Rembrandt and a Lion for my Sketchbook (II)

How to draw a lion quickly

How to draw a lion quickly  | by The Daily Atelier

After I drew my first lion from a sketch by Rembrandt, I could not help but want to draw another one. Rembrandt is very famous for his paintings, but he is equally famous for his drawings. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘His unusual etchings brought him international fame during his lifetime, and his drawings, which in fact were done as practice exercises or as studies for other works, were also collected by contemporary art lovers.’

These drawings are so inspiring!

Last time, we were also reminded of how difficult it was, for a Dutch artist of the 17th century, to draw wild animals live. Reference photography did not yet exist! So Rembrandt, like other artists of his time, kept an album with sketches he made of animals that he saw exhibited at fairs and markets or in the very few menageries that he could visit.

Liggende leeuw. Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1650-1659. Rijksmuseum, De Bruijn-van der Leeuw Bequest, Muri, Switzerland.

In this study, I am also trying to achieve spontaneity and rapidity. I shall be drawing directly with ink, without sketching with pencil first. Also, in contrast to my first study of another lion by Rembrandt, this time I shall be using two different colours of ink and playing with contrasts.


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (Leiden 1606–Amsterdam 1669) was a Dutch painter and printmaker, one of the world’s most famous artists. He is best known for the way in which he captured likenesses of people in portraits, as well as for his realistic depiction of light and shade, which contemporaneous critics sometimes disliked.




For this project, I just used:

  • two brush pens, one brown and one dark blue;

  • paper (my sketchbook).



Step 1 – Drawing the lion’s head

I began by sketching the head – directly with ink. It took me forever to draw the first lines. I think I was probably a little nervous. I felt that drawing the face of the lion would be the most difficult thing, so I took all the time I needed.

Then I relaxed a little, and you can see my drawing picking up speed.

In the short video above, this runs from 00:00 to 00:55. It actually took me 5 minutes.


Step 2 – Drawing the lion with brown ink

Drawing the entire body of the lion was much faster. It took me about half the time it took to draw the face. We are talking a few minutes long here, because the project was meant to be a very quick sketch.

In the short video above, this runs from 00:55 to 02:32. It actually took me 3 minutes.


Step 3 – Adding blue to create dimension

This was maybe the most interesting step of this little project: using a dark blue ink to add dimension and volume to the drawing. It changes everything! And dark blue creates wonderful accents on brown.

In the short video above, this runs from 02:32 to 04:06. It actually took me 7 minutes.


And voilà!

Finished drawing| Rembrandt and a Lion for my Sketchbook, by The Daily Atelier

Another Rembrandt today! Brush pens again, but with different colours. This time I put the accent on the contrast of colours, using a light orangey brown as the primary colour and adding pen strokes in a dark blue. The colours clash and accentuate the volume. And voilà! In about a quarter of an hour, you too can have another page for your sketchbook, and another lion to add to your collection of drawings.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. As always, I do not pretend to be a teacher, a seasoned artist or an expert in anything. I am just a very motivated learner who finds a deep joy in regular art practice.

The finished drawing in my sketchbook |  Rembrandt and a Lion for my Sketchbook , by The Daily Atelier

The finished drawing in my sketchbook | Rembrandt and a Lion for my Sketchbook, by The Daily Atelier


If you liked this post, you will almost certainly like some of these other projects with lions. Enjoy!