How to Draw a Buffalo

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Buffalo, also called bison, are large grazing mammals related to cattle. There are two species of bison, one native to North America and the other to Europe. Both are known for the characteristic hump on their backs. The European variety is also called the wisent.

Bison typically travel in small herds called bands, but two centuries ago, herds numbering into the millions were known in the American West. It is estimated that 50 million bison at that time represented “the largest aggregation of large animals known to recorded history.”

The bison had been at the center of the Native American economy, but the animals were hunted nearly to extinction after European colonization. By 1900, government measures were put in place to protect the bison.

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Buffalo are a staple in Native American art. Some tribes revered the buffalo as sacred, especially the white buffalo. The likeness of the bison has also featured on American money, such as the nickel and the quarter, as well as clothing and accessories such as belt buckles.

Would you like to draw a buffalo? This easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial is here to help. All you will need is a pencil, a sheet of paper, and an eraser. You may also wish to color your finished drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Deer, Fox, and Bear.

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​Step by Step Instructions for Drawing​ a Buffalo

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 1

1. Begin by drawing three circles of different sizes. Notice that the middle circle is significantly larger than the others, and that some of the circles overlap. These shapes indicate the head, shoulders, and hips of the buffalo, and will help you to sketch the entire form.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 2

2. Use a series of short lines to sketch the buffalo’s snout and beard. Notice the overlapping lines at the tip of the snout, and the “fuzzy” appearance of the beard, caused by short lines meeting in points.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 3

3. Sketch in the top of the buffalo’s head. Above the smallest circle, enclose a furry, rounded shape, using a series of short lines that meet in jagged points.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 4

4. Connect the head, shoulder, and hips using long, curved lines. This completes the animal’s back and stomach.

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How to Draw Buffalo: Step 5

5. Sketch in the front leg. Notice that the shape is crafted entirely of short lines that meet in jagged points, giving the animal a furry appearance. Note, too, that this line continues all the way to the top of the shoulder.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 6

6. Enclose the shape of the far front leg, again using a series of short, jagged lines.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 7

7. Sketch the rear legs using curved lines. Notice the point that is the ankle on the back of the leg. Then, use straight lines to enclose the nearly triangular shapes of the hooves. Finally, extend two curved lines from the hips, and allow them to meet in a sharp point. Then, enclose a teardrop shape at the end and texture it with curved lines. This forms the tail with a tuft of fur at the end.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 8

8. Erase the guidelines left by the original circles.

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How to Draw Buffalo: Step 9

9. Extend curved lines from the front legs. Enclose them at the bottom using the triangular shape of the hoof. Then, draw a line down the center of each hoof. Next, detail the face. Shade small ovals for the nostrils and eye, and draw curved lines around them for texture. Draw short, curved lines to indicate the fur at the top of the face. Finally, use two curved lines meeting in a point to form the buffalo’s horn.

How to Draw Buffalo: Step 10

10. Color your buffalo. They are usually brown in color, but white buffalo have been known to exist.

Learn to draw more North American wildlife, such as deer, foxes, bears, wolves, and bald eagles.

The Complete Buffalo Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Buffalo

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