In today’s tutorial, we’re going back to the ancient Isle of Crete, to visit with a fierce and deadly Greek mythical creature: the minotaur. After we’ve explored the origins, Emily Fiegenschuh, author and artist of The Explorer’s Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures, will take us through the steps needed to draw this fierce, deadly beast.
The Legend of the Minotaur
King Minos received a mighty gift from the mighty god of the sea, Poseidon: control of the oceans around Crete. Minos promised to sacrifice the first bull he saw to Poseidon to show his gratitude, despite knowing that he did not have one to sacrifice. Poseiden allowed a great white one to appear, but the greedy king kept it for himself and broke his promise.
The angry Poseiden instructed Eros, the god of love, to smite King Minos’ wife Pasiphae with love for the great bull. While under this spell, she became pregnant. The child she conceived was born deformed and grew up to look like a bull, with a brutal, more animalistic amount of strength and intelligence only slightly higher than most animals.
King Minos locked the minotaur in the catacombs under the castle and commissioned a labyrinth so the Minotaur could not escape.
Minos then used the labyrinth to imprison his enemies for the minotaur to prey upon. He shut them up inside the labyrinth, where they either starved or were devoured.
Finally, along came a hero! Theseus volunteered to let himself to be imprisoned in the labyrinth. Theseus fought the mad bull creature and ran it through with his sword, defeating it. He escaped with the help of Minos’ daughter, Ariadne. Ariadne then went on to become Poseidon’s wife and ascended into the stars.
How to Draw a Minotaur
Now it’s time for the drawing lesson. Here are the materials you’ll need for the demo:
acid-free art paper
Emily’s take on the legend:
This powerful monster has the head of a bull, the body of a man and quite an eyebrow-raising story surrounding his origin roams the endless Labyrinth of Crete. Legend has it that each year, seven girls and boys are sacrificed to feed the creature. Though he has a taste for humans, one can’t help but feel a little sorry for the beast, having been thrown into the depths of the Labyrinth at birth because of his freakish appearance. Many would-be heroes have attempted to slay the Minotaur, and their efforts have ended in defeat. Perhaps things would have turned out differently if he had been sent fruits and vegetables rather than teenagers!
1: Start With a Gesture Drawing
Sketch a gesture using a powerful center line. Draw opposing angles for the shoulders and hips, and a sharp angle where the neck meets the body to emphasize the strength of the pose. Block in the head and shoulders with circles. Don’t forget a center line to show where the head is pointing. Form the arms by drawing sticks with circles for the joints.
2: Block In the Body and Muzzle
Keeping in mind the location of the knees and elbows, block in the arms and legs with cylinders. Make them thick and powerful like tree trunks. Since the Minotaur will have hooves, draw his ankles a little higher than you would locate them on a human. Draw rectangular shapes to block in the chest muscles. Block in the Minotaur’s muzzle using a square located low on the head.
3: Pump Up the Minotaur
Flesh out the Minotaur’s impressive muscles using interlocking bubble shapes. Don’t make them too squishy looking; muscles, especially when flexed, should appear strong, not flabby. Draw in the facial features, keeping some reference of cows handy. Cow heads are roughly triangular in shape, tapering toward the top.
4: Refine Muscles, Add Horns and Detail the Face
Erase the old guidelines and darken the lines you’re happy with to refine the muscle forms. Sketch in the outline of the horns. Make them any outlandish size and shape you like. Continue to detail his face, thinking about the emotion you want to convey. Perhaps he’s sad and angry being stuck in the Labyrinth. Lightly sketch out the form of the weapon in his right hand.
Build Up the Details
5: Add Detail to the Head and Hands
Foreshorten the horns so that the one closest to us overlaps itself as it curves back into space. Draw V-shaped frown lines between his eyes. Continue detailing the head and face. Add a thick flap of loose skin hanging from the neck. Block in his wrist guard and the chain around his arm.
6: Continue Adding Detail
Use hatching to help define the forms of the face. Use a heavy line to indicate thick eyelids. Add any other fun details you like, such as battle scars or chips out of his horns. Draw some chunky shapes to block in hair hanging over his horns and forehead. Draw veins pulsating in his arms to make him look even stronger.
7: Use Basic Shapes to Block In Armor
Wrap the armor around his form so it looks like he’s really wearing it. Straps should look like they encircle the arms, legs and chest. Use a straightedge to draw a long, skinny cylinder for the handle of his war hammer.
8: Refine the Armor
Sketch massive overlapping plates on his shoulder armor. Slightly curve the rectangular plates making up the thigh armor to fit the form of the legs. Draw more square shapes to create the armor plates on the shin guards. It’s OK to draw through the war hammer handle as you design the shin guards; erase the extra lines later. Turn the rectangular end of the war hammer into a cylinder by drawing arcing lines wrapping around the top and bottom. We are looking at the hammer from overhead, so the lines should curve downward.
9: Finish the Head
Draw wavy lines to finish off his hair. Add wrinkles to the dewlap on his neck. Texture the horns with rough lines. Add a spike to one end of the hammer head.
10: Have Fun With Details!
Add as many rivets, spikes, straps or stitches to the armor as you’d like. Use a ruler or straightedge to help draw angled sides to show that the war hammer is forged from a strong metal and is very heavy. Draw the head of the hammer so that it overlaps the handle and appears to come forward in space.
So, do you agree with Emily and think the minotaur is just misunderstood? What do you think the story would be like from his perspective?
To learn how to draw even more fantasy creatures, get yourself a copy of The Explorer’s Guide to Drawing Fantasy Creatures and check out our tutorials and videos for more fantasy and sci-fi art, manga, comics and more.