How to Draw a Triceratops


Another very interesting dinosaur, the triceratops is especially known for the three 'rhino-like' horns it has on it's forehead and snout.

Now, something to keep in mind. Unlike the other lessons up til now, I decided to label this one as 'Advanced' as the head can be pretty tricky to draw.

Also, if you've ever seen pictures of this dinosaur (or it's cousins!) in books, you'll see that similar to the head of a dragon... there are a number of different ways it can look. So because this is a cartoon, I thought it would be fun to combine some features from other dinosaurs from the ceratopsia family like the anchiceratops and the pentasaurus.

Well, here we go - off to draw a triple-horned 'ceratopish' dinosaur!...

Three-shape framework for drawing a triceratops

First Step - Simple Shapes

Now that you're all set to get drawing your cartoon triceratops, first go ahead and draw a simple guideline like the one you see to the left.

Three shapes - an oval, a small rectangle and a circle... do very nicely for the core framework of your dinosaur.

And when you have the first of the framework complete, take a look at how the head area comes together. This part is tricky, even though I do my best to simplify it. Besides, a quick look at the head of a triceratops and well... I'm sure you can agree that it's pretty complex-looking!

Side by side, here's a look at how to construct the head portion of your triceratops framework...

Laying out the head of a cartoon triceratops Drawing the framework for the shield of a triceratops

You may find it easier to use actual shapes instead of simple lines like I did up top. But in truth, the lines keep everything simple, making it easier on the eyes when it comes down to focusing on and drawing specific parts of the head.

It helps to take a look up top at the finished dinosaur drawing to help you see how each line plays a role. But to summarize, the first line at about 'Twelve O'Clock' on the circle is the front of the 'head shield' that extends out from behind the head of the animal. At 'Two O'Clock', you've got the forehead horns... and then at 'Four O'Clock' you've got the snout, along with another horn and a downward-pointing beak.

Complete framework for a triceratps drawing

The green curved line will later become the core part of the head shield. I kept this one a different color as it helps to view this part separately... again, making things easier on the eyes!

Once the head is ready for drawing, the body of the triceratops is pretty straight-forward. And, similar to the stegosaurus, you've got a large circle (or oval), a triangle for the tail, and two rectangles for the limbs.

Next, let's get to the actual drawing -- beginning with the head...

Drawing the spikes of a cartoon triceratops

Second Step - Drawing the Head

Drawing the head of a triceratops is very similar to drawing the head of a dragon. It's not so much that they look the same, but rather that they can be equally complex - especially when it comes to the horns!

My recommendation - begin by drawing small horns along the curved green line that is to become the outer part of the head shield. Draw the horns each about the same size.

Actually - if you want, leave these horns out. I added these as extra horns as I thought it would look neat - a nod to some of the less-popular members of the ceratopsia group. A simple wavy line along the curve will do just fine for the top part of the head shield - and actually... this would be more how it's supposed to look!

Drawing the mouth of a cartoon triceratops Continuing with the head of a cartoon triceratops The head of a cartoon triceratops

With the head shield horns in place, move on to drawing the rest of the face of your cartoon triceratops. It's best to draw in key details first - such as the horns and the eye. Once they are in place, go ahead and draw in the outlines that make up the snout and head shield. Save smaller final details such as the nostril, head shield lines, and eye marking, for last.

Well, as tedious as it may have seemed... you're well on your way to completing this dinosaur! Now, let's get going with the rest of the body...

Third Step - Give Your Triceratops a Body

Likewise with the stegosaurus lesson, the next step in drawing your cartoon triceratops is to use the framework as a guideline as you draw the back and tail of the dinosaur. Like so...

Drawing the back and tail area of a cartoon triceratops

Now, move on to draw each limb on the right side of the dinosaur - the right front leg, and the right back leg. Use the rectangles to help keep proportion...

Drawing the outer legs of a cartoon triceratops

And finally... complete your cartoon triceratops by drawing in the remaining two limbs. After drawing the belly and neck lines, this step becomes fairly easy and is done the same way as you did to draw the stegosaurus in the previous lesson...

A complete cartoon triceratops drawing

And that's pretty much it. All that remains now, is drawing in a few more details of your own to make this cartoon dinosaur different from all the others...

Final Step - Draw the Details

Unlike the stegosaurus, the triceratops doesn't really have any overly distinct features on its back and tail. Of course, the three horns and shield on its head, obviously make up for this. Still, you can have some fun here if you like by adding a unique design of your own.

Cartoon triceratops picture

In my case, I drew a couple rows of 'studs', perhaps small protruding areas of spine, somewhat like the plates on the stegosaurus. As you can see, something simple like this really gives the drawing an extra-special look.

And other than that... you got it -- you're done!

The cartoon triceratops lesson is officially 'under your belt'! Very nice work, and please come on back soon for another cool cartoon dinosaur drawing lesson! :-)