If you’re a fantasy fan, I’m sure you’ve drawn elf ears before. But it can be harder than it looks! So here we’re going to go step by step and draw elf ears easily. I’ll also include some elf ear references at the bottom of this article.
The fantasy world and especially elves have been in my life all the way since childhood. Both my parents were fans of the fantasy genre, movies, and books such as Excalibur and Lords of the Rings, The Hobbit, Dungeon and Dragons and others accompanied me while growing up. So it was no surprise that pointed elf ears were a must in many of my drawings.
If you’d rather watch a video, I’ve got you covered! Here’s my step-by-step process on how to draw elf ears.
Elf ears are very fun to draw, there are many ways to go about it and there’s certainly no wrong way to do it, but I can give you some help and tips on how to draw elf ears, so follow me!
Human Ears and Elf Ears Differences
If you’re like me, by now you’ve read, watched and played several fantasy stories, where humans, dwarves, orcs, fairies, elves, and many others take form in such new, weird, and beautiful shapes.
Of course, by immersing yourself in these worlds, there must have been a time, at some point, when you tried to create characters with pointed ears!
Human ears can have many shapes and sizes, but it still revolves around the same shape. With elf ears, however, you can have all shapes, sizes, and details!
The first and more obvious difference is its sharpness. Sure when drawing human ears, they can sometimes look more pointy, I actually cover that in my course, but it’s not as exaggerated, almost resembling hobbit ears in those cases.
In my drawings, I tend to draw my elves with longer ears, depending on how you want your character to look like or according to your taste you can play with the size as much as you want!
There’s another reason than merely style and design that elf ears look different than human ears, there’s also a practical reason: pointed ears focus sounds in a better way, meaning that they can orientate themselves towards the source of the sounds.
We can quickly notice this by looking at a cat. For example, you regularly can see a cat or dog moving its ears around, checking the sound source, without having to turn their heads.
In most fantasy universes, elves are described as very astute creatures that can see and hear much better than humans and so it’s no wonder their ears would also be stylized with pointy tips, even in some settings, elf ears will actually move according to sounds or even emotions, which is also a very fun approach in your drawings!
Step by Step Tutorial on Drawing Elf Ears
Well, I’ve got you covered! Here we’ll be talking about the basic Shapes for you to do if you’re looking to create some Pointy Ears (or Elf Ears) for your Character.
We won’t be exaggerating them too much so you can use them for a regular human character if you wish to as well.
Or… you can exaggerate them yourself for your High-Fantasy Character Design, your call!
In the end, I’ll also show you some examples of how you can customize your ears and style a bit more. Like I said before, when it comes to drawing elf ears, I tend to exaggerate them a lot and make them super pointy.
Anyway, let’s get this show on the road!
I’m using a simple Head Reference Guideline that I’ve created. You can make your own if you wish to or not use one at all, it’s totally up to you, although I’d say it can be very helpful to use a reference, especially if you’re still beginning your practice and are not used to the shapes yet.
1) Draw The Basic Shapes Of An Elf Ear
The first step in drawing elf ears is by creating a straight Vertical Line for the Height of your Ear, then make a very Pointy Shape like in the image.
These are just basic shapes, some guidelines for our sketch!
You can make this shape as sharp and pointy as you wish.
The dimensions you want to use are totally up to you, this is just an example. Although if it’s your first time doing this, I’d advise you to try and copy the images so you can get the hang of the shapes and lines.
Later on, you can experiment more and try different styles!
For now, I’ll keep it very sharp and soften it up later.
2) Draw The Inner Lines Of The Elf Ear
Now we create the Inner Lines of the Elf Ear: a triangular shape for the inner part of the ear and surrounding contours. These are very straight and simple lines!
Keep your lines very loose and steady, don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it’s not supposed to be, this is just a sketch.
3) Round The Overall Shapes
This step is a very simple one, now we’re going to sketch our elf ear, changing and adding some details and rounding the overall shape up!
Add as much detail as you want for your elf ear. We’re going to check out some references and ways to add some more personality to our elf ears later in this article.
4) Clean Up The Elf Ear Drawing
Whenever you’re happy with how your sketch looks like, clean everything up with long smooth lines by creating a new Layer on top and using a Dark Color or if you’re doing this the traditional way, simply switch to a Pen.
Take your time and repeat as much as you need until you’re happy with the results.
5) Add Some Color To The Elf Ear
There we go, simple and easy! Now we just need to Color everything up: choose a Skin tone and Paint it all up! I usually use a simple pen brush, with no texture or special effect, but you can also take this time to try out new tools and techniques, you may find a new favorite tool for your drawings even!
This is usually a more relaxing or even therapeutic process for me, I like to take my time and relax while doing it, you should to! After all, painting and Art is supposed to be fun and relaxing!
6) Shading The Elf Ear
After you’ve filled the Ear with a skin color of your choice, we can now just choose a darker tone and do some quick shadows to add extra depth to it and make it pop out more. This is also a good chance for you to practice painting and shadows if you’re not used to doing it!
Elf Ear References
As I said before there are many different ways to go about with elf or pointy ears and I’d like to very quickly show you some examples and references.
There are many ways to draw elf ears, so do try these out!
You can go with a smaller size as we did, that is usually suitable for hobbits and goblins for example. And you could add some details, like adding some earrings or making some dents, making them look like a rodent took some bits out of your goblin ears. This is just an example!
We’ve also talked about very long and pointy ears, so you could also play with that idea and play with sizes and exaggerate them a lot! We can even use the Night Elves and Blood Elves from World of Warcraft as a visual reference for this one.
If you’re looking into making a mermaid that it’s also an elf, you could also draw them with a more fishy look. Making them look a bit fin-like and losing most of the details we have when drawing more human ears.
If we want to be bolder and experiment even more, try to make the ears into two parts! With two pointy ends, instead of one, making them look almost like they’re tiny wings instead of actual ears. This is very suitable and cute when drawing a more petite and even child-like elf!
Another fun option is considering that our ears are made of different materials! Let’s say our elves resemble plants, trees, and other natural elements. You could play out with this and make some ears made out of leaves or bark. We could go even further, butterfly looking ears could work too, or ears that look like insect wings. There are a lot of styles we can pick from here!
And last but not least, you can also try and transmit emotions through your elve’s ears. Moving them around according to how your character is feeling.
There’s an extensive range of emotions you can play with. From angry to happy, sad, crying, laughing, and even more specific emotions like blushing, nauseous, suspicious and so on! The trick, as always, is to experiment and have fun with it!
Elf Ear Reference Photos
If you’re looking for even more elf ear reference photos, I highly recommend you check one or more of these websites and search for “elf ears”!
Great websites to find elf ear reference photos:
I also recommend checking some fantasy movies and tv series with elves, such as:
- Lord of the Rings
- The Dark Crystal
- The Hobbit
And many more!
Here are a couple of elf ear reference photos from pexels:
And remember to just have fun practicing! With fun comes motivation, as we talk about here, so having fun is extremely important!
I also recommend always using reference photos when practicing something new.
That is why I’ve created an article with 27 Art References Websites, Books, And Tools for Artists.
And that’s mostly it: Congrats, you’ve finished Drawing Elf Ears!
I hope you’ve enjoyed it! Don’t forget to share this with your friends.