How to Draw a Chameleon

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Chameleons are tree-dwelling lizards known for their color changing abilities and their long sticky tongue. Chameleons are native to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and southern Europe. The highest concentration of chameleons occurs on the large African island of Madagascar. Chameleons range in size from less than one inch to over 27 inches.

How do chameleons change color? Special cells, called melanophores, contain granules of pigment. Color is determined by how this pigment is concentrated or dispersed.

Can chameleons really blend in with anything? Chameleons may use green, brown, yellow, and cream coloration as camouflage, but it is a misconception that they can blend into any background. Rather, a color change may be brought about by the light and temperature of the environment, or by emotion. Males competing for a female are often the most brightly colored.

Chameleons have other interesting characteristics. Their eyes are covered with bumpy camouflage and move independently of one another.

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Some have fantastic "head ornamentation," such as horns or helmet-shaped frills.

They can use their sticky tongues to catch distant insects; the tongue may extend twice the length of the body.

Their toes are also spaced in a special pattern called "zygodactyl," that is, two to three toes face outward, and two to three face inward. This helps the chameleon to grip tree branches.

Would you like to draw your own color changing chameleon? This simple, 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: Lizard, Turtle, and Cartoon Snake.

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​Step by Step Instructions for Drawing​ a Chameleon

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 1

1. Begin by using two long, curved lines to draw a rounded shape that is open on one side. This outlines the chameleon's head. Notice, too, the small overlap of the lines at the tip of the lip. Draw a curved line across the face to indicate the mouth, and detail the corner of the mouth with a short, curved line.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 2

2. Use two long curved lines to outline the chameleon's body. Notice how the top line extends, forming the top of the tail.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 3

3. Continue each of the lines, forming the tail. The lines should curve around one another in a spiral pattern before meeting in a rounded point.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 4

4. Use a long, curved line to outline the chameleon's rear leg and foot. Notice how the line doubles back upon itself to form two "U" shaped toes.

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How to Draw Chameleon: Step 5

5. Use a long, curved line to outline the front leg and foot. Again, note how the line doubles back upon itself to form the toes.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 6

6. Draw the chameleon's eyes. First, draw a large circle overlapping the top of the head. Within this shape, draw a small circle with an even smaller circle inside it. Shade between the circles, forming the pupil. Then, draw two curved lines over the eye, indicating the eye ridge or brow. Finally, draw a small oval to indicate the nostril.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 7

7. Erase any guide lines from the lizard's head and legs.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 8

8. Draw stripes on the chameleon's back and tail. For each stripe, use two wavy lines that meet in a sharp point.

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How to Draw Chameleon: Step 9

9. Give the chameleon something to stand on. Use parallel curved lines to sketch a tree branch in front of, between, and behind the chameleon's feet. Then, enclose the far legs using curved lines.

How to Draw Chameleon: Step 10

10. Color your chameleon. Many chameleons are green in color when they are at rest, but depending on their mood and surroundings, they can take on a rainbow of colors!

Leapin' lizards! We've got plenty more reptile drawing guides, including turtles, lizards, snakes, and more.

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The Complete Chameleon Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Chameleon

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