Step 67 – Repeat for the Rear Hooves
Repeat this for the rear hooves, with the hoof closer to the front having a line down the middle.
Step 68 – Connect the Teets to the Udders
Following the circles you drew in for the udders, draw these in properly with the lines connecting the teets to the udders.
Step 69 – Draw Small Lines for Muscle Definition
Draw in some small lines around the cow’s front and rear rumps for muscle definition.
Step 70 – Define the Muscles in the Neck Area
Draw some small lines in the neck area of the cow to define the muscles.
Step 71 – Draw Some More Bone Lines
Go in and draw some more bone lines around the face, stomach, and lower part of the cow.
Step 72 – Define the Lines Properly
Now for the final step, which is to go over all the final lines properly to define them and bring your cow drawing to life.
Step 73 – A Complete Drawing of a Realistic Cow
Once you’ve drawn the final lines, you can carefully rub out the guidelines you drew throughout the process until you’re left with a complete drawing of a realistic cow.
If you’re drawing the final lines in pen ink you can afford to be less careful with the eraser as it won’t alter the pen lines or take away anything from the final part of the drawing, although you should still always take care not to tear the paper by rubbing it too hard.
After the final lines have been drawn in you can fill the rest of the cow drawing in with color using your pens, pencils, paints, or whatever else you’ve decided to use.
Holy cow, you’ve done it!
Artist’s Tips and Tricks
Now you’ve read through the instructions for your cow drawing, you will likely have a finished cow. However sometimes, no matter how closely you follow the instructions provided, the finished result doesn’t look quite right.
It could be something as simple as one line being longer or thicker than the other when it’s not supposed to be, which could throw off the balance of the whole drawing.
Whatever it is, here are some useful hints, tips, and tricks that should help you refine your cow drawing for more realistic results.
Getting the proportions right is one of the hardest things about any drawing.
It can have particularly distortional effects when you’re drawing three dimensional animals or human figures as when body parts aren’t proportional it can throw the whole image off.
This is why you should start by drawing shapes to mark out the different areas of the body, as it will make it easier to maintain the right proportions when you draw the cow properly which means you’ll be less likely to draw a head that’s bigger than the body, for example.
Shading takes a 2D drawing into the realm of 3D by creating the illusion that certain parts of the picture are closer to you than others.
This effect is created by shading sections to make it look like they are further away, but it’s important not to take this too far or too dark. Hatching is a good technique for darker areas that doesn’t end up looking like you’ve simply colored it in.
Use an eraser to lighten any areas you’ve over-shaded or in places where the shading needs to be so light it’s practically still white, as this will create more depth in your drawing.
Bodies are three-dimensional, so whether you’re drawing an animal or a human form, you’ll need to be mindful of how different body parts move, which muscles need to be defined, and how the different body parts are connected.
The lower leg, for example, is connected to the top of the leg, so you’ll need to follow any movement through the whole of the leg to make sure everything is still in proportion.
That’s the end of this step-by-step cow drawing guide. We hope you enjoyed drawing this cow as much as we did. If you are interested in drawing more animals, then you might want to check out our other drawing tutorials as well.