How to Draw a Dog using a Grid


Learn How to Draw a Dog, or anything you can take a picture of, using a Grid! Using grids is an easy way to accurately transform any photograph or picture into a realistic drawing.

Grid drawings may not be considered observational drawings by some. However, this is a great exercise for observing the simplicity of 2D shapes by breaking down larger images into smaller, abstract units.

dog drawings

How to Draw a Dog in Charcoal Step-by-Step:

  • Make a black and white photocopy or print out of your photograph. Because you will be drawing lines on it try to avoid using the original photo. You can also draw lines on it using Photoshop and print that out instead.

  • Make it easy on yourself by choosing an image with very high contrast. You can also manipulate the contrast on your computer using photo editing software.

  • Split the photo into small squares. You might need to play with proportion. For example, if your photo is 5x5" then you can draw lines every inch horizontally as well as vertically.

    *It's important to translate squares into squares with this technique. If you begin with squares on your photocopy but draw rectangles on your drawing you'll end up with a distorted and elongated final drawing!


grid drawings For this how to draw a dog lesson, we will be using the Charcoal Drawing technique. If you are unfamiliar with this technique please review the Charcoal Drawing Lesson first.

The size of your drawing paper should be larger than your photo. However, the proportion should be the same. A small square simply becomes a larger square. If your photo is rectangular, use your math abilities to decide how big your paper should be. For example: a 5x7 inch photo will enlarge into a 20x35 inch drawing.

  • The drawing paper you choose should be thick enough to hold up to lots of smudging and erasing. It should also have just enough texture to hold the charcoal. Read about various charcoal paper types or watch the charcoal video for a more thorough explanation.

  • Use tape to mask off the proportional square or rectangle onto your drawing paper.

    *Note: You want to be able to remove the tape later without tearing into the paper. For this reason, blue or purple drafting tape works well as it is less sticky than the usual off-white masking tape. You can also make your masking tape less sticky by first taping it to an article of clothing before using it to tape down your paper. Make sure the surface you tape it to is smooth, otherwise you risk transferring unwanted textures onto your drawing.

  • Draw little marks at set intervals onto your tape. You want to end up with the same number of squares on both your photo and your drawing paper. Otherwise you'll could run out of squares to draw on!
how to draw a dog

  • Begin by laying out a smooth gray background using vine charcoal. Watch detailed instructions on how to get started here.

  • Use the same vine charcoal and a straight edge (such as a ruler) to draw the grid onto your paper.

  • Begin to fill in the squares one by one using vine charcoal or compressed charcoal pencils. I like work from top to bottom to avoid accidentally smudging what I've already drawn.

  • Don't worry about refining the details until after you've blocked in the basic values. It's best to keep things loose at first and then refine and define later.

grid drawing dog charcoal drawing
dog charcoal drawing How to Draw a Dog

  • Once you have your basic values down, begin to focus on the details within each square. Now is the time to use compressed charcoal pencils, blending stumps, erasers and/or eraser pencils.

  • Continue to work on each square one by one. Blending, adding and erasing charcoal as needed.

grid drawings charcoal blending charcoal blending stump charcoal erasing charcoal drawing

  • Continue to refine the details, checking your photograph for reference. At some point the grid marks will have disappeared. Don't try to draw them back in however, instead, step back and check the overall details of the photograph as compared to your drawing to make the proper adjustments.

  • When you feel you are completely done simply spray your drawing with fixative (Optional). IMPORTANT! You must take your drawing, tape and all OUTSIDE for this step. Avoid breathing the hazardous spray, read the warning label and follow directions.

  • Let the fixative dry for a minute before removing the tape. Once you have gently removed the tape you will have a nice clean white border surrounding your drawing. (I stress the word gently - depending on the type of tape you use it can tear your paper if you are not extra careful when removing it)

Hope you enjoyed the How to Draw a Dog tutorial!


Go from How to Draw a Dog to Learn to Draw

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