Camels have an unmistakable silhouette, with their humped back, short tail, long, slim legs, and a neck that dips downward and rises to a small, narrow head. The English word ‘camel’ is thought to derive from the Arabic word ‘jamāl’, which means ‘handsome’ or ‘beauty’. What an apt name for this admirable animal!
Camels efficiently adapted to the harsh conditions of their habitat; for this reason, they are called “the ships of the desert”.
In this tutorial, we’ll learn what distinctive features allow camels to be capable, strong, and endurable. And, of course, we’ll create a couple of beautiful drawings!
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In order to complete this project, you’ll need the following equipment:
an HB graphite pencil
a 3B graphite pencil
1. How to Draw the Dromedary Camel
The dromedary, also known as the Arabian camel, inhabits the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.
Dromedaries have only one hump, but they do employ it to great effect; their humps store up to 80 pounds of fat, which a camel can break down into water and energy when sustenance is scarce. Humps give camels their legendary ability to travel up to 100 desert miles without water.
We’ll depict the dromedary camel in a side view. With the HB graphite pencil, I outline a rough shape of the head; it resembles a triangle with smoothed angles.
I also add the shapes of the ear and the eye.
I draw a curved line for the camel’s neck, marking its general direction. Please be sure to leave enough space for the rest of the body on the sheet of paper.
Then I add an oblong shape for the camel’s body.
Let’s draw the framework of the long legs, adding one segment at a time. First, I outline the upper parts of the limbs; they are divided into portions to make the task easier.
I present the joints as circles—the simpler, the better.
I add the lower parts of the limbs; they are more slender compared to the upper ones.
I complete the framework with the rough shapes of the feet.
I refine the neck, giving it some thickness with a contour.
I add a sketchy shape of the hump to the camel’s back.
Now I draw the line of its tail; camels have relatively short tails.
Let’s work on the facial features of our camel—and explore why they are perfectly suited to the desert environment.
Although camels have relatively small heads, their eyes are large and prominent. They enable the animal to see for long distances.
A protruding ridge of bone and bushy eyebrows protect the eyes from the hot sun. There are also two sets of long eyelashes in addition to a third thin ‘eyelid’; together, they serve as a defense from the sand.
I draw the eye, making it as contrasting and expressive as possible (don’t forget about the highlight), and the ear. The ears are quite small, almost indiscernible from a distance.
Camels have nostrils lined with hairs that stop any sand from entering the nose. What’s more, they can shut their nostrils at will!
Their lips are thick and protruding; the upper lip is split into two sections that move independently. It’s another form of adaptation—thick, rubbery lips allow them to eat prickly desert plants without feeling pain. In fact, most of the water that camels take in comes from grazing on the thorny bushes that grow in a desert.
I refine the contour of the camel’s back, erasing the unnecessary lines. I add some new features of the tail, too—now it is tufted near the end.
Also, I mark some skinfolds on the neck to make the sketch more credible.
I refine the upper parts of the limbs. The dromedary has callosities (thick, hardened skin) on the joints of the legs and on the chest, upon which it rests in a kneeling position. They enable the animal to withstand the heat of the desert sand.
Now I refine the lower parts of the limbs, accenting the elbows and knees. Each foot has broad, flat, leathery pads with two toes. When a camel places its foot on the ground, the pads spread so that the foot does not sink in the sand.
The outline is complete, but we can make our drawing more realistic. With the HB pencil, I apply some hatching, accenting the darker areas, such as the core shadows on the legs and the abdomen.
The hair is concentrated on the throat, the shoulders, and the hump; I create an illusion of this texture with longer or curvy hatches.
As a finishing touch, I add a hint at a drop shadow under the animal; it’s also possible to blend it with a special blending stump, a cotton bud, or just a clean, dry fingertip.
With the 3B pencil, I accentuate the darker areas on the camel’s body and increase the contrast in general. The drawing of the dromedary camel is complete!
2. How to Draw the Bactrian Camel
In contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel, the Bactrian camel has two humps on its back. Its population inhabits Central Asia, including the historical region of Bactria.
The Bactrian camel is also the largest mammal in its native range and is the largest living camel. Actually, the Arabian and the Bactrian camels share many features, so we can speed up the drawing process.
I mark the camel’s head, and then add the shape of the body nearby.
I join the head and body with a line.
In fact, the silhouette of the Bactrian camel’s neck is usually slightly different—the curve is more accentuated, compared to the neck of the dromedary.
I also mark the eye and the ear of the camel.
I add the contour lines of the neck and the rough shapes of two humps on the back, and mark the tail line.
I add the framework of the limbs, just in the same manner as we were drawing the dromedary camel.
I refine the contour of the camel’s body, erasing the subsidiary graphite lines.
The facial features need some attention, too—let’s draw a happy camel with a hint at a smile!
The Bactrian camel has long, slender legs, but its body forms a stouter, heavier impression than the body of the dromedary.
The feet are very tough—it’s another adaptive feature; these camels are migratory, and their habitat ranges from rocky mountain massifs to flat desert, stony plains, and sand dunes. The Bactrians are designed for extreme environments!
The feet have undivided soles and two broad toes on each foot.
I enhance the sketch with the HB graphite hatching, darkening the sides of the humps and the underside of the body. The Bactrians have long hair on the neck and throat (a ‘mane’ and ‘beard’).
The long, wooly coat protects the Bactrians from extreme cold (as low as −40 °C in winter) and is shed in warmer months. By the way, the most satisfactory camel fiber is gathered particularly from the Bactrian camels.
With the 3B pencil, I increase the contrast in the drawing. I also make subtle changes to the contour line of the camel’s body, making it more ‘hairy’ to imitate the shorter, slimmer undercoat.
Your Drawing Are Complete
Congratulations! You’ve created two beautiful drawings and, hopefully, learned a lot about camels.
May your further creative journey be full of joy and inspiration! If you enjoyed this tutorial, you may also be interested in these: