How to draw a cat's face

with colored pencils on white paper

I've been drawing for more than 10 years and at the end of 2014, I decided to share my experience with those interested in drawing as I receive questions and queries about drawing from my followers and watchers on a daily basis. Most of their queries are to know what medium or style I use on my drawings, why did I choose them and how did I come up with those results. And with all these clamoring, I came up with a solution by writing books about my drawing experiences and share my extensive knowledge. I am selling these how-to-draw books online and most of them are listed in Amazon - my Author's Page and Books and I am really surprised how many people buy them and want to draw; others are just curious about the process of drawing, want to peek behind the curtain at how such work is done and want to have some nice book with interesting drawings. This makes me more inspired to do more and provide and share my knowledge in drawing through making books.

Learn to Draw

If you've ever wondered how I draw, here you can take a look at the process and read a short explanation of each step. If you also draw and want to improve on it, try to follow me through this step-by-step drawing tutorial. This time we draw a Siamese cat's face and we don't need many colored pencils.

For this drawing I used Lyra, Faber-Castell and Prismacolor colored pencil and wax Prismacolor colorless blender. I would recommend a two types of colored pencils: for the thinner parts and edges use the harder colored pencils such as Faber-Castell or Lyra and for creating a smooth texture use a soft colored pencil such as Prismacolors. Prismacolor pencils are wax based and very soft. Polychromos are oil based and harder. The harder, the better for details. Which one is better for you is something you should try out.You can also use a colorless blender, but for blending the drawn areas you can use even a white colored pencil. You don't have to get all the existing nuances of colored pencils; learn to mix them up and create a color that you don't even have. Of course, it's easier if you can afford a bigger set of pencils. If you are not much experienced in drawing, you should use a graphite pencil for sketching, because unlike the colored pencils they can be easily erased.

You should make your sketch as proportional as possible. If you find difficult to create a proportional sketch, you can use a grid-method as many artists do. Some of the advanced artists use only two-three lines in their grid, because this is enough for the orientation. If you're using the grid-method, your sketching can go much faster, not to mention that there's much less erasing and the paper stays smooth and clear. Try to draw a main lines freehand and use the grid only if the things don't look good and proportional in your sketch. Take time and patience for drawing the main lines, because they are the base of your drawing. In the next image you can see how it works, I've made one sample of my drawing. Draw a grid, with mechanical pencil using a ruler, over the reference photo and draw a grid on a blank paper. Keep in mind that if you press hard you will leave impressed lines on your paper that will show up after applying your colored pencil on top, so keep the pressure light. So, draw the main lines of the squares of reference photo to the squares of your paper. Once you're finished with your sketch, erase the grid lines.

To save your time drawing grid lines, download my Android app Grid Drawing Tool, and create a perfect grid on your reference photos within a couple of seconds:

Get the colored pencils I use: Amazing Prismacolor Premier set of 150 pencils (you can buy exactly the same pencils I use after clicking the link/image below). Buy this set now while cheap (it may not stay cheap for long!) The Best Prismacolor Colored Pencils

Reference photo:

Your sketch should look like mine (see the next image). I've created only few main lines for orientation.

Let's start this cat from the darkest parts. Using well sharpened black colored pencil, draw carefully over the main lines. Having strengthened the main lines, you can focus on building the black fur. Start to draw the short hair between the eyes and continue creating the long hairs, drawing them outwards from this black area in the middle of the cat's face. Always check the reference photo to learn about the direction of the hair growth, so you can draw in the same direction. Draw the edges of the ears. I won't draw the whole ears, but only as much as we can see in the reference photo, because I want to focus on the cat's face. However, you can (you should, for the sake of practice) draw the whole ears, checking the shape of the cat's ears in some other cat's reference photo, if unsure. As you move toward the edges of the paper, apply less pressure as the hair found further from the nose is not that black anymore and we are going to apply other colors over it in the next steps.

Let's continue drawing the eyes, so that our drawing can start to come to life. Just use the same pencils as I've used and draw carefully and with patience. Don't rush and move to the next step only if you are completely satisfied with your result. Using Prismacolor Light Cerulean Blue (you can use any other light blue pencil), draw the whole pupils except for the areas next to the lower eyelids and for the reflections of the light. Thoughtfully analyze my next step and you'll notice that I've drawn around the reflection of the light leaving it white. Do the same and if you make sure that everything looks fine, press hard, layering as you go in order to achieve the smooth texture. Be sure to keep your pencil sharp to get fine edges. The eyes require much more effort than the hair, so take your time for these areas and draw them slowly.

In the next step I've used Lyra 2820044 (dark blue) pencil, because this pencil is harder than Prismacolor, yet creamy and has a high pigment concentration. Using this pencil, I draw (over the previously drawn blue) the stellate pattern in the iris and the shadowed parts of the irises next under the upper eyelids.

Download my Color Picker for Artists app, pick a color from the reference photo, and the app will suggests which colored and graphite pencil to use.

Using grey, draw the lower and upper eyelids filling up the remained blank areas between the eyes and black fur.

I would suggest you to watch me drawing this cat in my time-lapse video bellow. You learn best personally when you work as you watch someone else working instead of just pictures. However, the pictures do give an idea of how to use the techniques, and if you observe both - scanned steps in this tutorial and time-lapse video - you can see the process of drawing and notice the things that I haven't mentioned. Drawing is a visual art and can hardly be explained only by words. Replay the parts of the video you haven't understood yet, more times. By watching, you can learn more and faster.

Using the same pencil, draw the nose. You can whether use the same grey pencil for the whole area of the nose, applying different pressure as you draw the shadows and highlights or use the light and dark grey pencils for creating these parts of the nose.

Carefully blend the top of the nose, using white pencil. You can use wax colorless blender or blending stump for this. Continue to build the fur, using grey pencil, drawing the lines over the ends of the drawn black hair.

Using light grey pencil, draw the short shiny black hair between the eyes. This part is actually hardly visible, that's why I've put it in a red circle in the next image.

In the next step I'm finishing the fur, using dark brown pencil and wax colorless blender. So, using well sharpened dark brown colored pencil, draw the rest of the hair that surround the black hair. Start to draw over the ends of the black hair (this way softening it) and draw the long brown hair outwards from the center of the cat's face. I also used a light grey pencil for softening the hair.

Once again, check for the direction of the hair growth in the reference photo. Draw the ears, using the same brown pencil and go over the drawn black areas as well. This way you'll soften the ears and they will appear lifelike. Also draw the hairs that grow on the edges of the ears, using this brown pencil. Since we want the fur to look really soft, we have to blend it. For this I'm using wax Prismacolor colorless blender following the previously drawn brown hair, drawing over the hairs and beyond their tops. If you don't have this blender, you can use white colored pencil, but only over the tops of the brown hairs. Last, add the whiskers, using white ink gel pen.

Final drawing:

If you liked this tutorial, check out my tutorial on how to draw a proportional, realistic cat out of imagination, without using reference photo:

Get my Big Book on How to Draw Animals on Amazon.

Posted by Jasmina Susak on Friday, March 18, 2016

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