How to Draw Zeus and Poseidon

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Things You'll Need

  • Artist's quality pencil set
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Artist's quality sketch book

Zeus and Poseidon are the two most powerful gods in Greek mythology. Their origins and deeds were originally told in ancient stories such as Hesiod's "Theogeny," where Zeus leads a younger generation of gods to overthrow the tyrannical Titans that preceded them. Zeus is the king of the gods, wielding the power of thunder and lightning from his throne on Olympus, the highest mountain in the world. Poseidon, his brother, wields the powers of water and the ocean with his trident staff. Drawing these divine brothers takes some practice and skill to truly express their incredible presence and power. You can draw them by practicing a few essential principles.

Practice drawing classical sculpture. The iconic physiques of the ancient Greek gods, with their bodies of athletes and their heads of bearded wizards, can best be studied by observing and sketching classical sculptures. Go to museums with your sketch book and look at the dynamic forms and postures. You can also draw from pictures in books or go online to study the body and find poses that you want to draw.

Map out the composition by using large basic shapes and sketching lightly in pencil. Captivating drawings often depend on the composition, or the layout on the picture plane of the largest and most essential forms. Indicate where Zeus or Poseidon will be with only a few lines. Lightly sketch a few simple lines to indicate water and waves for Poseidon, or the clouds and stone among Zeus's seat on Olympus. If you want to draw both brothers in one composition, decide if they are interacting or standing alone in their own spaces.

Draw the basic forms of the gods' bodies. When drawing Poseidon, first sketch lightly where his head and torso are and then draw the large shaft of his trident. Drawing the trident vertically will emphasize a stable and sturdy composition, whereas angling it will suggest a more dynamic composition. When drawing Zeus, sketch the basic shapes of his head and wide chest first. Indicate where the hands are with circles. Decide what the gods are doing with their hands, such as throwing lightning or conveying a more subtle gesture. Use ovals to map out the sections of the legs and arms. For Zeus, sketch the shape of his tunic over his body. For Poseidon, draw some arcing curves flowing around him, especially his lower body, that can be shaped into water later in the process.

Draw the heads and hands. The head and the hands are usually the two most expressive parts of a figure. Look at your hands to find an angle and gesture that you want to use for the gods. You may exaggerate the forms, such as adding immense hands or large eyes. Drawing a smaller head will make the body look much bigger. When drawing the beard and head hair, sketch the head and chin first to better understand the proper placement of the hair. Sketch the larger shapes of the hair before going into detail and drawing individual strands. Think of the hair more in sculptural shapes rather than as thin strands. This will help you to more quickly and expressively draw the form of the hair. If the face or fingers become frustrating, move on and return to them later.

Sketch more detail around the whole composition. Start defining the parts of the torso, tunic and surrounding environment in more detail. Shape the biceps, forearms and shoulders, as well as the curves of the calves if they are shown in your drawing. Draw arcing lines for the ripples in the tunic. Add more definition to the overall physique and keep moving your pencil around the whole composition. Do not focus on any area too long, staying fluid and shifting your gaze back and forth from a part of your drawing to the whole.

Experiment with the elemental qualities surrounding each god. For Zeus, sketch the billowing shapes of large clouds surrounding and behind him. Use the indeterminacy of clouds' shapes as artistic license to create sweeping lines and a bold composition. The kinds of lines you use can express the grace or ferocity of his personality. For Poseidon, use the endless flexibility of water shapes to your artistic benefit. Rolling, curved shapes and lines can dance around him to show his active power; a subdued, calm body of water drawn with one simple line across the horizon can show his patience and elegance. The elements are your opportunity to add dramatic effect and have fun expressing the personalities of the gods.

Draw shadows. Whole areas of the composition, such as the clouds hovering behind Zeus, can be in darkness. Use a blunted side of the graphite to delicately or fiercely darken large areas to indicate shadow. You can shade an entire side of the gods' faces to indicate a dual personality of anger and peace. You can draw Poseidon emerging from dark waters that are almost black in shadow to indicate their endless depth.