How to Draw a Plague Doctor

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The plague or bubonic plague is a fever caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. It is very contagious, transmitted from rats and mice to humans via the vector of a flea bite.

The plague has caused a number of devastating epidemics throughout history. For example, in the fourteenth century, the Black Death took the lives of one-third of Europe's population.

Plague doctors were physicians who treated people infected with bubonic plague. From the 1600s to the 1800s, some of these doctors wore the characteristic plague mask and waxed robes. At the time, people had not yet discovered microscopic germs; they thought that disease was spread by "putrid air." The beaklike mask was filled with aromatics, such as herbs, spices, flowers, and straw, to hide the scent of the ill, supposedly protecting the doctor in the process.

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Today, plague doctors are most often seen in steampunk media.

Would you like to draw a cartoon plague doctor? This easy, step-by-step cartoon drawing tutorial is here to show you how. All you will need is a pencil, pen, or marker and a sheet of paper.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Anubis, Pennywise, and Cartoon Scientist.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Plague Doctor

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 1

1. Begin by using four curved lines to draw a curved rectangle. This will form the top of the plague doctor's hat.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 2

2. Use a long, roughly "S" shaped curved line to draw the brim of the hat. Notice how the top of the "S" contacts the middle of the "S," giving the brim a three-dimensional appearance.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 3

3. Use two long, curved lines to outline the birdlike plague mask. Allow the lines to meet at a point. Draw a circle within a circle to indicate the eye opening; shade between the circles. Draw several curved lines running the length of the beak.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 4

4. Use curved lines to outline the back of the head and the scarf that is wrapped around the neck. Draw curved lines from the back of the mask to the back of the head, indicating the band used to keep the mask in place. Draw curved lines along the scarf, forming folds in the material.

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How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 5

5. Use a series of overlapping curved lines to draw the arm of the plague doctor's robe. The overlaps indicate folds in the fabric due to the abundance of material. At the bottom of the arm, use curved lines to enclose the shape of the hand and the curved rectangular outline of an open book.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 6

6. Use two overlapping curved lines to draw the top of the garment. Draw buttons using small circles.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 7

7. Outline the torso and arm using overlapping curved lines. Again, note the folds in the material. Use a curved line to distinguish the belt. Draw vertical lines across it to form the belt buckle. Outline the hand and fingers using curved lines. Then, enclose two partial circles beneath the hand, forming the handle of the lantern. Draw the body of the lantern using a series of rounded rectangular shapes, the central globe of the lantern being the largest. Then, draw pairs of curved lines connecting the upper and lower portions of the lantern.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 8

8. Use a long, curved line to outline the skirt of the plague doctor's robe. Don't forget to draw the remaining side of the belt behind the arm. Draw long, curved lines down the length of the skirt. Use curved lines to enclose the irregular shape of the shoes, and draw short lines across the tops of them to indicate buckles or laces.

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How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 9

9. Use small lines to add detail to the plague doctor’s clothing.

How to Draw Plague Doctor: Step 10

Color your plague doctor. Then, check out our selection of cartoon character drawing guides to give this doctor patients and onlookers.

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The Complete Plague Doctor Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Plague Doctor

Printable Drawing Tutorial

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  • This plague doctor, according to National Geographic, is historically accurate for the 17th and early 18th century great plagues, such as Milan 1629-31, London 1665 and Marseilles 1720. French physician Charles de Lorne (1584-1678) is often credited for the design, which was first used in 1619. It is not historically accurate for the Black Death.

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