How To Draw A Cow

The Cow You'll Be Drawing
The Cow You’ll Be Drawing

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.

To ensure this guide is easy to follow, and to break the drawing down into more manageable chunks, the instructions are organized into groups that focus on different areas of the body.

Your cow drawing will start with the main torso, then you’ll move on to the head, and lastly down to the legs before we provide you with a few final steps to add the finishing touches.

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
How To Draw A Cow Step By Step

How to Draw a Cow Step-by-Step

How To Draw A Cow Body

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.

Sketch Out A Horizontal And A Vertical Line
1. Sketch Out A Horizontal And A Vertical 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.

Draw A Horizontal Line Above The Vertical Line
2. Draw A Horizontal Line Above The Vertical Line

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.

Vertical Line On The Right Side Of The Shape
3. Vertical Line On The Right Side Of The Shape

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. 

Complete The Same Step On The Left Side Of The Shape
4. Complete The Same Step On The Left Side Of The Shape

The center vertical line that you drew in step one should split the bigger rectangle into two smaller rectangle shapes.

Step 5 – 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. 

Draw A Line To Form The Underbelly And Neck
5. Draw A Line To Form The Underbelly And Neck

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 6 – 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.

Rough Guide For The Stomach Section
6. Rough Guide For The Stomach Section

Step 7 – 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.

Draw Another Smaller Circle
7. Draw Another Smaller Circle

Step 8 – 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. 

Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle
8. Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle

Step 9 – 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.

Draw Another Smaller Circle
9. Draw Another Smaller Circle

Step 10 – 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.

Draw Another Circle For The Cow’s Breast
10. Draw Another Circle For The Cow’s Breast

Step 11 – 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.

Draw The Outline For The Body
11. Draw The Outline For The Body

You’ve now 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 for the final drawing.

Step 12 – 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.

Draw A Line For The Tail
12. Draw A Line For The Tail

Step 13 – Add Three Small Circles

Add three small circles an equal distance apart at the top, middle, and bottom of the tail.

Add Three Small Circles
13. Add Three Small Circles

Step 14 – 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.

Draw Two Curved Lines
14. Draw Two Curved Lines

Step 15 – 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.

Draw The Cow’s Rear Hump
15. Draw The Cow’s Rear Hump

Step 16 – Draw the Cow’s Udders

Add two small half-ovals to the circle below what you’ve just drawn. These are the cow’s udders.

Draw The Cow’s Udders
16. Draw The Cow’s Udders

Step 17 – Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle

Next to the first udder, draw another slightly smaller circle that just overlaps it. Add two small half-ovals for the udders.

Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle
17. Draw Another Slightly Smaller Circle

Step 18 – 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.

Draw A Line For The Front Of The Body
18. Draw A Line For The Front Of The Body

Step 19 – 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.

Short Curved Line For The Undercarriage Of The Cow’s Belly
19. Short Curved Line For The Undercarriage Of The Cow’s Belly

Step 20 – Connect the Hind Legs

Connect the hind legs by drawing a curved line that runs through both of them.

Connect The Hind Legs
20. Connect The Hind Legs

Step 21 – 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.

Draw A Curved Line For The Dewlap
21. Draw A Curved Line For The Dewlap

Step 22 – Draw a Larger Curved Line

Draw a larger curved line spanning the width of the cow’s body. Start just below the left rump and the right lump, and allow it to dip in the middle so it touches the second horizontal line in the rectangle shape.

Draw A Larger Curved Line
22. Draw A Larger Curved Line

Step 23 – 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.

Trace The Top Horizontal Line
23. Trace The Top Horizontal Line

Step 24 – 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.

Define The Bottom of the Tail
24. Define The Bottom of the Tail

Step 25 – Draw the Underside of the Belly

Draw a curved line for the underside of the belly that follows the bottom of the large circle.

Draw The Underside of the Belly
25. Draw The Underside of the Belly

Step 26 – 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.

Connect The Teets To The Udders
26. Connect The Teets To The Udders

Step 27 – Draw Small Lines for Muscle Definition

Draw in some small lines around the cow’s front and rear rumps for muscle definition.

Draw Small Lines for Muscle Definition
27. Draw Small Lines for Muscle Definition

How To Draw A Cow Head

Step 1 – 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. This should connect to the diagonal line you drew earlier for the neck.

Draw A Vertical Line to the Left of the Large Rectangle
1. Draw A Vertical Line to the Left of the Large Rectangle

Step 2 – 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.

Draw A Short Straight Horizontal Line
2. Draw A Short Straight Horizontal Line

Step 3 – 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 up to the top of the diagonal line that is the neck of the cow drawing.

Draw The Lower Portion of the Mouth
3. Draw The Lower Portion of the Mouth

Step 4 – 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.

Create A Head Shape with Two Diagonal Lines
4. Create A Head Shape with Two Diagonal Lines

Step 5 – 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.

Draw The Mouth Portion of the Cow’s Head
5. Draw The Mouth Portion of the Cow’s Head

Step 6 – 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.

Draw A Diagonal Line Down The Middle of the Neck
6. Draw A Diagonal Line Down The Middle of the Neck

Step 7 – 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.

Draw Two Small Circles for Eyes
7. Draw Two Small Circles for Eyes

Step 8 – Draw a Circle for the Mouth

Draw a circle in the bottom left corner of the cow’s head for the mouth.

Draw A Circle for the Mouth
8. Draw A Circle for the Mouth

Step 9 – 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.

Draw Two Small Ovals
9. Draw Two Small Ovals

Step 10 – 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.

Draw A Slightly Curved Line for the Upper Portion
10. Draw A Slightly Curved Line for the Upper Portion

Step 11 – 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.

Draw Small Circles for the Horn
11. Draw Small Circles for the Horn

Step 12 – Add Two Small Curved Lines

Add two small curved lines to the circles for the horns.

Add Two Small Curved Lines
12. Add Two Small Curved Lines

Step 13 – Draw the Nose

Draw a nose by creating a rough circular-ish shape with a smaller circle in the middle of it.

Draw The Nose
13. Draw The Nose

Step 14 – Draw the Lower Portion of the Mouth

Next to the nose, draw another small circle for the lower portion of the mouth.

Draw The Lower Portion of the Mouth
14. Draw The Lower Portion of the Mouth

Step 15 – 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.

Sketch The Upper Portion of the Nose
15. Sketch The Upper Portion of the Nose

Step 16 – Add a Line in the Middle

Add a line in the middle of these two and join it to the right line via a short horizontal line.

Add A Line in the Middle
16. Add A Line in the Middle

Step 17 – 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.

Mark Out the Area for the Cow's Eyes
17. Mark Out the Area for the Cow’s Eyes

Step 18 – 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.

Draw A Curved Line for the Forehead
18. Draw A Curved Line for the Forehead

Step 19 – 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 for the back of the cow’s neck.

Extend The Line
19. Extend The Line

Step 20 – Draw the Dewlap Properly

Go back over the rough line you drew for the dewlap and draw it properly.

Draw The Dewlap Properly
20. Draw The Dewlap Properly

Step 21 – 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.

Draw in the Cow’s Right Ear
21. Draw in the Cow’s Right Ear

Step 22 – Draw the Right Horn

Next to the ear, draw the right horn curving over, ending in a sharp point.

Draw The Right Horn
22. Draw The Right Horn

Step 23 – 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.

Draw The Left Horn
23. Draw The Left Horn

Step 24 – 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.

Fill The Gap Between The Horns
24. Fill The Gap Between The Horns

Step 25 – 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.

Draw A Straight Line Over and End it in a Nose
25. Draw A Straight Line Over and End it in a Nose

Step 26 – 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.

Draw the Lower Portion of the Head
26. Draw the Lower Portion of the Head

Step 27 – 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.

Draw The Cow’s Eyes in Detail
27. Draw The Cow’s Eyes in Detail

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 28 – Define the Muscles in the Neck Area

Draw some small lines in the neck area of the cow drawing to define the muscles.

Define the Muscles in the Neck Area
28. Define the Muscles in the Neck Area

Step 29 – Draw Some More Bone Lines

Go in and draw some more bone lines around the face, stomach, and lower part of the cow.

Draw Some More Bone Lines
29. Draw Some More Bone Lines

How To Draw Cow Legs

Step 1 – Draw a Line that Connects the Hump of the Cow

Now it’s time to move onto the leg section of the cow drawing.

Draw A Line That Connects The Hump Of The Cow
1. Draw A Line That Connects The Hump Of The Cow

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 2 – Draw Another Line for the Front Leg

Draw another line for the front leg.

Draw Another Line for the Front Leg
2. Draw Another Line for the Front 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 3 – 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.

Draw The Hind Legs
3. Draw The Hind Legs

Step 4 – 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 in the middle of the small circle and the first hind leg and flick it to the left at the bottom.

Draw the Second Hind Leg
4. Draw the Second Hind Leg

Step 5 – 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.

Draw Circles for Leg Joint and Hooves
5. Draw Circles for Leg Joint and Hooves

The front circle can be a little bigger than the second as this will help you get the hoof proportions right.

Step 6 – Another for the Left Leg Joint

Draw two circles for leg joints on the left legs.

Another for the Left Leg Joint
6. Another for the Left Leg Joint

Step 7 – Another Circle for the Hooves

At the bottom of the leg, draw two circles to indicate the hoof, as you did for the other side of the cow drawing.

Another Circles for the Hooves
7. Another Circles for the Hooves

Step 8 – Draw Triangular Shapes for the front of the Hooves

Tracing over the front circles on all 4 hooves, draw loosely triangular shapes for the front of the hooves.

Draw Triangular Shapes for the front of the Hooves
8. Draw Triangular Shapes for the front of the Hooves

Step 9 – Cow’s Rear Thigh

Draw a line for the cow’s rear thigh, allowing the pencil to follow a natural-looking curve.

Cow’s Rear Thigh
9. Cow’s Rear Thigh

Step 10 – Continue to the Bottom of the Rear Thigh

Join this line at the bottom of the rear leg and continue to outline the hoof.

Continue to the Bottom of the Rear Thigh
10. Continue to the Bottom of the Rear Thigh

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 be able to see a fully formed leg in your cow drawing, now!

Step 11 – Draw the Hind Rear Leg

Draw the hind rear leg by tracing around the guidelines you’ve drawn as you’ve just done.

Draw The Hind Rear Leg
11. Draw The Hind Rear Leg

Step 12 – 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.

Repeat Step for the Front Leg
12. Repeat Step for the Front Leg

Step 13 – 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.

Draw the Bottom of the Last Leg
13. Draw the Bottom of the Last Leg

Remember that the small circles you drew earlier are there to show you where the leg muscles would be and draw the line accordingly so that it bends or dips slightly here.

Step 14 – Draw the Front Hooves Properly

Draw the front hooves in properly with a short vertical line between the front hoof.

Draw the Front Hooves Properly
14. Draw the Front Hooves Properly

Step 15Repeat for the Rear Hooves

Repeat this for the rear hooves, with the hoof closer to the front having a line down the middle.

Repeat for the Rear Hooves
15. Repeat for the Rear Hooves

Step 16 – 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.

Define the Lines Properly
16. Define the Lines Properly

Step 17 – 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.

A Complete Drawing of a Realistic Cow
17. 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 and you might have even had a go at drawing one already, but 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, or perhaps you’ve shaded a spot that’s supposed to be further away than the lighter section next to it? 

Whatever it is, here are some useful hints, tips, and tricks that should help you refine your cow drawing for more realistic results.

Proportions 

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

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.

Movement

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. 

Conclusion

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.

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