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With such a brief online tutorial I can't help you much with the actual drawing part of the Celtic animals. There are some things after you get the general shape of your animal done that you can do to turn your animal Celtic though, which we'll cover here. If you're enjoying these tutorials, don't forget that you can get a collected workbook edition in both an instant PDF downloable eBook edition, as well as a coil bound print edition! These working copies have much more information than these online versions do, more explanations, examples, exercises to work through... become a Celtic art master!

For deeper instruction on Animals, please visit my Aon Apprenticeship page, where you'll see both in-depth programs I offer to learn all about Celtic Zoomorphics... including Dragons and the Celtic Tree of Life!


To start, I usually draw a blob version of my animal, to block out where the shapes will be, where the head will bend around to, where the body lies, and where the legs will end up. I usually leave the drawing of the ears, tongues, tails and feathers until the main body is finished, and then I use the various extra bits to fill in the gaps, depending on what type of animal it is. The following information is intended to give you an idea of what to do with your Celtic Bird when you have the general shape blocked in, and how they are most commonly seen in manuscripts, etc. There are many different ways to treat your Celtic Bird though, so this information is meant to be more of a guide than a rule book. You should feel free to put your own personal swing on your Celtic animals, and to personalize them!

The Body

Celtic Lions are made very similar to the Celtic Hound, so far as body shape goes.

The body is drawn with the edge or border as shown above. This border usually ends on the legs at about the elbow/knee point and the neck, where it is shown either as a blunt or rounded end. The border is not usually drawn on the leg furthest from the viewer.

The Head

The head is usually looking back over the body, although facing forward or backwards in acceptable. I find that when she is facing backwards it's easier to fit it into a shaped area, as in the rectangular shape I made her fit here. If the image is free form on the page then she can face either way.

The mane is drawn as shown, usually covering the whole neck of the Lion. The mane can be drawn with little nubs on the ends as well, as seen in my painting Antique Celtic Lions. You can always tell if it is a Lion by the mane, and usually the muzzle is shorter on the Lion as well, as compared to the Hound, and the Lion usually has three little dots on the cheek as whiskers.

More information on drawing the head/face can be found below.

The Legs

The legs in the front and back bend as you'd expect, with a hip/shoulder, knee/elbow, and ankle/wrist joints shown, although not always used. Due to the ways you have to contort the hound to make her fit, sometimes not all the joints are used, or more joints are added, which is fine.

Usually two of each leg are shown, but it all right to have only one of each of the front and back legs, or you can have one front leg and two back legs. Depending on the space you have to fit them in, decide which is best for your picture. One back leg and two front legs is hardly ever done, and looks a little odd, so it's best avoided in most cases. The back leg that is furthest from the viewer is always forward of the other leg, as shown above. If a back leg needs to be extended back behind the animal, it is always the leg that is closest to the viewer.

The back leg furthest from the viewer never has decoration on it, only on the leg closest to the viewer. Decoration can either be triple dots on the hip, colored bands on the thigh, or two bands of color separated by a patterned design, such as knots, maze patterns, or triple dots, as shown here.

Toes are either drawn in threes or twos, and you should try to have the same number of toes on the front and back feet of your Lion.

Extended Bits

The parts that are extended and knotted in the case of the Lion are the tail and tongue. The neck is often elongated as well, and so are the legs, but usually not to the complex extent as the tail and tongue. The Lion is often depicted with her tongue lolling out, and knotted around her body.

The extended bits on the Lion should follow the same pattern as a regular knot, going over and under her legs, body, and other extended bits.

The Face

To draw the head of the Lion, first start with an oval shape, with a little tail on the bottom of one corner. It should look almost like a talk balloon in a comic.

Next you want to add your muzzle shape, which should come off the oval nearly level with the top. The muzzle of the Lion can be drawn just like that of the Hound, except that it is shorter. The muzzle piece attaches through to the neck of the Lion, making a throat. Nearly all the animals have a throat, except for example the Bird, where the beak attaches to the oval part and not to the neck at all.

Now add the back of the neck to the head of your Lion.

Add the eye and nose markings. The eye can be either drawn with the "deer in the headlights" look as shown here, or else can be shown looking forward as shown in the Hound Panel. Whisker marks are drawn in the oval as triple dots on her cheek.

Scoop the ear out from the oval shape, flush with the top. The mouth is added in the muzzle area, and is usually drawn as an open mouth so you can draw the tongue coming from it in the next step. I usually like to make the chin a bit shorter too at this point, because I think it looks better, but that's just a matter of taste.

Then the tongue is added, and the border markings are added to the neck, where they would continue down through the body.

All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current