In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a mule that looks cute and appealing in just seven easy steps. You will have the opportunity to create fun effects like shadows and reflections using mostly basic shapes. This cartoon mule can be tricky to illustrate (especially the legs), but simply follow all steps carefully and everything will be fine! Ready? Let's proceed with the first step now ...
First, it's a good practice to create a basic template using simple shapes to help us draw the subject. This template can help you work on proportions and place the character in your work space. For this cartoon mule, you can start by drawing oval shapes for the head, body and ear. The neck and the legs are made from thin rectangles.
Now that we have a few basic shapes to work with, let's draw the silhouette of the animal. You can use long curved lines to form the head, the ear, the body, the neck, the legs and the tail. Small curved lines are added to illustrate the knees and the nose. Don't forget to create hooves using thin lines. The basic shapes created previously are not needed anymore. You can erase them.
On top of the head, sketch the mane using short curved lines. Another ear is created using a triangular shape. Finally, complete this step with the addition of both legs located on the far side of the picture.
Using perfect circles, you can draw a pupil and one eye inside the head. You can also sketch a short line to form the mouth. The nose is done using another small circle. A long line is used to create a patch near the nose. You can also draw small patches inside the ears.
The drawing aspect of this lesson on how to draw a mule is now completed. However, we can definitely do more to create a more appealing version of this character. First, let's add colors using gradients. For this lesson, our cartoon animal is mostly filled with blue and gray colors. Gradients are nice because they allow you to create depth quickly and easily as you can see below.
Another simple thing we can do to create more volume inside this image is to draw shadows. These new shapes are usually slightly darker and slightly transparent. Don't forget that the result must be subtle. Strong shadows are definitely not appropriated for this cute cartoon character.
You can draw new shadows around the eye, on the ear located behind the head and near the bottom of the body. More shadows are also added on both legs located behind the body. You can see all new additions below (surrounded by a temporary pink outline).
In this step, instead of drawing dark shapes to create subtle shadows, let's work on bright elements to represent highlights. All three additions found below are colored in white. Just like we did for shadows, you must play with the opacity of these new shapes.
I hope you had fun learning how to draw a mule filled with cool shadows and highlights. Now that you are more familiar with this fun creature, don't hesitate to sketch more adorable versions. You can play with postures, colors, effects or even add some textures.
Above, you can see all steps grouped into a single illustration. Now that this lesson is completed, feel free to try more cute cartoon animals from the same series here. Have fun drawing! :)