Art Club- How to draw your cuddly toy!

Cuddly toys are special to us. Many adults still have their cuddly toys from their childhood. My daughter Kate loved ‘purple rabbit’ when she was a toddler. Inventively named for two key qualities… It was purple, and (you’ve guessed the second one) … it was a rabbit! Purple rabbit now lives in Cornwall for most of the year, where Kate is taking her final year at university.

Drawing cuddly toys is good fun. They are excellent subjects for children’s stories, and the focus this week would suit an illustrator for children’s picture books. One very helpful fact is that most cuddly toys are made up of simple parts, so my advice is to first look very carefully at your cuddly toy and think about how it has been put together. What are the main parts? What shape is each part?

I’ll use the teddy bear pictured below to illustrate some simple steps that could help you with drawing your own cuddly toy!

Look at the picture of the teddy. Don’t worry too much about smaller parts (such as the ears or the bow) just yet. Basically there are six parts; head, body, two arms and two legs.
Very lightly (with a sketching pencil) I’ve drawn the shapes for these six main parts. I noticed that the body was larger than the head (and more of an oval shape) but they were a similar width. I compared the lengths of the arms (and width) to the body. This is called PROPORTION. Look carefully at the size and the shape of each part and it will help you get the proportions right. This light sketching of the basic shapes is called a ‘bracelet drawing.’
Once you’ve completed your bracelet drawing you could then add in some of the extra details, such as the ears and the bow. At this point I would just lightly sketch them in. Again, think carefully about POSITION and PROPORTION. Where exactly on the head would you attach the ears? How big are the ears compared to the head? How much space is there between the two ears?
Now you can look in closer detail at your cuddly toy. I have added some pattern to the bow, noticed where the label is on the leg, and added in nose and eyes. I have tried to suggest the texture of ‘fur’ with a few loose marks. You could practise mark making on a spare piece of paper if it helps. I found that using the side of the sketching pencil and making short, light marks gave a good representation of fur. I looked carefully at the DIRECTION of the fur around the nose and noticed that it went out from the centre in a circular form. I tried to make my ‘fur marks’ capture this direction (so the marks all came outwards from the centre of the nose.
I have loosely added light sketch marks to suggest fur around the outside of each key shape, thinking about the direction of the marks (eg creating a circle for the left foot as you look towards this picture). I looked at the CONTRAST in tone and tried to pick out some of the darker tones with heavier shading (eg where the right leg joins onto the body and the areas where the arms meet the body).

Now I am ready to add some colour. I chose watercolours and mixed up a colour to match the fur of the teddy. I painted lightly so that my sketch marks were still visible beneath the paint. You could use any materials of your choice to colour your cuddly toy. You might choose bolder colours of poster paint or acrylic, or you might choose to use colouring pencils. Oil pastels are really good for capturing the texture of fur as you can use short, broken strokes with your pastels to recreate the texture of your cuddly toy.

I then decided to finish my picture with a black fine liner pen. This added extra definition and precision to details such as the bow. Tight ‘criss-cross’ shading with a pen can be an effective way of suggesting darker shades (eg area where right leg joins body, or small dark patch on lower right of teddy’s face!)

I hope you all have great fun drawing your cuddly toys. You could take on the role of an illustrator and even make a short picture book, creating a story or adventure for your cuddly toy. I can’t wait to see some of your finished pictures.

I have been so impressed by Week 1 of our Website Art Club. I loved seeing your pictures and photographs of winter trees. I’m really looking forward to receiving some pictures (or stories) based on your favourite cuddly toy!

Please send them to