Lesson 3: Generic Dog Drawings

Lesson Overview

In this step-by-step drawing lesson students will create a generic dog head and then develop details to capture their (own) adoptable dog’s unique features.

Lesson Materials

1) a document camera or easel to demonstrate and guide the students through the art lesson
2) canvas or drawing paper for each student. (any drawing surface will work!)
3) pencils, erasers, and rulers for each student (rulers can be shared)

Go to PDF for printable file

Recommended: Before beginning with the art lesson, read the book The One and Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family by Steve Greig & Mary Rand Hess

Curriculum outcomes:
(from the Alberta Education Program of Studies for Grade 4 Art)

  • Symmetrical Balance: Identify (AC: 4b & c, 8b)
  • Asymmetrical balance: identify (AC: 5c & d, 8a & c)
  • Explore drawing media (AC: 10iii a) (CHC 10h)

Learning Activity
Reading and Group Discussion:
1) Read the book: The One and Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family by Steve Greig & Mary Rand Hess.

This book will help spark empathy in our discussions as we link art with character education and humane education. This will help to focus the goals of the project.
After reading the book have a class discussion about all of the rescue animals in the book and how they ended up becoming one big happy family. Ask your students:

  • What do you suppose makes them happy?
  • Do you think it is the friendships they make? The love they feel in their new families?
  • A feeling of safety?
  • Warm cozy beds to sleep in?
  • Healthy food to eat?

Then tell your class that soon we will start to think of what wonderful and loving homes their adoptable dogs may end up living in!

2) Show generic Dog Head “How to draw” characters: In lesson #2, the children all received their
adoptable dog profile and did a preliminary sketch. They focused on “drawing what you see and
not what you know” to get a feel for what their dog looks like when they are drawn on paper.
This lesson will focus more on looking at the shapes that make up a dog’s face and then adding
to those shapes to include the unique features of their adoptable dog. This lesson is similar to
one an art student may do to learn how to measure out and draw a portrait by first drawing a
generic head. The students may have a tough time understanding why, when all of our dogs are
so special and unique, we would draw them all seemingly the same. It would be recommended
(basing this on my own experience!) to show them an image of a ‘how to draw’ character like
Disney’s Pluto then show them a ‘how to draw’ image of Disney’s Goofy. They are both dogs so
we can use similar shapes to help us map out our portrait of them, but once we add the details,
and change the shapes to suit the individual dog’s face, they don’t look anything alike! I have
attached two “how to draw” images to this lesson plan for you to use. Both of these drawings
can be found here.

Hand out supplies
3) All students will need

  • a ruler
  • a pencil and an eraser
  • a piece of paper, a canvas board, or a stretched canvas. Even cardboard will work if it has been primed with gesso! Basically any drawing surface will work perfectly!

Art supplies, especially canvas, can be very expensive. I recommend reaching out to your local arts and crafts stores and telling them what you are working on; they may be happy to
offer you a discount on your supplies!

Step by Step Drawing Lesson
4) When drawing with the students I remind them frequently that things never look exactly like we have pictured in our minds at the beginning. Part of the fun of art is that there is no such thing as mistakes, just happy accidents. Art is meant to change and evolve as we work on it so let’s enjoy the process of creating!

Step one: Draw a circle, oval or egg shape.

Ask the students to look at their profile picture to help guide the very first shape. If they notice that their dog has a rounder face, they can simply draw a circle to start. If their dog has a flatter top by the ears and their face curves in towards the jaw or jowls, ask them to draw an egg shape or rounded teardrop shape. Once that shape is done they will be ready for measuring in step two.

Step two: Diving the face to map out the features.

Drawing Dog Head 1


For Step Two have your students loosely measure out where the center of their dog’s face is. Have them draw one line going vertically and one going horizontally through the face shape. This will help your students judge where to place the snout of their dog and their dog’s eyes. Some students prefer to be exact in this step. That is great too! If that is the case have those students pull out their ruler and carefully measure out their dog’s face having the lines meet in the middle.

Step 3: The Snout

Drawing Dog Head 2

The snout will go just below the horizontal line. For this part of the lesson, or any part of this generic
head lesson that happens before we add the details that make our dog look like our dog, tell the
students not to worry or fuss too much over this shape. A simple rounded out, upside-down heart
shape, or even just a wide bottom egg shape will work! Next up is the nose.

Step 4: The Nose

The nose can be any one of these shapes: a rectangle with rounded corners, an oval, a rounded out
heart shape, or a circle. Tell your students to look at their dog’s profile photograph and decide which
shape best suits their dog. Remind them that no matter what shape they choose, it will all work out in
the end once we add the nostrils and other details!

Step 5: The chin

drawing dog head 4

This is a simple but very important step! It will help guide the students as to where those fine details
that make their dog unique (a bottom tooth that protrudes out, a tongue that sticks out, tiny bottom
teeth that can be seen in the photo) will go. It also reminds the students of the importance of overlapping
shapes to give an image depth! For the chin have them simply draw a rounded-edged rectangle or a
curved line that stretches from one side of the snout to the other.

Step 6: Eyes

For this step have the students draw two almond-shaped eyes just above the snout, right on the
horizontal line. Have them look at the photograph of their dog and see how much white of the eye can
be seen in the picture. Then, draw two semicircles inside the almond shape.

Step 7: Pupils and nostrils.

Drawing a dog head step 6

Have your students shade in a second circle or semicircle inside of the iris. Then, ask them to draw in the
nostrils. Simple ‘apostrophe’ shapes work well but if they choose to draw tiny ovals or circles that’s fine

Step 8: Ears!

Drawing Dog head 7

This is the one place that will differ greatly from portrait to portrait, but there is no wrong way to draw ears! Ask them to look at their dog’s ears and talk about what shape they see:

  • Do the ears flop down beside the face?
  • Do they stand straight up?
  • Are they shaped like a cone with rounded corners or do the tips of the ears fold down?

Once they add the fur texture, values, and colours the ears will take shape and look just exactly how they should!

Step 9: Fur

Using their wrist in a flicking motion the students can simply explore with mark-making to create the illusion of fur around their dog’s face. They can also use a zig-zag type line around the dog's face similar to what you see in the above sample drawing. Remind the children that they will be adding texture with their paint and paintbrush which will add to the fur later.

Step 10: Mapping out Value.

Drawing Dog Head 9


For this 10th and final step in the generic dog drawing have your students look closely at their adoptable dog’s photograph. Get them to pick out the darkest spots. Where are they? Get them to point out the lightest spots. Where are they? Ask them if there seems to be a light source in the photo? Where is it?

What is it? Then, using their pencils have them map out where the darkest part of the dog’s face is and where the lightest parts are. This will be a tremendous help when it becomes time to paint highlights and shadows with paint!

End of Class Discussion

Ask your students if they enjoyed the structured step by step guidance more or less than the free rein they had when drawing the preliminary sketch during the second Empathy Pawject Class. These answers will be a good piece of formative assessment. It should help you know what kind of artists you have in the class.

If they feel comfortable with a level of freedom to develop their skills or if they feel more comfortable exploring the medium on their own. It will also give you an opportunity to remind them that, much like the goofy and Pluto images shown at the beginning of class, these generic portraits are simply made as a guide and soon, none of the portraits in the class will look anything alike. Just like each dog is wonderfully unique, so will their portraits be!

Please see  How to Draw Goofy and How to Draw Pluto reference images from www.drawingtutorials101.com

Go to PDF for printable file