How to Draw the Nativity Scene

nativity image by Simon Amberly from

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Colored pencils (optional)

During Christmas, many images are iconic, including Santa Claus, snowflakes and snowmen. However, no scene captures the meaning and origin of Christmas like the Nativity scene. Drawing the Nativity scene can be a great gift for someone in itself, or you can use it for custom Christmas cards, invitations or church bulletins. Capture the meaning and feeling of Christmas by learning to draw the Nativity scene, where it all began.

Decide who you want to include in the Nativity in addition to Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus--possibly shepherds, the three wise men and some animals.

Draw general shapes for each character for placement.

Fill in shapes for the faces and larger details, such as arms and parts of the clothing.

Draw a manger--a narrow box with two wooden planks at the end, usually in an X formation. If you have difficulty with that, merely draw the general shape of a square and have the straw overflow.

Fill in further details from the general shapes for faces and hands. Erase some of the unneeded lines.

Fill in definitive details, such as patterns on fabric, straw details and eyelashes.

Add shadow and light to make the Nativity scene feel like it is at night and give it more drama. Think of the baby Jesus being a very bright candle and the light from him is lighting his parents in an otherwise dark night.

Color the Nativity scene using colored pencils or leave it as a graphite drawing.


  • Take as long per step as you need. Add more elements, such as a star or candles or even holiday elements that may not be historically accurate, like a Christmas tree.