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 came as no surprise that pointed ears were a must in a lot 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, where 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, regularly shaped ears, ending with a slightly pointy tip.
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 actually easily 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!
Male vs Female
There’s nothing much to say on this topic. In short, there’s no difference! Unless you want to, of course. If you’d wish to change the ears according to the genre of your character, I’d say to draw the male ears more squared and rough, while for female ears more delicate and elongated!
Feel free to experiment and test out different shapes and sizes until you decide on one.
How can I Draw Fantasy 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 a bit more your ears and style. 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 a 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) Start 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 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) Now we create the Inner Lines of the 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) This step is a very simple one, now we’re going to sketch our ear, changing and adding some details and rounding the overall shape up!
My Lines Look Too Messy, What Can I Do?
Just keep going and practice a lot! It doesn’t matter what you’re drawing, if it’s elf ears, round ears, animals, people, a scenery or just a simple object, the answer will be the same: Practice a lot!
Doing simple exercises like filling up pages with vertical and horizontal lines or simple shapes, like circles, squares, and triangles will help a lot! If you feel a bit lost, feel free to join my Free e-mail Course. It will help you get started and your lines will improve quickly,
Either way, we’re going to clean everything up shortly so you really don’t need to worry a lot about how messy your lines are right now, as you can see mine aren’t perfect either.
(4) 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) 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) After you’ve filled the Ear up 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!
Different Sizes and Shapes
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.
Now that you already know the main and basic shapes to draw your pointy ear, it’s time to experiment and try out different kind of fantasy ears:
You can go with a smaller size like 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 you’re drawing a smaller 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 and trees and other elements found in nature. 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 in general, there’s a lot of styles we can pick from there!
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, here are some examples:
There’s a big 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!
Having Motivation is a big and important part of drawing, so having fun is a MUST in my opinion.
And that’s mostly it: Congrats, you’ve finished Drawing Elf Ears!
I hope you've enjoyed it! Don't forget to share this to your friends.