“God has made the cat to give man the pleasure of caressing the tiger.” - Victor Hugo
While not as popular as dogs in the UK, cats are still the second most popular pet in the country. Around 16% of households own a cat. Our loves for cats can be seen in art and a lot of artists enjoy drawing their cats.
Why not try it out for yourself?
Here are some tips for drawing cats.
Different Ways to Draw Cats
A lot of artists enjoy drawing animals as it’s a good opportunity to practise certain techniques and also dote on your pets a little bit more.
As we mentioned, cats are among the most popular animals. Whether they’re big or small, cats make good subjects for your drawings. Of course, drawing your cat doesn’t always mean that you have to draw a realistic portrait of them. Look at children’s books, for example. The animals in these are often simplified versions of them. They don’t look realistic but you can still tell that they’re cats.
There are a few different ways to draw cats.
You could opt for a detailed biological illustration as you’d find in a textbook. These types of drawings were often done by scientists before photography was widely available. Botanists and zoologists would draw the new species of plants and animals they discovered while in the field or on a boat. Since there was no photography, these drawings had to be as realistic as possible. Drawing like this takes a lot of patience and skill.
Some artists prefer to draw animals like you’d find them in children’s books. In this case, cats are given more of a personality. However, you can still recognise that it’s a cat.
So what makes a cat recognisable in a drawing?
Slightly pointed ears, the tail, the round face, or the small muzzle.
You also need to think about which technique you’ll use.
Start by getting the materials you’ll need:
- A pencil
- A rubber eraser
- A ruler
Drawing a Realistic Cat
Drawing a realistic cat might be the goal of artists looking to become biological illustrators or at least develop these skills. It takes time, patience, and observation skills so make sure you have a few hours free to perfect your drawing. Your drawing sessions need to be at least an hour in length.
- Planning: Create a grid paper to allow you to correctly proportion the face. You can use this as a guide for where to place the eyes, nose, and mouth, for example.
- Position the facial features: It’s often recommended when drawing people or animals that you start from the features. Line up the eyes and nose on your grid.
- Outline the cat’s face: Once you’ve got the features placed, you can create the cat’s outline. You want to make sure that it’s symmetrical. While things are rarely perfectly symmetrical in real life, the symmetry will help you to avoid weird or unnatural looking drawings.
At this point, you’ll still be sketching out your ideas. Sketching is an important part of drawing as the artist can get down the main features and lines on the page. In a lot of cases, the majority of lines you make during this phase will be erased or covered up later.
Once you’ve got the sketch done, you can then start adding the details to your drawing with pencil, pen, felt-tips, coloured pencils, pastels, charcoal, acrylic paints, watercolours, etc.
This is when you’ll probably draw the cat’s fur. Some drawings are more detailed than others. It all depends on the type of drawing that you want to do.
You can look for drawing tutorials online. When it comes to drawing fur, a mechanical pencil can be useful. With its fine graphite tip, you can create the details. There are also tutorials online for this, too.
Again, the grid will help you put everything in its proper place. For the darker areas, you’ll want a pencil with darker lead. You’d be surprised just how detailed you can make your drawing.
Drawing Stylised Cats
Not everyone wants their drawing to be realistic. Some would like their drawings to be more abstract with fewer fine details. The cat still has to be recognisable, though.
Whether it’s to get better at Pictionary or show your child how to do it, here are a few steps you should follow:
- Start with an oval for the cat’s head.
- Place two round eyes in the centre and colour them completely black except for two small marks that you’ll leave white.
- Draw two lines over the eyes for the eyebrows.
- You can then use a dot in the middle of the face for the nose.
- You can use a sideways 3 for the cat’s mouth.
- Now you need to place the ears. To do this, you want to draw two little mountains on either side of the head.
- Finally, draw the body as a trapezium with rounded corners. You can draw a little “U” for each leg.
- Finish by drawing the cat’s tails with whichever markings you like.
Again, check online for useful video tutorials and guides.
How to Get Better at Drawing Cats
Each artist can work on their drawing. After all, learning to draw is a lifelong pursuit. If you’re interested in drawing cats, you can keep practising drawing different cats.
If you want to teach yourself how to draw, you’ll need to be motivated. There are many exercises and ways to practise. If you’re teaching yourself, you may want to invest in books on drawing. There are many books on how to draw animals and cats. These books can show you how to draw different breeds, how to represent the fur, and practical tips to make your drawings better.
Some recommended books include:
- Draw 50 Cats: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Domestic Breeds, Wild Cats, Cuddly Kittens, and Famous Felines by Lee J. Ames
- Cattitude: Drawing Cats for Creative People by Lulu Mayo
- How to Draw Cats and Kittens: A Complete Guide for Beginners by J. C. Amberlyn
You can also look at more general books on art and drawing to learn more about different techniques and media like watercolour, charcoal, or pastels, for example.
The internet is also home to plenty of guides and tutorials to help you through the process. There are websites with a lot of good advice from other artists.
Again, the best advice is to practise. The more you draw, the better you’ll get.
Why not draw a cat at least once a week?
By drawing regularly, you’ll get into the habit of doing it and also learn from your mistakes. Over time, your drawings will get better.
The advantage that cats are quite common animals and pets means that you have a lot of opportunities to observe them. Don’t hesitate to look at them and how they move. You can do sketches that can serve as the foundation for more detailed drawings. You can also observe how these animals behave, allowing you to better represent them on paper.
If you’re struggling to learn on your own, you can always take drawing lessons. Drawing lessons are good opportunities to work on your skills and get valuable feedback from a teacher or other members of the class.
How to Draw Kittens
The only things cuter than cats are kittens. While drawing a kitten is a lot like drawing a cat, there are certain features you have to change as the proportions are different. You can find a lot of video tutorials online on how to draw kittens.
Just have fun and practise!
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Don't forget that many of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson or hour for free. You can use these sessions to try out several tutors before choosing which one is right for you.