How to Draw a Realistic Cat?

In this guide, you will learn how to draw a cat with great realism step by step, easily.

cartoon tabby cat on pink background

easy to draw a cat

Drawing animals is often tricky, but you’ll be proud of yourself today!

In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a cat for it to be realistic and compelling, even in sketch form. To make your image as realistic as possible, we’ll start withobservationthen one quick sketch. And finally, the structure (backbone) and refinement of your cat drawing.

Many people think that because animals are covered in fur, you don’t have to worry about their anatomy. But the best way to draw an animal is to to understand what is hiding under the fur.

So, let’s take a look at the steps to learn how to draw a beautiful, but most importantly, realistic cat.

As I told you, if you want to draw a funny cat easily with your children, go to our blog article by clicking on the link above.

01. Choose a reference photo (model)

beautiful tabby cat

Note: Cats always move the same way.

The best way to you familiarize with anatomy of a cat is to find a certain number of Pictures of cats in random positions or to observe yours even if he may find you weird!

You can also read our article: Top 10 cutest cats to inspire you!

It will help you better understand how cats move, sit, jump, play, etc. What is important to understand is that no matter their size or furall cats move about the same way.

02. Start with quick sketches

sketch cats sitting standing and lying

Note: Because we learn better by drawing than by looking, to your pencils !

try tosketch quickly some of the poses from your observations or from a photo you have chosen.

Do not focus on the precision of the lines but try to quickly capture the essence of the movements. These first sketches will give you a better idea of the cat structure. The best way to learn is to draw…

To get even more out of this exercise, you might want to slightly exaggerate the cartoon cat movement. This can help you better understand the animal’s movements and how its body works.

03. Choose a pose

standing cat drawing

Note: Choose what you want your cat to do

When you’ve done a few sketches, it’s time to choose a pose. I decided to go for both a walking pose and a side view. The anatomy of the animal will thus be highlighted and the stages of the drawing will be clear.

04. Draw the skeleton

draw cat anatomy and skeleton

Note: Simplify the skeletal structure.

To find the structure, you need to start by sketching skeleton” of the cat you want to draw.

You can find many skeleton drawings on the internet by searching: “cat anatomy” or by Clicking HERE.

But be careful, you only need some information. Observe the proportions between skullthe rib cage and the bowl as well as the distances between them.

Observe them joints from front and back legs, and in which direction they bend. Observe the bone under the tail and at the top of the hind legs, which protrudes backwards.

This may sound boring but take these a few minutes of observation and you will be very proud of yourself!

Draw now a simplified version of the skeleton. If you are working on drawing software, draw your skeleton sketch on a separate layer.

If you are working in pencil, draw very light lines so that they don’t overpower the final drawing, you can always erase them later.

05. Add the muscles

draw cat muscles

Note: Work to establish the proportions of your cat

The next step is to add from muscles to your skeleton. As for the skeleton, I do not suggest to draw all the muscles but to reproduce the essential.

This step consists of capture the cat shape and establish its proportions.

Use wider strokes to find the shapes of the legs and pay attention to how the lines wrap around the joints. Make sure the shapes are solid and avoid blurry or uncertain lines.

Beneath all their fur, cats are muscular and stronger than you think!

06. Focus on dynamics (weight…)

draw the cat's hind legs

Since we draw our cat in movement, each leg performs a different task and carries a different load (weight). The left rear leg and the right front leg support the most big part of the weight and help the cat in its balance. The two other legs opposites are more relaxed.

The left front leg, although still carrying some weight, stretches forward to take another step. The right hind leg completes the previous step and is about to be completely lifted off the ground. It is essential to pay attention to this kind of details for create a realistic drawing.

07. Draw the face

draw a cat face

Don’t fall into the trap to draw a childish cat like the hello kitty cat! But after all, it also depends on what you are looking to express.

It is very important to put the head of your cat proportion. Pay attention to the proportions between the earsthe eyesthe nose and the mouth.

It’s very easy to fall into a clichéd approach and give your cat a really big nose, big eyes and cute little ears!

Depending on the species of cat, the size of the ears can vary. In this case, the ears are bigger than you think, so be sure to get them. compare with the rest of the head. Also note how the head connects to the neck and how the neck extends into the chest.

08. Have straight eyes

Ginger maine coon cat head

The eyes from cats often seem more big because of the lighter color or patterns of the fur around them. In addition, the irises extend over the entire visible part of the eye, which also gives the impression that eyes are very highlights.

09. Refine facial features

finish drawing cat head

The time has come to to design with some lines stronger, darker and more defined.

If you work traditionally, use a thicker pencil and use more pressure. If you are working digitally, switch to a new layer while keeping previous layers at a lower opacity.

Refine the shapes of eyesof the blocked and nose (notice how it looks like the letter ‘T’). Add pupils to the eyes.

Depending on the cat, you can choose to draw the eyes narrower or more open. Don’t forget the mustachesthey make a huge difference!

At this stage, you are about to finalize your first realistic cat drawing. At this rate, you will soon be able to make your first Cat T Shirt !

10. Add fur

drawing of a cat without the coat

Note: The thickness of the fur varies on the cat’s body.

Now that the anatomy is in place, all you have to do is add a layer of skin and fur to the body and to refine the shapes of the head.

Remember that with the exception of a few species, most cats have fur all over their body.

The fur of the cat tends to vary in thickness depending on the part of the body it covers: it is shorter around the head and legs and becomes thicker and longer on the body, especially on the belly and tail. Use of small strokes to indicate the texture.

Also note how the skin behaves on the animal depending on the position it is in. In this pose, on the left front and right back leg, the skin stretches, while behind the right front leg, it wrinkles.

11. Add the final touch

realistic drawing of a beautiful tabby cat

Note: Remember that all designs will wrap around the body

If the cat you are drawing has a characteristic furadd these details. Delete the sketch lines visible ones (if you’re working in pencil) or turn off sketch layers (for digital artists).

In this case, I decided to draw stripes of my cat. Pay attention to the darkness of your strokes, as they can quickly overpower the entire drawing. Use subtle shading linesand be sure to follow the shapes of the cat’s body.

Draw fur patterns (especially stripes) can add a lot of depth to your sketch. However, if it is not done correctly, the image may on the contrary become flattened.

try vary the length, width and shape of your cat’s stripes. They are usually thicker on the tail, body and upper limbs. And thinner around the head and lower legs.

Add someshadow under the paws of your cat to indicate the floor and sit your cat.

Finally, if you feel like it, get out your colored pencils or paint and let the artist in you express himself!

And as always at ChatChou, we end with a short video that will show you how to draw a realistic cat’s head:

To your pencils!

draw a cat easily with children

Feline from ChatChou!

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