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How to Draw a Savanna

By Rod Kuster
Savannas provide stunning landscapes that are ideal for drawings.
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Savannas are large areas with individual trees scattered throughout. They are naturally maintained by cycles of rain, drought and fire. Savannas are found in India, Australia and South America and cover almost half of continental Africa. Elephants often turn forested areas into savannas by breaking branches and trunks and eating leaves and twigs, which allows the formation of grasslands. The most famous savannas are in the African game reserves, which provide startling vistas that are ideal for wildlife and landscape photographers, as well as artists.

Choose some scenic photographs of the African savanna to design the composition of your drawing. Find an image that includes elements such as distant mountain ranges, acacia trees, shrubs and open grassy areas. Position the image near drawing paper for easy reference.

Shade in the sky, making it lighter as you descend toward the center of your drawing. Use the eraser to create highlights in the sky, which define the cloud formations at the same time. Use different levels of light and dark shading until the sky looks realistic. Draw the outline of the mountain range along the horizon. Use a rough, irregular line to indicate the tops of the mountains. Shade the mountains to a dark gray, as there is no detail visible at that distance.

Leave patches of light areas in the distance to indicate open grasslands. Overlap some of these areas with groupings of distant shrubs. Draw several acacia trees in the distance. Place them in between distant mountain tops to create a clear silhouette of the shape. Draw the typically extended branches reaching out to a point on both sides. Draw small patches to indicate leaves on the ones that are closer.

Lightly shade the grassy areas; use a cloth to blend them. Examine the reference photo to get an idea of where to indicate darker, shaded areas. Draw short, parallel lines in the entire grassy area.

Create shrubs in the foreground, using darker shading to make them stand out. Add more detail to the grass near the front of the drawing. Overlap grasses in front of the shrubs to create depth.

Create multiple layers of grass lines. Use an eraser to carefully rub in lighter areas. Blend with a cloth. Re-draw crisp grass leaves in the foreground to finish the drawing.


Things You Will Need

  • Drawing paper
  • Graphite pencil
  • Eraser
  • Reference image

About the Author


Rod Kuster has been a writer and editor since 1995. His work has been published in "Computer Magazine," "Boom Magazine" and Shock Media. Kuster holds a B.A. in international development studies from the University of Dalhousie.