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2020, the year of the rat!

As you might know, not every country on this planet follows the Gregorian calendar. While most modern countries have adopted the before mentioned for their official activities, there are still about 40 other calendars actively used, particularly for determining religious dates.


One of these is the lunar calendar in which the ‘new year date’ changes every year, taking place this year on January 25th. The best known of the several variations this calendar comes in, as well as the most popular zodiac, is without a doubt the Chinese edition. Unlike the Western zodiac signs that change every month, there’s a yearly turnaround in the Chinese calendar and 2020 is the year of the rat. Now, that may not exactly sound like something charming you want to be called, but this little fella actually ranks first. (There’s a whole story about how they each scored their place, which you should be able to easily find on the world wide web, in case you’re curious.)

By now you might have guessed what this tutorial is about. Want to know how to draw a cutesy little rat? Look no further, I’ve got you covered!

1. First, draw a triangle with round corners for the head. It should look somewhat like a plectrum.

2. Second, you add a shape which kind of looks like a headless pear… I really have no idea how to describe it, sorry.

3. Next, we’ll give the tiny squeaker a pair of ears. Make them more oval(-ish) than round, or else it’ll look more like a mouse than a rat. You can add a few additional strokes to define the outer and inner ear.

4. In the next step, we give the little guy (or gal) two arms, cute little hands, three fingers, and a thumb on each side. I drew them with soft, wavy lines and left out the nails to make sure my rat would look rather cute than terrifying.

5. Now add a tail, a nose and whiskers, adorable little toes (Upon verification, I noticed that rats actually have five toes… My bad.), and big, delightful eyes.

6. Then we grab our black pens and get ready for the final sprint! As always, you can of course use another colour for your outlines and may carefully erase the sketch underneath once the ink is completely dry.

7. To conclude, give your rat a bit of colour for its fur. I gave mine brown spots. Is it just me or these markings, despite all precautions, make it kind of look like a mouse…?

Well, well, you’ve arrived at the end of this tutorial! Are you going to draw (or paint) a rat? Do you celebrate lunar new year (maybe this article made you want to check it out)? Either way, for the occasion, I drew four more rats holding signs, wishing everyone a happy lunar new year in Chinese, since they’re from the Chinese zodiac. If any of you actually read and maybe even write Chinese, well, sadly I don’t, so the characters are probably an absolute abomination, for which I’m sincerely sorry.

That’s where this tutorial ends and I wish you all, celebrating or not, a very happy lunar new year, and until next time
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Stéphanie K.

Stéphanie K.

Hi, my name is Stéphanie. I'm Luxembourgish, in my late twenties, and a passionate artist. I paint and draw since what feels like forever. Though I do occasionally crack open a tube of acrylic paint, my favourite traditional mediums are a watercolour and alcohol markers. I also do lots of digital pieces. My motifs include all possible things, such as food, plants, characters, and animals, whereas my art style depends much on the subject and reaches from cartoony to semi-realism.

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