Welcome to another step by step tutorial. This time we will focus on ” How to draw an Orc step by step “. Doesn’t matter if you work in digital or using traditional medium, this tutorial can be applied using both methods.
We will follow a step by step process, so you can learn easily how to draw Orcs. We will start our drawing from the hips and the torso. Our goal is to draw a full body image of a cool Orc.
For this tutorial, I decided to draw a concept art style posse similar to my previous tutorial “How to draw a Space Marine”. The posse is more relaxed compared to the dynamic posse of our tutorial on “How to draw Batman Full Body “.
As a side note if you want to know which traditional art supplies or digital tablets I use in my work, check the links at the bottom of the article.
Also, If you want more in-depth info about which art supplies I recommend you can check my article about “Recommended art supplies”.
With that being said let’s start the tutorial!!!
Before I start with my Orc drawing I want to give you a couple of tips or recommendations that will help you to achieve a better result when you are trying to draw your own original drawings. In this tutorial you will basically copy what I’m doing, I will like to show how I prepare my self when I’m starting a drawing. What references do I use? How do I decide the final pose? etc…
This early stage is usually overlooked by beginners. If you are trying to draw an original drawing, is always useful to find all sorts of images we can use for inspiring ourselves.
I like to use a photo-realistic reference. The reason why is to avoid as much as I can other artist’s drawings as references to not contaminate my own style trying to imitate other artists styles. To depend completely on drawings of other artists can limit your own creativity.
I think it can be useful to inspire yourself or to copy certain details. However, if we depend solely on the works of other artists, we can easily pass from creators to imitators or copyists without realizing it. We will also be constantly comparing our work with that of the artist we are taking as a reference.
I recommend you to open a Pinterest account where you can create some mud boards and pin the images you consider useful. Pinterest is a great repository of images and I’m sure you will find tons of images there.
I usually start by drawing a few heads in different poses and attitudes. The purpose is to be able to capture the essence of the character well. The face is the focal point of a character. To explore heads variations, helps me to understand in which attitude (anger, anger, curiosity, etc …) I want to represent the character I’m drawing.
For my character, I want to explore a couple of options I have in mind about which type of Orc I´m drawing. With this I mean, who is he or it? whatever you wanna call it. My two main ideas were:
A. My character is some sort of brute barbarian, big, mean, primitive and aggressive. The usual Orc you can see on World of Warcraft or Warhammer.
B. The other option was to make him also, big and threatening, but more contempt, like an Orc Warlord, with full armor.
After I had some heads drawn I found which type, from the two above, my Orc was. I decided to go for the second one because it’s less common and a little bit more challenging in terms of design.
After this exploration face and having a clear idea of what I want to draw, it’s time to start our final Orc drawing.
First Step: Creating the Skeleton
The camera angle I chose for drawing this character is a frontal view with the character in a 3/4 pose.
I will start drawing the waist, drawing it like some sort of short underwear. Once you have the waist placed then you can start drawing the torso on top of it. The torso is like a rounded box and it´s important to show the different sides of it. In this case, the left side of the torso( from the viewers perspective) will be totally hidden from the viewer. Meanwhile, the right side will be shown clearly.
Drawing the torso
Remember to keep the torso and the waist separated from each other. The space in between them will be the abdominal area. The bottom of the torso will represent the lower ribs. Once both volumes are placed, create a curve line connecting both, waist and torso. This line will divide the front face of the torso ( where the chest is ). You can draw also a curved line under the chest area. Doing that you will define where the arch of the ribs will be placed.
The size of the torso will be over 3 heads or 3 heads and a half in hight. Keep in mind the volume of the Orc head is smaller related to his body mass if we compare it with the regular human head. Orcs are giant brutes, especially the Chiefs and Bosses. Our guy is for sure a leader, so we have to make it big and threatening. Keeping a smaller head will accent the idea of our Orc being huge and wearing a giant armor. But, remember don’t draw it too small or it will look ridiculous.
Drawing the hips will be the next step in our journey. I usually start drawing the hips and the crotch like if our character was wearing a short swimsuit or male underwear. It simplifies the process creation and makes things easier to understand.
Drawing the arms
Next step will be to draw the arms. We will start with the shoulders. I’ve seen many people drawing the shoulder like a couple of egg-shaped spheres. In my case, I do the same, but I also like to draw the top part of this inverted egg flatter. The reason is this allows to the descending line of the traps to continue on the deltoids. The result is a more natural and fluid body line. The left side shoulder, which is almost totally hidden from the viewers perspective, will be drawn as a short curve line coming out from behind the upper part of the torso.
The Biceps and Triceps
For the biceps and triceps area, I will draw a tube for each arm. This tube will become narrower on the bottom. Here will be connected to the elbow.
The left arm’s biceps will come out from behind the rib cage area. Take notice of the difference between the left arm shoulder, which is represented as a curve line and the biceps which is drawn as a straight line that ends on the elbow area.
The elbows will be situated on the same height of the floating ribs, on the sides of the torso.
For the forearms, we will draw also a tube for each arm. Like before, they will become narrower on the bottom part. In this case, the bottom part will be the wrist. More or less, both wrists will be aligned with the crotch on the hips area.
Both hands will be drawn as fist because both hands will be grabbing something. The right hand will be grabbing a maze and the left hand a shield. I will draw them quite schematically because the hands will be wearing gauntlets. For the fist placed frontally we will draw a big irregular square for the palm. The fingers will be drawn as little rectangles.
For the hand placed sideways, the main body of the hand will be a rectangle and the fingers again will be drawn as single squares.
Later on, you can define better the different parts of the gauntlets when we will be drawing the armor volumes.
Drawing the legs
Our character will be drawn walking. Nothing to exaggerated or spectacular, just a casual walk. I want this drawing to have a more concept art style because I want the character to be seen completely. So no fisheye lens perspectives or dramatic foreshortenings.
Regarding the length of legs, the thigh will be almost 3 heads more or less and for the shin 2 and a half.
The thighs will be drawn as massive tubes, similar to the ones we drew for the biceps and triceps area, on the arms, but 2 or 3 times bigger.
The shins and the calves will be drawn different one to the other:
It will present a curve line on top and another one under. The curve line on top will be longer than the one on the exterior side, but still shorter if we compare it with the curve line bellow that follows.
Will be drawn as a concave curve. It will starts on the knee and will end on the feet.
The knees will be drawn as an ellipse. The reason is that our character will go dress in full armor, I will start drawing the knee pads already. Something similar of what I did with the hands( drawing them ready to define them as gauntlets ). Drawing the knees as knee pads now also simplify things from the beginning.
The feet will be represented as geometric shapes. Do to the pose of the character, the front feet will be drawn as a scalene triangle.
The feet on the back, because the flexing of the leg, it will be divided into two parts. The area of the toes will be drawn almost like a regular triangle. This part becomes the point on which the leg weights lays. The rest of the feet will be drawn almost like a rectangle.
Second Step: Drawing the Volumes
Shoulders and arms
In this step, I will define the main volumes of the armor. The most identifiable elements of an Orc are the brought shoulder. This is why I will start with the shoulder pads. My design will follow a layered design with 3 plates of armor, one over the other. The plates designs will be rounded on top and pointed on the bottom.
Coming out from under the shoulder pads and covering the triceps and the biceps, we will draw the base of a leather sleeve. This leather sleeve will serve as a second layer of protection.
For the forearms, we will divide them into two parts. On top, right under the elbow area, we will place the baseline for some fur. This fur could be the top part of some bracelet or large glove. It’s a decoration piece. Orcs usually are drawn wearing animal skins. This helps to emphasize his barbaric and brutish nature and even our Orc, who goes in full armor, is wearing some of these ornaments. Like we will see in the next steps, we will add even more animal skins to our character.
The second part of the forearm will be the baseline for the gauntlet we spoke about when drawing the hand.
The Chest plate and the Head
The Chest plate area is covering basically the rib cage. The main distinctive element is the metal gorget, protecting the neck. Another cool element is the pointy details on the lower rib cage, matching the pointy ending of the shoulder pads.
In the abdominal area, you will find a donut shape element. This will serve us as a base for the sash around the waist we will draw later on.
Regarding the head, I will do very little at this stage. The most I will do is to define the ears, with their distinctive pointy shape, almost like a little triangle.
Notice how this pointy shapes start to appear all over the character. These triangular shapes try to convey the idea of a threat. Triangles are identified by the human mind as threats. The best examples we find them on nature itself, with triangular shapes in fangs, claws, fins and even heads like the ones of the sharks.
All these elements are common to predatory animals. This is why we have to include all sorts of different triangles in our character if we want to make him look like a threat.
The main change in the leg area will be the addition of a long piece of fabric like some sort of big loincloth. This piece of fabric will hide from the viewer almost completely the shin and the calve of the back leg, only leaving visible the point of the back feet. As you can see on the drawing of this “Second Step” section I left the shape of the back leg suggested in red, behind the loincloth.
The weapons and shield
In this “Second Step,” we will also define the main shape of the weapons and the shield our Orc will be wearing.
The maze on the right hand will be composed of a long cylinder for the handle. Due to the way the character is holding the weapon, the maze will appear pointing down with the head of the maze shaped like a thick and short cylinder.
The other weapon is also placed on the right side of the character. We are speaking about the sword our character carries sheathed on the side. The type of sword will be a big saber with a thick blade. Almost like a sword version of the chopping knife of a butcher.
The last element will be a big shield on the left hand. Notice again I’m using the triangular shapes, like some sort of fangs, on the corners of the shield. Like I describe before, this type of decorations will help us to convey the idea of our character being a threat and dangerous.
Third Step: Defining the Volumes
The third stage will be all about cleaning the lines and defining all the main parts or elements of our character.
We will define clearly the different parts and pieces of the armor. Our goal now is to prepare the drawing for the detailing stage, where we will make our artwork shine. We gotta make sure all the small and big elements are placed in the right position, avoiding any anatomical error.
A good example of this will be to draw the facial features on their right place. This can be tricky drawing a semi-human character like our Orc. I tried to keep his features quite human in terms of their positioning on the face, but you immediately can see very distinctive features not seen in current humans. Some of these referred features are pointy ears, big fangs, flat nose, and big eyebrows.
Regarding the positioning of the head, we will draw it in a 3/4 view. If you want more in-depth information on how to draw the human head in a 3/4 view, you can check my article “How to draw the human body step by step”. The principles used for drawing the human head can be used to build the Orc head with the modifications I commented on the previous paragraph( pointy ears, fangs, flat nose, etc… ).
Clothing, ornaments, and weaponry
Regarding the clothing and weapons, the more distinctive and new element is the long cape he is wearing over his shoulders, made of fur and a long piece of cloth.
On top of the character, I placed also some spikes with skulls impaled on them like ornaments. The positioning of each skull is a different one from the other. The one on the left is almost on a profile view, the one on the center is in a 3/4 view, similar to our character’s head, and the skull on the right is looking down, due to how it’s respective spike is placed.
For the maze, I will add some spikes to it. Some will be pointing in one direction and some to other. This is because the spikes are attached to a cylindrical surface going around it.
I also add some claw type ornament on the tip of the foot area. Again I’m using claws, fangs, and spikes ( triangular shapes) to decorate my character and making look more threatening.
Fourth Step: Detailing
Now comes the real fun! In the previous stages, we dedicated our efforts to establish where and how we will place all the different anatomical and decorative elements. Now that we have a good and solid base, with correct proportions and the features that we like, we will give life to our character.
How to use the line to create volume
The first trick I will tell you about is to draw the contour lines of your character with different thicknesses. In our character I decided the light source, illuminating him, will come from the top left side. So, when drawing the contour lines of the character ( head, armor, shield, weapons, etc…) we will draw the contour line on the left of the object we are drawing (facing this imaginary light source ) thinner and the line on the right side( hiding from the light ), it will be drawn thicker.
Hatching, positive and negative spaces
The second trick will be to use hatching and cross-hatching. The use of hatching will be to create volume and shadow. If you don’t know what is hatching and cross-hatching, you can check my article on How to shade with a pencil. For the sake of the argument, I will assume you understand hatching is a series of parallel lines and cross-hatching is the layering of this groups of parallel lines, one on top of each other.
What I like to use is what it’s called contour hatching, which is to place this parallel lines following the contour of a surface. I will do my hatching on parts where the light is not hitting fully.
The third trick will be to use the negative and positive spaces. Basically is to use masses of black to convey the idea of areas of the drawing totally in shadows. This area will be parts of the character totally hide from our light source. This resource is very common in comic drawing and inking.
The other use is to create the contrast between parts of the character, even if both areas are fully lighted. In our character, a perfect example will be the hair and the ponytail, which are fully black ( with the exception of some reflection line I did on top of the head ), opposed to the face which is detailed but not black. This trick helps me to accent and create a focal point around the face. The face will appear like a bright spot surrounded by a black mass.
I did something similar with the animal skin over his shoulders, painted almost fully on black, against the armor or the face, which are detailed lines and contour hatching but not fully darken.
Also, you can combine both techniques hatching and negative space together. I like to use hatching to create a transition area between the lighted area and the shadowed area painted in full black. This resource creates some sort of a gradient from light to shadow using lines.
Materials and textures for the weapons and armor
The use of the hatching techniques with the positive & negative spaces will already give you some texture on the different surfaces you will apply these techniques. Nevertheless, you can use the same principles of contour hatching for creating texture and wearing off. Scratches on metal and decals on borders can be created this way.
Another way to create texture is to create little craters on the armor. This marks could be the result of some piercing object trying to perforate the armor, like the point of a sword or a spear. Remember where your light source is coming so you can place your shadows inside this wholes properly. I usually draw this little holes like black crescent moons. The border near to the light will be thicker and the one further away will be the side which is almost open and with no line. The holes are little concave areas. The border of the hole which is near to the light is casting a shadow over the bottom of the hole.
We can use the line drawing also to create materials like wood. Check, for example, the handle of the maze. We will draw some irregular lines and some a circle to represent the texture of wood.
Our character is wearing a long cape and also a long loincloth over the legs. At this stage we will focus on 2 things:
- Define the wrinkles and foldings of the fabric: it’s important you understand in which points the fabric is being held or pull. These points will be the origin of the wrinkles and foldings in the fabric. These points will pull and create tension in the fabric. The wrinkles will follow the motion of the loincloth.
- The other important thing will be to draw some tearing and ripping on the bottom of the fabric. This will help us to communicate the idea this clothing is quite weathered.
Pushing the details
As you can see from the Third step to the Fourth I added new elements like the leather straps and the bag on the waist or the strips of fabric tied to the spikes over the shoulders.
- The leather straps and the bag will give us not only some extra detail but also will help us to add an extra layer to the character. This will gives a more believable and realistic touch to our drawing. Usually, warriors were several layers of clothing, armor, belts, and weapons.
- The strips of fabric have a clear purpose, to help on the motion of our character. The strips floating backward will accent the idea of the character moving forward. Remember to draw the strips floating in irregular shapes, different ones from the others and also showing sometimes both sides at the same time, twisting and turning them do to the motion.
Detailing the face
I will leave the best part for the end. Drawing the face is the funniest, challenging and most important part of the drawing. The face is the focal point of our Orc. Drawing it successfully will be key in order to create an outstanding piece of artwork.
I will start casting some shadows under the eyebrows and the nose. I will define also the bone chicks, the nostrils, and the lips. Finally, I will also draw some lines representing possible wrinkles and scars.
I hope this tutorial was useful to you. I tried to put as much information as I could and tried to structure this information as best as I can.
Remember that practice is the key factor here. Don’t expect magic results the first time you try to draw an Orc, especially if you are a beginner artist. Take your time gathering references and studying the images. Try to understand the physical attributes and anatomy of Orcs. You don’t need to do the same type of Orc I did, you can create different facial features or even body type. The key factor is to understand and follow the process. To be patient and draw a good baseline and not to jump too soon into detailing the character.
I wish you good luck in your endeavor. If you have any comment or doubt, please leave a line on the comment section and I will be more than happy to answer you as soon as I can.
If you are interested in the materials I use and recommend you can check my post “Recommended art supplies”.
Art and Writing by Toni Justamante Jacobs.