How to Draw a Cartoon Hippo

Cartoon hippo drawing

Here, let's take a look at drawing a cartoon hippo (short for hippopotamus of course!).

Did you know, hippos are often referred to as 'the single most dangerous animal in Africa'? You'd never guess this looking at the happy-go-lucky hippo on the right!

In drawing a hippopotamus like this one, it really is quite simple. Similar to a bear - the shape of a hippopotamus is easy to break down and simplify. Three ovals and a circle is all it takes.

Alright, time to get on with the lesson... let's get drawing this cartoon hippo!...


Framework for drawing a cartoon hippo

First Step - Hippo Framework

Simple and to the point, drawing a cartoon hippo framework is as easy as drawing three ovals and a circle - all overlapping just as they are to the left.

So, go ahead and draw a similar arrangement of shapes on your own. And just a tip... if you'd like the mouth of your hippo to be either more or less open - adjust the vertical spacing between the smaller ovals on the left side of the framework.

So... how's it coming along? Keeping your lines nice and light? Again - know that the framework is just a guideline. They're great for helping to keep things proportional and in line. In time... with practice... you'll become more comfortable with drawing animals like this one, and will be able to recall and manipulate this framework from memory. The message -- keep practicing! :-)

Moving along...

Second Step - A Big Happy Head for Your Cartoon Hippo

Focusing on just the head area, the next thing to do is carefully place your lines to gradually bring the hippo's head into view.

Below are four examples outlining the sequence by which the head of my hippo takes form. Use these examples to help you along. BUT! Don't hesitate in changing things where you see fit. Again, giving your hippo a closed mouth as opposed to an open one is one idea to think about...

Drawing the face of a cartoon hippo Drawing the head of a cartoon hippo

Drawing the mouth of a cartoon hippo Drawing the inner mouth of a cartoon hippo

Important note: the head of this hippo is being viewed halfway between side view and straight on. Keep in mind that some features of the face are being obstructed. Which ones? Well - the right ear for example (depending on how you locate the ears), isn't visible at all. Also, the hippo's tongue obstructs the lower left tooth and right side of the inner mouth.

Even though it is a cartoon - it's important to consider the look of the animal from different animals. But - because it is a cartoon... it doesn't necessarily need to be perfect!

OK - if you've got your hippo head drawn, let's continue to the third step...

Third Step - Bring the Legs and Body into View

I'll just say it -- this part is really easy! You can easily summarize the shapes that compose the legs and body of a hippopotamus as four rectangles and a big oval. Sure - there's more to it than that. But in the 'cartoonish' sense... that's what it comes down to.

Legs followed by the big oval for a body, here's how to go about it...

Drawing the legs of a cartoon hippo Drawing the body of a cartoon hippo

Now instead of just 'rectangles' for legs, I've given them some curvature. Change your hippo's legs in a way that you like. You may want to make them longer... skinner too perhaps!

As for the body - nothing needs to be said! It's an oval - plain and simple. Now, let's finish things off with some final details...

Drawing of a cartoon hippo

Final Step - You've Got a Hippo!

For the final touches, go ahead and sketch in a few details here and there.

Take a look at my hippo's toenails. Kind of strange aren't they! They would look better I'm sure if you erased portions of the lower legs and drew the nails to be overlapping - more '3D'. Something to consider.

Other details? Pupils... the inner ear.... hmmm - I know! Why not give your hippo a big sweater? All it would take are four simple curved lines - three on the legs, and another one just behind the head. Could be interesting! :-)

Anyway - that wraps up this drawing lesson. You've now got a cartoon hippo. How about some color?