Mastering the Art of Drawing: A Comprehensive Guide to Sketching a Realistic Snake

Ever wondered how to draw a snake that’s both simple and realistic? Well, you’re in the right place. We’ll guide you through a step-by-step process, making it as easy as possible.

Whether you’re a budding artist or just looking for a fun activity, drawing a snake can be a rewarding experience. With a few simple techniques, you’ll be creating your own slithering masterpiece in no time.

Remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. So grab your sketchpad, let’s get started on your journey to draw a snake.

Key Takeaways

  • Drawing a snake begins with sketching the outline, which includes a simple line for the body, a series of oval shapes for the volume or ‘scales’, the snake’s head depending upon whether it’s venomous or non-venomous, and an indication of the snake’s scales pattern.
  • Adding details and scales is the next important step. Starting from the head to the tail, each scale should be irregular and distinct. Special attention should be paid to the snake’s vertical pupil and its forked tongue for a touch of realism. The snake’s underbelly and hood should also be carefully depicted.
  • Drawing the head and eyes with precision adds character to the snake. The placement, size, shape, and shading of the eyes should be carefully worked on to create a captivating stare.
  • Enhancing realism in the drawing can be achieved through the careful use of shadows. Observing real pictures of snakes can help improve the use of casting shadows, form shadows, and reflected light in the drawing.
  • Final touches to the drawing include focusing on the snake’s skin texture and adding a hint of shine for a glossy appearance. The setting of the drawing and the use of colors can add an extra layer of complexity and appeal to the artwork.
  • Learning to draw a snake, or any other subject, involves a lot of trial and error, refinement, and patience. Practicing regularly is the key to mastering this skill.

Sketching the Outline

Let’s dive straight into Sketching the Outline of your snake drawing. You might find this challenging but remember, patience is key during this stage.

Begin by drawing a simple line that represents the snake’s body. This line doesn’t have to be straight – in fact, it shouldn’t be. Make this line as wavy or curved as you want to represent the snake’s body movement. Keep it light, as this is only a guide, not the final look. Don’t worry about making it perfect – imperfections often add an interesting touch to your drawing.

With the body line ready, you can start adding some volume to your snake. Draw a series of oval shapes along the body’s line. These shapes will represent the snake’s sections or ‘scales’. Make these ovals as uniform as possible but again, they don’t have to be perfect.

Next on your to-do list is outlining the snake’s head. This could be a bit tricky, as it differs from snake to snake. A good rule of thumb is to draw a triangular shape for venomous snakes and a rounded shape for non-venomous ones. But it’s your snake drawing, feel free to give it your personal touch.

Lastly, mark out the orientation of the snake’s scales. These small, diamond-like shapes cover the entire body of the snake. You don’t have to draw each scale individually, just give an indication of their pattern. Regardless of the snake species, their scales always follow a consistent pattern.

You’ve made a great start with the outline of your snake. Proceeding this way ensures you’re taking those small yet significant steps towards creating a well-detailed snake drawing. Let’s move on to the next phase, which is refining this sketch. Get ready to flesh out more details and bring your snake drawing to life.

Adding Details and Scales

Once you’ve sketched the body, scale-up your snake drawing with some intricate details. The scales part might seem challenging initially but it’s easier than it seems. All you need to do is pay close attention and ensure that the scale patterns are consistent.

Go back to the body of your snake. Here, each oval is going to be a scale. Start at the head and work your way down to the tail. Be sure to keep the scales irregular. Making each scale the same creates a robotic effect that lacks character.

For the scales themselves, you have a choice. You can draw them as simple lines, or give them more depth by adding subtle shading or thickening the outlines. Regardless of your choice, keep in mind that the thickness and pattern of the scales can change along the length of the snake’s body.

Capture the unique character of a snake’s eye by paying extra attention to it. The vertical pupil of a snake gives it a unique look and adds a touch of realism to your drawing. Don’t forget the snake’s forked tongue either. Draw it tiny and thin, slithering out from the side of the mouth, adding a real sense of menace.

Switch to the underbelly of the snake. Large, rectangular, smooth scales often mark this area. Contrast this to the smaller, rougher scales that cover the majority of a snake’s body. Your attention to these distinctions will enrich your drawing immensely.

On to the final bit – the snake’s distinct hood. If you’re drawing a cobra, remember to depict its expanded hood. While loaded with detail, don’t shy away. Achieved correctly, this element can be the ultimate show-stopper in your masterpiece.

Through the process, you’ll see your sketch turn into a lifelike snake poised on your canvas. Remember, practice is key and each line, squiggle, and scale you add brings you closer to perfecting your snake artwork. The combination of small yet significant steps is what you see shaping up here. Performing this exercise will prepare you for your next phase – injecting colors into your drawing. Stay tuned for that creative burst.

Drawing the Head and Eyes

Up next on your snake drawing journey, you’ll want to start focusing on the features that add character to your snake; its head and eyes. Drawing the Head and Eyes with precision will give your snake a distinct form and make it appear authentically serpentine. Let’s dive into mastering this pivotal aspect.

Start with the head shape, which is generally oval but can slightly vary depending upon the species. With elegantly subtle changes you can turn this oval into a distinct python’s or viper’s head. Unlike many other animals, a snake’s eyes are quite simple to draw. They are unblinkingly open and characterized by a vertical pupil that creates a captivating stare. Remember that the eyes are almond shaped and lie on the top of the head rather than the sides.

It’s crucial that you observe carefully before you begin to sketch. For correct placement of eyes observe where the line of the mouth intersects the body and try to align the eyes accordingly. Pay particular attention to their size as well, they should be proportionate to the head and body of the snake.

In sketching the eyes, move your pencil with a calm assertiveness, using a single confident stroke for the outline. Take time to shade the almond-shaped eye delicately to create a sense of depth. Fill in the pupil with dark tones, keeping the surrounding iris lighter. This contrast is what makes a snake’s eyes mesmerizing. However, don’t allow the striking eyes to overshadow the task of accurately capturing the muscular and sculpted physique of the snake’s head.

With this, you’re now set with intricate detail regarding the snake’s head and eyes. Adding color or leaving it as a monochromatic marvel, would be the next adventure to embark upon.

Enhancing Realism with Shadows

Diving further into your escapade of snake artistry, let’s tackle the subtle yet striking aspect of shadows. Using this technique, your snake sketch will not only look more detailed but also true to life.

The fascinating thing about shadows in art is the varying effects they can have on your final output. When done right, it’ll bring forth a sense of depth, contrast, and dimension to your drawing. Just a few careful applications, and your snake will seem like it’s slithering off the paper.

Start by observing real pictures of snakes or even a live specimen, if possible. Focus mainly on how light interacts with their scales. You’ll notice these shadow effects:

  1. Casting Shadows: These are darker spaces generated when a portion of the snake’s body blocks light. They might occur under the head, along its coiled body, or beneath the lifted areas.
  2. Form Shadows: These shadows get trapped in the snake’s sculpted features such as its head, muscles, or in between its scales. They change in intensity with the curvature of the body.
  3. Reflected Light: Often mistaken for highlights, it’s the subdued light reflected off nearby surfaces onto the snake. Even in shadows, a snake will have reflected light on its glossy scales.

To execute them, invest in a range of pencils. From softer “B” pencils for deeper shadows and harder “H” pencils for lighter ones, your toolkit is essential.

Start gentle. Too much shadowing can overwhelm the delicate features of a snake. Apply light strokes initially, building them up slowly. It’s easier to darken an area than to lighten it.

Although we haven’t delved into color yet, do remember shadows aren’t black, neither are they grey. They possess hues from the surroundings. For a more realistic touch, emulate the color of the shadows from your reference photos.

Adding Final Touches

Once you’ve mastered the art of applying shadows to your snake drawing, it’s time to focus on adding final touches. This polishing phase is crucial to making your sketch truly leap off the page.

Firstly, consider the texture of the snake’s skin. Unlike other animals, snakes have scales. The meticulous detailing of every single scale can seem intimidating, but with practice, you’ll find it gratifying. Using an extremely sharp pencil, etch in the scales, mimicking the patterns you’ve observed in your references. Remember, consistency is key in this phase.

But that’s not all. Besides the scale pattern, consider the shine of the snake’s skin. Depending on the lighting, a snake’s skin can have a glossy look. To replicate this, you’d leave certain parts of the drawing blank or with very light shading. These blank spaces, carefully placed, give an illusion of a shiny, reflective surface, making your drawing eerier and more realistic.

Just like with shadows, adding texture and shine requires careful observation, time, and patience. You’ll need an array of pencils of different hardness, a sharpener and perhaps, even a few trial runs to get the desired effect.

Lastly, the setting of your drawing can give it that extra oomph. Maybe your snake is slithering through grass or coiled on a tree branch. The surroundings can add an extra layer of complexity and appeal. Here’s where you bring out the big guns — color pencils. By subtly incorporating colors into your sketch, especially for the surroundings, you can create a wholesome, realistic portrayal of a snake in its natural habitat.

So get to work, and remember, making art is more about trial and error, refinement and patience more than anything else. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and learning from them.


You’ve journeyed through the art of drawing a snake, mastering shadows and adding the final touches. It’s clear that a sharp pencil is a key to bring out the intricate details of the snake’s scales. You’ve learned the importance of capturing the glossy shine of the snake’s skin with strategic shading. Incorporating surroundings like grass or tree branches with color pencils can elevate your artwork’s realism. Remember, it’s all about embracing trial and error, refining your work, and having patience. Keep practicing and you’ll find your snake drawings becoming more lifelike with each attempt. Your artistic journey doesn’t end here, it’s just the beginning. Happy drawing!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is it important to add final touches to snake drawings?

Final touches enhance the depth and detail of the drawing. They include applying shadows correctly, perfecting the intricate details of snake scales, and accurately depicting the snake’s shiny skin, all combining for a realistic effect.

2. How does the article suggest creating realistic snake scales?

The article suggests using a sharp pencil to meticulously draw snake scales. Each scale should be carefully shaded for the most realistic effect, depicting the unique texture of a snake’s skin.

3. How can I depict the glossy shine of a snake’s skin?

The shiny gloss of a snake’s skin can be replicated by strategic shading. Attention must be paid to the light source which influences the shine and shadow on the skin. Mastering this can add an impressive realistic touch to your drawings.

4. What role does the surroundings play in drawing a snake?

Incorporating surroundings like grass or tree branches can enhance the overall realism. It helps the viewer perceive the environment where the snake resides. It could be depicted using color pencils for added effect.

5. What is the importance of trial and error in the artistic process?

Trial and error is a key aspect of the artistic process. It allows you to learn from mistakes and improve your technique. The article emphasizes patience and continuous refinement to accurately portray the subject.