How To Make a Perfect Snake Drawing?

One of the most popular reptiles, if not the most popular animal, is the snake. With no legs or distinguishable specific muscles, they are regarded as being extremely simple. What could possibly go wrong with just a head (no ears! ), a rib cage, and a tail? A wonderful time!

I have written a tutorial on how to draw snakes, so welcome to the ideal world of animal sketching! Grab your best pencil or brush because I'm going to teach you how to realistically depict both deadly and nonpoisonous snakes, as well as their scales and patterns.

Instead of concentrating on a single species, we'll look at the methods required to sketch any section of any kind of snake. You should be able to sketch the majority of snake species with ease after using this guide.

I) Snake body

1) Basic anatomy

Let's begin by reviewing the anatomy and parts of a snake. We often assume that snakes are largely made up of a long tail, but in reality, a snake's body is primarily made up of a long chest (also known as its backbone), and this can be clearly seen on its shed.
snake-drawing
The seemingly innocent notion that a snake's tail makes up the majority of its body results in completely incorrect snake drawings. Even though snakes are among the most straightforward animals, depictions of them still show a lack of understanding of their structure.
snake-drawing
It is better to picture them as a string of beads rather than as a snake's continuously tapering tail since this image more accurately captures their shape. This shape is more similar to the snake's true body, which is made up of bent ribs.
snake-drawing
"Neck beads" start off slightly narrower than "chest beads" then they gradually get smaller. On the other hand, if you imagine a snake as merely a lengthy tail, you might imagine a severe taper along its whole length.
snake-drawing
The size of the "neck" and "chest" segments between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae varies depending on the species. Some people won't even have a neck, while others will be so tiny that their chest won't be visible.

Without concentrating on the species, a snake drawing won't appear right. Keep in mind that snakes don't always have to be razor-sharp; occasionally, they might appear chubby and ungainly.
snake-drawing

snake-drawing

Making 3D postures is made much easier by using the "string of pearls" technique. You can substitute cubes for the balls if you have problems visualizing the sides.

By placing more circles in between the ones that form the stance, you may make the 3D relatively simple to sketch. In this manner, the sides will be simpler to define and you will have a notion of the volume.
snake-drawingWhat about the renowned snake hoods, which are frequently seen in king cobras? They are essentially a snake's flattened body supported by erect ribs.

This implies that the hood's width cannot be as broad as you would like it to be because it depends on the body's typical width.

2) Types of movement

To create a believable pose, we need to know how the snakes move.

A) SNAKE MOVEMENT

The classic movement of a snake. The animal uses its solid body to push on the terrain's crimps or simply uses the terrain as a whole, if it is rough enough to create resistance.

snake-drawing

B) CONCERTINA MOVEMENT

The movement where the snake bends and expands regularly, like an accordion. Snakes use this method when climbing or crossing narrow tunnels.

snake-drawing

C) CATERPILLAR MOVEMENT

This movement works similarly to a vertical accordion movement. A slight horizontal concertina can also occur during this movement.

snake-drawing

D) LATERAL MOVEMENT

This method is very effective on slippery or hot surfaces (like the desert). The snake pushes itself with a rocking motion of the raised coils, causing it to move somewhat laterally.

snake-drawing

3) How to draw a snake's head

A) SHAPE

Step 1

I will show you three views of the snake's head at the same time: side (1), front (2) and top (3). This way you can easily compare them to understand this 3D shape.

Start with a flattened ball. In addition to the center line, there should also be a line placed at one third of the diameter.

snake-drawing

Step 2

Next we need to define the jaws and cheeks. The arrows in the diagram below show you the flow of this shape.

snake-drawing

Step 3

Add another larger ball behind the main one at the base of the skull. This way we will properly elongate the skull.
snake-drawingHow big should this second bullet be? As a general rule, venomous snakes (the green mamba) have more triangular heads, with a clear neck tip point, so you will want a much larger second ball.

Non-venomous snakes (the garter snake) generally have narrower heads, so the second ball only needs to be a little wider.

snake-drawing

Step 4

You can now easily outline the shape.

snake-drawing

Step 5

The eyes are placed near the narrower end of the skull.

snake-drawing

Step 6

Now it will smile! The snake's smile, or mouth rather, should be wide and well defined. Also add small holes in the nose.

snake-drawing

Step 7

With all the guide lines, you can easily sketch the remaining contours. Don't forget a small hole between the lips that lets the tongue slip out without opening the mouth!

snake-drawing

Step 8

If you're adding a bottom view to your snake, use the top view circles to create the bottom one, and just forget the eyes and nose.

snake-drawing

B) BALANCE

If you're not happy with just redrawing the scales randomly and want to remember the rules about their placement, here are some tips.

Keep in mind that not all snakes are the same and their scales can also vary. What I am showing you is a general pattern, especially common for non-venomous species.

Step 1

Let's start with the mostly vertical lines. There is one just below the eye, two on the sides, and three more near the nose (look at all the views to understand exactly what you are drawing, so you can remember it more easily).

snake-drawing

snake-drawing

Step 2

Now let's move to the horizontal. Draw a line from the nose to the eye, then divide it into four new lines. The front of the head also needs some minor adjustments.

snake-drawing

snake-drawing

Step 3

Now the back of the head. Just behind it, rows of regular scales begin.

snake-drawing

snake-drawing

Step 4

The bottom view of the head needs a different treatment:

snake-drawing

Step 5

If you don't want to learn all these arrows by heart, here is a colorful diagram for you. Again, keep in mind that every snake is different and you can modify these shapes accordingly.

snake-drawing

Step 6

Heat-sensitive pits can be seen on the skulls of venomous snakes (and certain non-venomous snakes, like pythons, have them rather noticeably). These pits are located at the top of the cheekbones.

You might think of these as scale-covered huge nose openings. They could be in a line on the top or lower lip and someplace around the nose (not necessarily everywhere at once, as shown below). They provide the snake the ability to detect temperature using infrared light to find warm bodies of its victims.

Like the rest of their bodies, the heads of venomous snakes also feature thinner, tighter scales. Since they are frequently fairly chaotic, these are simpler to sketch. You may define the snake's hostile image by making the head less "smooth" and adding prominent eyebrows and large nostrils.

snake-drawing

C) EYES

Time to delve into the specifics. The pupils of venomous snakes are often slit, while those of non-venomous snakes are typically spherical. Although their own eyes are spherical, a "brow" scale might make them appear sharper. Use it for a sinister appearance!
snake-drawing-eye
The snake's eye region and eyes feature a stunning color pattern. In fact, as long as you maintain the round form and the proper pupil, everything you can think will look good on your species.

snake-drawing-eye

D) JAWS

Snakes have the most intriguing animal jaw structure (with the possible exception of the moray eel). Start out slowly. To prevent the snake from biting (snakes are not actually immune to their own poison! ), the fangs (if present with snake venom) must first be curled inward.
snake-drawingSecond, there is a bone (maxilla) that connects the upper and lower jaws in a relaxed manner. The jaws can move extremely widely as a result.

Vipers and other snakes with long, sharply curved fangs have the ability to "retract" those fangs by bending the tip of the mouth so that it is more straight.
snake-drawing-crane
Not only that, but each jaw is separated into two parts that may move independently thanks to an elastic ligament connecting them. It is recently known that snakes may ingest prey that is far larger than their heads!

snake-drawing-skull

E) DETAILS

Let's take a good look at a close-up of the head:

  • Fangs: sharp as needles, often covered with a thick gum. Only venomous snakes have them!
  • The Venom Channel: venom flows from its gland through a hollow hook. It can then be transferred into the prey's body when bitten. Some species are able to spit venom through the fangs.
  • Glottis: a hole that is part of the respiratory system. It allows the snake to breathe when swallowing and is also capable of creating a hissing sound.
  • Tongue: long, thin (but not flat) and shiny. A snake uses it to "lick" the air, so it is used as an additional sense. To process "taste", the tongue must touch a special organ inside the mouth, hence the sliding in and out. The tip is forked to create two independent tips, each receiving a slightly different signal from its side (just like two eyes). The pose shown below is impossible, because the tongue only comes out of its sheath when the mouth is closed.
  • Cheeks: these powerful muscles control the movement of the jaws. Draw them as they should be, thick and strong.

snake-drawing-head

II) Scales and patterns

The simplicity of the snake ends where there are scales. The brave artist must now be patient and draw all the scales one by one, then shade them in the same way.

No, I'm not going to show you a magic method to avoid the work, but I will show you how not to waste that time by ending up with a flat pattern.

1) Scale structure

The design of the scales all around the head has already been sketched out and described. Beyond it, familiar scales that are very regular occur in orderly rows.

The entire back and sides are covered in dorsal scales, while the belly is entirely covered in ventral scales, which are large, elongated plates that run parallel to the body.

They can be either wider than the body (encompassing the belly's whole width) or narrower. They might not be noticed from the side if they are narrower.
snake-drawing-headThere is, of course, a boundary between the belly and the tail. The anal plate serves to define it (colloquially speaking, the ass of a snake, the sacrum). Here, poisonous (left) and non-venomous (right) species show how things could appear slightly differently:

  • The scales under the tail of venomous snakes are located right behind the one anal plate that they have.
  • Non-venomous snakes separate their scales by sliding the anal plate.

snake-drawing-tailIt's not hard to draw the scales themselves; you've undoubtedly seen the mini-tutorial in the image below.

We've all been there: cross a few lines, they draw the scales between them. We need to alter this approach because it produces extremely flat laying scales.
snake-drawing-motifHere are the stages you must follow to make your scales realistically fit the snake's body.

STEP 1

The trick is to bend the initial line a little, in a direction opposite to the two halves. So instead of drawing a slanted line, just draw an elongated S (or full symbol), and cross it with its reflected reflection.

snake-drawing

snake-drawing-body

STEP 2

The other lines should copy the first. Simply repeat this pattern of shallow curved lines along the body of the snake.

snake-drawing-body

STEP 3

Now that the scales have been drawn on the mesh, you can see that they get smaller as you move closer to the edge, giving the body of a 3D snake the impression of receding scales.
snake-drawing-bodyHowever, when it comes to the snake's body curvature, this procedure becomes very difficult. Here is a fix for that issue. At first, it could look confusing, but if you try drawing it, you'll understand how it works:

  • Draw the guides with the usual method on the straight parts.
  • Draw a set of parallel lines between the pink line of A and the blue line of B.
  • Do the same between the blue line A and the pink line B.
  • If you have done this correctly, the scales should now follow the curve. The tightening of the lines inside the curve should now look natural.

snake-drawing-body

2) Texture

In general, there are two distinct types of scales: smooth (1) and squared (2). Smooth scales are shiny (but not wet) and generally rounder than keeled scales, which have a rougher appearance and are sharper.
snake-drawing-scaleThere is a special type of keel-shaped scales, raised in a way that makes them appear spiky.

snake-drawing-scale

The scales are not connected to each other, but only to the skin. Therefore, when the skin is stretched (3-when swallowing a large prey or even when moving), the scales move away from each other.

In some less slender snakes, the scales are placed tightly on the head and neck (1), and some distance separates them along their body (2).

snake-drawing-scale

3) Patterns

Once the scales issue has been resolved, you can give your snake some color.  There are countless variations of patterns!

Snakes openly display their bodies to the world, proclaiming how dangerous they are and that they are not something to play with, in contrast to other creatures who choose bland colors to blend into their surroundings.

Last but not least, you can employ vibrant, rich hues without deviating from realism. Here are the color schemes that work well.

A) PLAIN

This can be a base for a pattern or just a pattern alone. Use the color of your choice for the entire body.

snake-drawing-plain

The variation on this pattern is to mix it gently with other colors. You can make the head darker or the belly lighter, whatever you want.

snake-drawing-plain

B) RINGS

Rings go around the body. They can be plain or multicolored (stripes with borders).

snake-drawing-ring

Cross bands are a variation of the rings. They also go around the body, but without crossing the belly.

snake-drawing-ring

C) SPOTS

These are small colored spots on individual scales.

snake-drawing-spots

D) STRIPES

They run along the body, straight and even.

snake-drawing-stripes

E) SPOTS

These can be very irregular, of different sizes, randomly placed on the body.
snake-drawing-spotsAlmost all patterns allow for a variation of contrasting borders.

F) DIAMOND

These are diamond shaped spots, placed regularly, with contrasting borders.
snake-drawing-diamonds

That's it!

We discovered today that drawing snakes is more difficult than you might expect. These lovely creatures deserve some love because they are frequently feared and despised by people.

Draw a snake occasionally to switch things up from drawing adorable puppies and kittens. You'll only see an increase in dexterity!