In the mythology of Germany, the term "elf" originally referred to any spirit, good or bad. Later, the term denoted a small, human-like creature. Elves were often seen as mischievous, stealing children, harming cattle, and giving people bad dreams. Others were seen as good, teaching birds to sing and performing helpful tasks for people.
Belief in elves waned during Medieval times, but reentered popular culture with William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the early 1800s, St. Nicholas, the forerunner of Santa Claus, was first described as a "jolly old elf." By 1850, at least two literary references had been made to "Christmas elves" helping Santa to make toys for children in his workshop at the North Pole.
Today, elves in art are typically depicted as being short in stature and having pointed ears. Christmas decorations, cartoons, and live action films feature such elves, typically clad in green and wearing pointed shoes and hats. Elves of other descriptions occupy books, movies, and memorabilia of fantasy fiction. Today, the country of Iceland has the highest number of people reporting a belief in elves.
Would you like to draw an elf? Doing so is easy with the help of this simple, step-by-step drawing tutorial. You will need only a piece of paper, a pencil, and an eraser. You may also wish to use markers, crayons, or colored pencils to shade your drawing.
Watch 'How to Draw an Elf' Video Tutorial
Step by Step Instructions for Drawing an Elf
1. Begin by drawing a circle. This will form the elf's head.
2. Draw two curved lines extending downward from the circle, curving outward at the bottom. Enclose the space between the lines using a curved line. This will form the elf's body.
3. Enclose two shapes, curved rectangles, beneath the elf's body. These will form the bottom of his tunic.
4. From each of the curved rectangles, extend a pair of short, straight, parallel lines. These will form the elf's legs. Draw a set of curved, parallel lines across the body, indicating a belt. Within the belt, draw two vertical straight lines to form the belt buckle.
5. Erase the guide lines from the tunic.
6. Draw pointed shoes at the bottom of the legs. Use two curved lines for each, meeting in a gentle curve on one side and a sharp point on the other. The resulting shape should resemble a twisted raindrop.
7. Draw a narrow, curved rectangle across the top of the head; this will form the brim of the hat. Draw a circle - the puffy decoration at the top of the hat - above and to one side of the brim. Then, connect the brim to the ball using two long, curved lines. Draw a curved line on each side of the body, from the head to the bottom of the tunic. These form the arms. Draw a set of curved lines across each, indicating the cuff and separating the arm from the hand.
8. Erase guide lines from the hat.
9. Detail the face and garment. Enclose a teardrop shape, pointed on top, on both sides of the head. These form the elf's pointed ears. Detail the inside of each ear with a curved line. Draw a circle for the nose, and dots for eyes. Indicate eyebrows with a curved line above each eye. Draw a wide "U" to form the mouth, enclosed with a straight line at the top. Use a curved line to indicate the tongue. Draw a straight line upwards from the belt, and connect it to the face using two small, curved triangles, forming the tunic's collar.
10. Color your elf.