Problem: Drawing Antlers is Hard
I love drawing antlers in my sketch notes to frame a quote or concept but, let’s be real, antlers are really hard to draw freehand.
I’ve been trying to intentionally practice how to draw antlers and floral laurels lately because of previous not-great results- and antlers are definitely a tough thing to draw. Without penciling and erasing a few times, my antlers usually ended up looking pretty rough, like the antlers in these sketchnotes below.
Solution: Figuring out How to Draw Deer Antlers
A staple of hipster design, I wanted to get better at drawing antlers. If I used a pencil they turn out okay, but if I freestyled them with my sharpie pen (how I take notes in class- no pencils allowed!) sometimes they turned out a hot mess! How to fix? Practice. I’m still using pencils for this work right now, but I’m hoping after a few dozen more penciled versions and I’ll be more proficient at drawing antlers with ink on a first try.
As I was practicing drawing antlers, I realized I was working out a pretty consistent method that might work for other amateur artists as well.
My step by step method for drawing antlers:
This method works equally well for antlers attached to a sketched or doodled deer or deer trophy, or in laurel form as a frame for a quote or words. For moose or elk antlers, follow the same method but in step three use more generous curves.
Step 1: Start by Drawing an Oval
For antlers in a laurel wreath shape, start by lightly drawing an oblong circle with a pencil- I’m using a purple felt tip marker to make my instructions stand out. Make the oval slightly taller than it is wide.
Step 2: Draw Offshoots
Still working in pencil, next draw short and widely spaced lines off-shooting the main circle. Add 2 sideways “V’s” at the top to mark the tips of the antlers and add two marks at the bottom to mark the bottom of each antler.
For best results, repeat placements of offshoots on each side. This will create a more symmetrical looking antler rack.
Step 3: Outline the Antlers
3. Next, add an outline. I advise doing the first few in pencil till you get the hang of it, then this step should be done in pen/ink.
Bbegin adding a line around the lines you penciled in step one and two. Follow the contours but make sure your lines are smooth and curved, never sharp angles. To me it’s like my original line was a long uninflated balloon artist’s balloon and I’m drawing the shape of the long balloon slightly inflated. Try to maintain a uniform antler width, with tapering ends.
Step 4: Erase Pencil
If you did step 3 in pencil, go over the outer pencil line with ink and allow the ink to dry before erasing all pencil marks. Once erased, you should be left with a clean outline.
Step 5: Practice!
Repeat, repeat, repeat, and play! The older I get, the more I believe the adage “practice makes perfect” applies to art and creative pursuits. The more you practice doodling them in your spare time, on scrap paper, or when you’re loosely paying retention to something else, the better you’ll be at sketching out a beautiful pair of doodled antlers on demand!
Drawing Doodled Antlers vs Sketching
I consider myself a doodler and above I demonstrated a method for creating cartoonish antlers, but the method works equally well for sketching out the framework for more realistically finished drawings. The image below shows the same method, start to finish, using graphite.
Once you are comfortable with this method, try new things, such as drawing antlers only halfway up the circle to create the rack of a young buck, drawing your oval as a loop, so antlers cross at the bottom, or attaching them to a deer or doodled deer trophy.
You can use multiple shades of grey art markers to add depth and shading to your antlers, as shown below (learn more about using grey art markers tan depth and shading in my how to article).
Drawing Leaf Laurel Wreaths
Laurel wreaths are (one of) my recent doodling obsessions. Although I’m working my way through Umoto’s Drawing Cute Animal Illustration Book, I keep coming back to laurels in my sketchnotes and on the scrap pages in my notebook that I doodle on when a speaker is reviewing, answering questions, or telling stories.
In my doodle notes and bullet journal layouts, I freehand laurels to fit in the space allotted. However, when I’m brainstorming new laurels, like these pages, I generally start by penciling in 6 or 8 evenly spaced, equally sized circles very lightly on my page, then using the lower half of the circle to guide placement and spacing for my laurel wreaths. The pencil marks are easily erased completely after the inked laurels are dry.
Laurels work great in bullet journals and sketch notes to frame quotes. They are are also one of my favorite ways to address an envelope!
Laurels can be tough to freehand, but I have a solution, read on for my simple trick.
Hack for How to Draw Laurel Wreaths
Laurels are a frequent feature in my sketchnotes, graphic recording, and bullet journal layouts. In this post I show you one super easy trick to generate beautiful laurels time after time, with consistently even and balanced branches. This same method works for balancing the antler laurels described above.
In my pen case I keep this template tucked into a back pocket. If I need to create two identical laurel wreaths or produce a laurel that’s more balanced than my random doodle is likely to be, I whip this template out and lightly trace around it on my paper- with the pencil I keep in my pen case art kit– before inking in the laurel branches on top of it.
MAKE YOUR OWN by tracing a laurel you like, folding the piece of paper in half down the middle of your design, and cutting the shape out. It tucks neatly into my favorite pen case. The template holds up to use best if you then transfer the shape to a heavier cardstock-type paper. Or just download, print, and cutout the free PDF template below:
Free Printable Template for Drawing Easy Laurel Wreath Bullet Journal Accents:
Lindsayanne is a professional artist, writer, and serial-DIY-er with a knack for solving problems creatively at home, in the studio, out in the garden, and even online. Learn more about Lindsay, her training, and her background here.