How to Draw a Snake: A Step-by-Step Guide

Snakes are fascinating creatures that have captivated humans for centuries. Their sleek bodies and unique patterns make them a popular subject for artists and illustrators. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to draw a snake, you’re in the right place. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to draw a snake, along with valuable insights and tips to help you create a realistic and captivating snake drawing.

Understanding Snake Anatomy

Before we dive into the drawing process, it’s important to have a basic understanding of snake anatomy. Snakes have a long, cylindrical body with no limbs. They have a distinct head, which is usually wider than their body, and a slender tail. Snakes also have scales covering their body, which give them their unique texture and pattern.

Gathering Reference Material

When starting any drawing, it’s essential to gather reference material. This will help you understand the shape, texture, and pattern of the snake you want to draw. Look for high-quality images of snakes from different angles to get a comprehensive understanding of their anatomy.

Additionally, consider observing live snakes or watching videos to study their movement and behavior. This will add a level of realism to your drawing and help you capture the essence of a snake.

Materials Needed

Now that you have your reference material, let’s gather the necessary materials to start drawing:

  • Pencil: A graphite pencil with a medium hardness (HB or 2B) is ideal for sketching the initial outline of the snake.
  • Paper: Choose a smooth paper that can handle pencil shading and erasing without smudging.
  • Eraser: A kneaded eraser is recommended as it can be shaped to erase small details and highlights.
  • Blending Stump: A blending stump or tortillon can be used to smudge and blend pencil lines for a smoother appearance.

Step-by-Step Guide to Drawing a Snake

Now that you have your materials ready, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of drawing a snake:

Step 1: Sketch the Basic Shape

Start by lightly sketching the basic shape of the snake using simple curved lines. Focus on capturing the overall length and curvature of the snake’s body. Remember to keep your lines loose and light, as you will be refining them later.

Step 2: Add Details to the Head

Next, add more details to the snake’s head. Pay attention to the shape of the eyes, the position of the nostrils, and the mouth. Snakes have a unique facial structure, so take your time to get these details right.

Step 3: Define the Body

Once you’re satisfied with the head, start defining the body of the snake. Add more curved lines to indicate the scales and the overall texture of the snake’s skin. Remember to vary the size and shape of the scales to create a realistic effect.

Step 4: Refine the Details

Now it’s time to refine the details of your snake drawing. Use smaller, more precise lines to add intricate patterns and textures to the scales. Pay attention to the direction of the scales and how they overlap each other.

Take your time during this step, as the details will greatly enhance the realism of your drawing. Look closely at your reference material to ensure accuracy.

Step 5: Add Shadows and Highlights

To give your snake drawing depth and dimension, add shadows and highlights. Determine the direction of the light source and shade the areas that would be in shadow. Use your blending stump to smudge and blend the shading for a smooth transition.

Next, add highlights to the areas that would catch the light. This will make your snake drawing appear more three-dimensional and lifelike. Use your eraser to gently lift off some graphite to create highlights.

Step 6: Finalize the Drawing

Once you’re satisfied with the overall look of your snake drawing, it’s time to finalize it. Go over the lines and details, making any necessary adjustments or corrections. Darken the lines that need more definition and erase any stray marks.

Take a step back and assess your drawing from a distance to ensure it looks balanced and proportionate. Make any final touches to enhance the overall composition.

Key Tips for Drawing a Realistic Snake

Here are some key tips to keep in mind when drawing a realistic snake:

  • Study snake anatomy: Understanding the anatomy of snakes will help you accurately depict their shape and proportions.
  • Observe real snakes: Watching videos or observing live snakes will give you a better understanding of their movement and behavior.
  • Use reference material: Gather high-quality images of snakes to use as a reference for your drawing.
  • Start with light lines: Begin your drawing with light, loose lines that can be easily adjusted and refined.
  • Add details gradually: Build up the details of your snake drawing gradually, focusing on one area at a time.
  • Use shading and highlights: Adding shadows and highlights will give your snake drawing depth and dimension.
  • Practice regularly: Like any skill, drawing snakes takes practice. Set aside regular time to hone your skills and improve your technique.


Drawing a snake can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article and incorporating the key tips provided, you can create a realistic and captivating snake drawing. Remember to gather reference material, understand snake anatomy, and practice regularly to improve your skills. With time and dedication, you’ll be able to create stunning snake drawings that showcase your artistic talent.


1. Can I use colored pencils instead of graphite pencils?

Yes, you can definitely use colored pencils instead of graphite pencils. Colored pencils can add a vibrant and realistic touch to your snake drawing. Experiment with different colors to capture the unique patterns and textures of different snake species.

2. How long does it take to become proficient at drawing snakes?

Becoming proficient at drawing snakes, like any skill, varies from person to person. It depends on factors such as your dedication, practice routine, and natural artistic ability. With regular practice and a focus on studying snake anatomy, you can start seeing improvement in your snake drawings within a few weeks or months.

3. Can I draw a snake without any reference material?</h3

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