Illustrated Recipes

Drawing Animal Characters in My Illustrated Recipes

Drawing animal characters in pen and ink - Rudolf's Mince Pie Cookies Illustrated recipe by Sophie Peanut
Painting the mince pie cookies recipe in watercolour

When I’ve tried drawing animal characters, I never been happy with the results. So my recipes have stayed clear of animals. Here’s how a hen, a reindeer and a family of rabbits have crept in!

Learning new skills

I like to learn about other artists’ approach. It helps me find new ideas I can integrate in my drawings. When I heard about Lynne Chapman’s online class how to create expressive picture book characters, I couldn’t wait to take it.

The class is excellent. It demonstrates how to draw both people and animal characters. Lynne is very enthusiastic and I wanted to draw animal characters right away.

First shot at drawing animal characters

Drawing Animal Characters - Some Reindeer sketches in pencil by Sophie Peanut
Some of my many reindeer sketches for Rudolph in the mince pie cookies recipe

I wanted to draw a seasonal recipe for Christmas and I chose a Mince Pie Cookies recipe. Drawing a reindeer character was tricky. I made lots of pencil sketches before I had a version of Rudolph I was happy with. I didn’t manage to complete the recipe before Christmas. Come January, I abandoned Rudolph and started on a different seasonal recipe.

Brioche des rois illustration in pen and watercolour - Sophie Peanut
Brioche des rois illustration – notice the sneaky hen at the top!

Brioche des Rois is popular for Epiphany and I couldn’t drawing (and baking) the recipe. I hadn’t planned on any animal characters in this but a chicken crept in. Encouraged by the result I went back to my reindeer illustration and finished it.

Mince Pie Cookies Illustrated in Pen and watercolour by Sophie Peanut
My completed illustration for mince pie cookies!

A family of rabbits

Keen too keep drawing animal characters, I drew a vegetarian lasagne recipe cooked by a family of rabbits!

Drawing animal characters - Rabbit sketches by Sophie Peanut
Some of my rabbit character sketches – you can see how the characters evolved as I kept on sketching.   I  first drew a hedgehog but changed my mind.
Vegetable Lasagne illustrated recipe by Sophie Peanut
The completed Vegetable Lasagna illustrated recipe with my rabbit characters

What I learned about drawing animal characters

Drawing animal characters isn’t hard. It takes practice though. Here are a five points that helped me get started. They might help you too!

  1. Look at pictures of the animals. It will help you find distinctive features (i.e. long ears, whiskers. Nose and feet shapes are important too). Make a sketch or two if you like.
  2. Start simple. Two circles for the head and body and a basic snowman shape is all you need. Once you have the basic shape, build the features you singled out in your research.
  3. Use the eyebrows and mouth shapes to express feelings and mood. The facial expressions will help you tell the story.
  4. Use accessories to bring you characters to life. Notice the neckerchief on the reindeer and the bow and clothing on the rabbits.
  5. Practice, practice and practice.

One Comment to “Drawing Animal Characters in My Illustrated Recipes”

  1. Caroline metcalfe

    Good evening Sophie
    My name is Caroline Metcalfe, and I have written a children’s poetry storybook, I am looking for an illustrator for it with a view to self-publishing eventually. I wondered if this is something that would be of interest to you, or whether it’s something that you do?
    I am based in Diggle Saddleworth, so not that far from yourself. It might be easier if you have 5 minutes I could let you know the outline of the book.

    Anyway, thank you for reading this, and hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind regards

    Caroline Metcalfe


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