Learn How to Draw a Realistic Emperor Penguin Adult and Its Chick Step by Step

Photo of Emperor Penguins

Photo: Gentoo/DepositPhotos

Not many animals can survive the brutal temperatures and harsh landscape of Antarctica, but the incredible emperor penguins make it work. This striking flightless bird is the largest species of penguin native to the icy continent and one of Earth's most fascinating creatures. So, it’s only natural to want to pay homage to this incredible bird, and what better way to do that than through art?

Follow along to learn how to draw an emperor penguin adult and an emperor penguin chick in pencil, before going over the illustration in pen. All you'll need to begin is a pencil, eraser, pen, and some paper. Ready to get started? Then let's draw a penguin!

 

Learn How to Draw a Realistic Penguin Step by Step

 

Step 1: Draw an oval

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Begin by sketching one large oval to create the body of the penguin.

 

Step 2: Add the legs

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Next, add two semi-rectangular legs at the bottom of the oval.

 

Step 3: Sketch the toes

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Add three oval toes to each leg to make the feet.

 

Step 4: Add the tail

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Then, sketch a wide, triangular tail that swoops in between the penguin's legs. You might need to add another line to the back of the oval to change the shape of the body somewhat.

 

Step 5: Draw the beak

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

After focusing on the lower half of the penguin, we're going to take our pencil to the upper half and lightly sketch an arch shape extending from the top of the oval. This will be the beak.

 

Step 6: Finish the head

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Finish the head using a couple of soft round arches, making sure it appears more almond-shaped than round.

 

Step 7: Sketch a wing

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Next, add one, long slender wing about a quarter of the way down the oval, ending near the start of the legs.

 

Step 8: Sketch the coloration

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Penguins have a distinct tuxedo-like coloration. So, using a couple of reference photos of emperor penguins, lightly draw the outline of where this black-and-white pattern will be.

 

Step 9: Refine the drawing

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Afterward, clean up the sketch by erasing any unnecessary lines and refining the illustration. Feel free to fill in the black areas with light pencil shading to remember where you will have to go over in ink.

 

Step 10: Go over it in ink

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Next, you can go over the drawing in ink. Find your pen of choice, such as a multiliner, and carefully trace over all of the desired pencil lines. Wait until you've traced everything before you fill in any large black areas, otherwise, you may risk smudging the ink on the rest of the paper. Once you're done, you can either leave the drawing as is or move on to the tutorial below to add an emperor penguin chick to the drawing.

(If you want to add a baby penguin to your illustration before you start inking, then skip this step and start the tutorial below this one.)

 

How to Draw a Baby Penguin

 

Step 1: Draw an oval

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

To draw the body of a baby penguin, you'll once again sketch a large oval. This one should be about half the size of the adult penguin.

 

Step 2: Add the feet

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Next, we're going to add the feet. So, add one circle to the bottom of the oval, creating the leg that is facing the viewer. Then, draw three long, oval toes poking out from the bottom of the oval.

 

Step 3: Sketch a wing

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Afterward, sketch a long wing that is nearly as long as the entire oval.

 

Step 4: Start the neck

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Next, move your pencil to the top half of the oval, and draw one arch on the right side, and one short, straight line on the left side to create the neck.

 

Step 5: Finish the head

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Then, finish the head of the baby penguin by using more rounded lines. The beak should be an almond shape.

 

Step 6: Sketch the outline of the coloration

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Now it is time to fill in the body of the penguin with the outline of its coloration. Fortunately, unlike the adults, the chicks have a fairly simple coloration of a grey body and a partially black head. You may need some reference photos on hand to complete this step.

 

Step 7: Refine the drawing

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Clean up the illustration by erasing any unnecessary pencil marks and adding texture lines to the fuzzy body of the penguin. If you want, add some light shading to the will-be black areas.

 

Step 8: Draw a simple background

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Want to place your penguins in a realistic setting? Then use a ruler to draw a straight horizon in the back, add some snowy mountains, and fill the sky with dramatic, swirling clouds.

 

Step 9: Go over the illustration in ink

How to Draw a Penguin Step by Step

Photo & Art: Margherita Cole | My Modern Met

Finally, it is time to go over the illustration in ink. So, using your favorite pen, carefully trace over the pencil lines. After you've gone over the whole drawing, you can fill in any black areas.

Congrats! You've created a striking black-and-white drawing of an adult emperor penguin and its chick.

 

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. When she’s not writing, Margherita continues to develop her creative practice in sequential art.
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