Learning to draw cats Automatic translate
The most common mistake artists who are just starting to draw animals is to distort the proportions between the different parts of the body of the drawing object. Therefore, when working with living nature, as well as displaying architectural structures, it is very important first of all to measure all parts of the object with a pencil.
Hold the pencil in an outstretched hand so that the point coincides with the top of the measured part of the object, and the thumbnail is at its lower level. Without lifting your finger from the pencil, bring it closer to the paper and transfer the result to it.
A useful way when portraying cats is to find out the height of the cat’s head and use this value as a unit of measurement. Count how many such “heads” fit in a feline body. In adult cats and kittens, this value will be different.
Another way to check your accuracy is to draw a vertical line in the middle of the sheet. It will become the vertical axis of the cat’s body, and the location of the remaining parts of the body can be verified on this vertical. Holding the pencil upright, you will understand where the paws and shoulders of the kitten should be in relation to this axis.
Before you start drawing cats, it is useful to familiarize yourself with the basic principles of their anatomy. Cats have two hind legs, two forepaws, a trunk, a neck and a head. And, of course, do not forget about the tail, the hallmark of most kittens. Cat’s paws make up about one third of the body length. Typically, a cat is taller in the hips than in the shoulders and the height of the cat’s body is proportional to the height of its head.
Choosing an angle
If you draw a sitting cat in front, imagine its head in the form of a square, and the body in the form of a rectangle proportional to the height of the head. Ears are also necessarily proportional to the head.
Use the middle vertical as the main axis and draw the whole body according to this axis. Try to notice everything that you can see from this point. Pay attention to how many paws of a sedentary cat you see and how they are located relative to the axis. When depicting a standing cat, again imagine its head in the form of a square. The body of the animal is about four head lengths, and the tail is two to two and a half heads. Note that the hind legs are much longer than the front, and both are shorter than the length of the body.
The head of a small kitten is much larger in relation to the body than that of an adult cat, the neck is shorter, and the ears seem quite large. But the legs are short and wide. The proportions of the muzzle of a small kitten are also not the same as those of a cat: eyes are larger, and nose and mouth are proportionally smaller.
To truly portray a cat, you need to give the picture volume. To do this, observe how light falls and reflects on it. The cat’s body is divided into a wide range of tones - from very light to midtones and very dark, as a result of which a huge number of highlights and shadows outline convex and concave surfaces. Take a closer look at the object and try to figure out the direction and intensity of the light.
In strong, direct light, sharp dark shadows appear. Light pouring from several sides gives rise to softer shadows, muffling the expressiveness of the volumetric form. Do not try to convey all colors at once. Start with as few tones as possible, such as white and several shades of gray. As you practice, you will learn to use a wider range of tones, conveying all the color shades.
To apply shadows, start learning with blocks. Perform the first sketches as if the animal was made of cardboard, the numerous planes of which are turned to the light source at different angles. Use a narrow range of tones to represent shadows on all planes that are turned away from the light, and even darker tones will be needed for places such as the belly, onto which a shadow falls from neighboring parts of the animal’s body.
We break a complex form into a number of simple ones.
At first, most likely you will be scared by the complexity of the cat’s appearance, the incredible plasticity of the animal and the characteristic of its movements. This is especially true of attempts to portray a cat in some unusual perspective. However, the body of the animal, like any animate or inanimate object of your drawing, can be represented as the sum of the individual parts.
In each of these parts into which you mentally divide your object, try to see a simple and familiar geometric shape - a circle, square, oval or triangle. Thanks to this, you can even cope with the most difficult pose of a cat or other animal.
Constantly train in the application of forms. Always follow the steps. Start with a rough sketch depicting the main shape and pose. Then, gradually add all the new details, starting with the eyes and face, and then proceed to the study of the whole body.
Exercise in the transfer of poses and figures is easier on shorthair cats. And when you already feel more confident, try to draw a long-haired cat, like a Persian, using the same basic contours. It’s much harder to see a cat’s figure under a fluffy fur coat, so take a look at the experience gained in portraying short-haired brothers.
Draw the head
The muzzles of all cats consist of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, mustache, and all length ratios between them are exactly the same (with slight changes, depending on the breed and age of the cat). Seen from the front, this ratio of lengths can be conveyed by dividing the muzzle in a simple way.
Draw a central vertical line dividing the muzzle in half. Then add horizontal lines running at equal intervals: the tips of the ears, forehead, top of the eyes, nose. It turns out something like a ladder, in which each step is located at an equal distance from the neighboring ones. Draw two more vertical lines passing through the outer corners of the eyes, and then two diagonals crossing this central grid and diverging rays from the nose to the very edges of the muzzle. These ratios are always the same.
Such a grid can be used as a base model for all frontal images of the cat’s face, regardless of the small differences that exist. You can apply the individual characteristics of the animal later, when the basic proportions and forms are determined.
All features of the face seem unchanged, but if you look at the cat at an angle, it seems that they are moving. For example, on a cat’s face, turned in three quarters, all the main features are visible in perspective and a more distant eye, naturally, seems smaller than the one closer to you. In a cat, turned in profile, you do not see the whole face, but you should always think over what you can not see at the moment in order to preserve the logic of the picture.
The easiest way to learn how to draw a cat’s head is using the block method. Imagine the head of an animal in the form of planes located at different angles to each other. Parallel planes will always remain parallel, regardless of the angle at which you look at them. The features closer to you will seem to be shortened - this is also the result of perspective.
In order not to be mistaken, draw with a pencil (barely noticeable) the auxiliary lines in those places where you need them - then you can always remove them. And constantly during work, check the correct proportions between the individual elements of the muzzle. Before embarking on an image of a cat’s face, it is useful to remember the following tips.
First, use geometric shapes. In front, the cat’s muzzle seems either round or wedge-shaped. The eyes are also round, and the nose and ears are triangular.
Second, consider symmetry. The face of a cat, like our own face, has almost complete symmetry. It is important to remember about it when you outline the position of the eyes, ears and cheeks in a figure that is not a direct view of the full face.
Third, use an auxiliary grid. Apply all the lines with a soft pencil (3B or 2B), so that they turn out to be very weak and they can then be easily erased or hidden under other details and hatching.
Start the drawing with a simple arbitrary circle divided into equal quarters by vertical and horizontal lines drawn through the center. On crossed lines, you can outline the position of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Remember that the eyes always seem to be located in the middle of the muzzle. Draw them on a line through the center, initially in circles, and then add diagonal lines to determine where the eyebrows begin. Remember that the nose has the shape of a triangle and is located in the middle between the center of the muzzle and the chin. Place the animal’s mouth approximately halfway between the nose and chin. We remind you that these proportions are true for most feline animals.
“Revive” the drawing, using the texture
The most important aspect when portraying cats is the creation of a realistic texture of the animal’s hair. In addition, this is one of the most interesting and enjoyable tasks, since the huge variety of cat hair types - long and short, soft and wire - creates opportunities for experimentation and the search for new expressive means. Before you start creating the texture, carefully consider the cat that you are going to draw.
Can you at first glance determine what a cat’s hair looks like? Please also note that one cat has several different types of texture at once: the collar can be lush, the legs are bare enough, the cheeks, forehead and stomach are soft and fluffy, the eyes are transparent and shiny.
Different types of textures can be conveyed in different ways. Lubricate the pencil line with your finger, creating a soft and delicate effect, devoid of sharpness. Take smooth or coarse paper to emphasize the texture of the coat, for example, the glossy smoothness of a Siamese cat, whose coat can be emphasized by smearing the lines with a finger and revealing the texture of the paper. When conveying a long-haired texture, be sure to apply strokes in the direction of growth of cat hair.
Please note that the hairs do not always lie in the same direction: the hair on the cat’s muzzle diverges from the nose in all directions, as well as on the chest. The texture of your drawing does not have to accurately convey the texture of the animal.
To create an interesting and unexpected effect, you yourself can come up with an unusual texture, for example, laying a sheet of paper on some uneven surface - like sandpaper or a wooden board - and then gently rubbing the paper with the back of your pencil. A rough texture will enliven your drawing, the main thing - do not overdo it, otherwise damage the paper. Be sure to experiment and look for different ways to transfer textures.
Different breeds of cats can be distinguished by the pattern on the skin and the type of coat itself. The difference is very significant - the stocky long-haired representative of the Persian breed differs sharply from a slender short-haired Siamese cat. In some animals, the hairline consists of both short and long hairs.
In addition to the length of the coat, cats differ in color and pattern on the skin. Their color range is very wide - from lilac, gray and blue, to cream, orange, red, chocolate and black with a huge variety of intermediate shades and halftones.
It is very entertaining to depict cats, because they are very different: with clear or blurry spots, small or large stripes, even the so-called tortie color - a combination of black, white and orange. Carefully look at the drawing on the skin - often it does not cover the whole body of the cat, but only its part, while the other part can be monophonic or have an excellent pattern.
It is good to experiment with the texture and color of the cat’s coat by drawing a cat silhouette and making several copies of it. Then draw various stripes and marks on it, long or short hair and compare the resulting visual effect.
Add some emotions
The most difficult thing is to catch the expression of a cat’s face. But each individual has not only his own unique features, but also an individual expression. Some cats have a wary or frightened look, others look at the world with curiosity, while others have an unusual “eyebrow” color that gives them a funny or strict expression. Therefore, to cope with this difficult task is possible only with the help of quick sketches of all the expressions on the cat’s face, which you can notice.
Try to catch cat’s emotions and pay attention to how the face of the animal changes. Even in fleeting sketches, you can tell a lot about the nature of the cat. Pay great attention to the shape of the eyes, ears and mouth.
Often the mood changes of the animal are very subtle. So, if the cat tilted her head slightly, this may indicate her uncertainty or thoughtfulness: she does not yet know who this new person is, friend or foe. A downcast head in combination with half-closed eyes can be a sign of pleasure from affection or satiety. Cats and small kittens have different facial expressions. A kitten often looks at the outside world with a silly curiosity, while in adult cats the muzzle is more wise and very restrained. This difference can be seen in large wild representatives of the cat family.
Live cats are restless sitters, they change their position all the time, unless they sleep. So, you most likely will not be able to complete a detailed drawing at a time, be patient and constantly practice. Only great practice will allow you to quickly and accurately portray these plastic animals over time.
It’s quite convenient to practice the image of cats in a small notebook. And do not worry if its sheets are filled with unfinished sketches; You can always return to them if you want. Draw a cat from different points to better understand how her body moves and how her muscles work.
The main thing at this stage is not to get stuck in the image of minor details, it is better to add them later. Try to focus on one selective aspect of the cat: its shape, coat, movements or facial expressions.
Keep in mind that you will have to make a lot of very quick sketches in order to manage to convey the shape and energy of the cat before it changes position. Always carry a notebook with you, replenishing a variety of cat-like images.
Later, based on several sketches, you can perform one high-quality drawing. True, a sketch also sometimes has to be done in several successive stages. Start with the most basic form, trying to portray as much as possible until the cat begins to move again. Then you can add something from memory, work out a separate pose and outline specific details, for example, the expression of the face. You can draw several cats at once using sketches from your notebook. Place them as naturally as possible, giving the impression that you were drawing them all at the same time.
We approached the most important aspect of fine art - the construction of composition. Composition - this is the placement and grouping of individual elements on the surface of the picture. You decide how to build your drawing yourself, and it does not have to accurately reflect what you see. Making a picture, as in the case of a photograph, you choose one composition from many options.
When choosing an image object, think about what kind of impression you want to make with your drawing. A cat can be depicted alone or in a group. Or maybe you’d like to express it not whole, but just your head for expressiveness, but at the same time conveying its expression and individual character.
To facilitate your task, use the frame method: from a piece of cardboard or thick paper, cut out two corner shapes, make a frame out of them and point it at the object and its various parts. Move the frame, change its size and shape from a square to a rectangle, until you find the one that will look most impressive.
Professional artists often make such a frame with their hands, composing it from two palms, with thumbs perpendicularly bent. Be sure to consider the balance of the elements of your drawing. When portraying a group of cats, arrange the animals to improve the overall contours of your composition. Carefully consider the focus point of the viewer’s attention.
Perhaps you want to make a rough sketch first and calculate how best to position the image object. After that, sketch a grid of faint pencil lines on the surface of the paper. Using this grid, you will accurately transfer individual elements of your sketches to the final drawing, while maintaining all the planned proportions and a clear compositional balance.
If you take photographs as a reference material, you will get extensive access to the image object, since not all the animals that you want to portray can or will want to pose for you.
Use photos from magazines, books and family albums. Most importantly, remember that drawing from a photograph does not mean exact copying at all.
Ultimately, you can and should improve on your drawing what you see in the photo, emphasizing certain expressive aspects - such as stripes on the skin or facial expressions of the face. Do not forget that you draw solid, rounded objects, and not simple flat surfaces, and try to bring into your work liveliness, which may not be in the photograph that served you as the original.
Drawing from a photograph is a good exercise to help you cope with rather difficult tasks. Thanks to this, you will learn how to more accurately convey feline facial expressions and plastic, performing drawings from nature.
Make a difference
Domestic cats are divided into longhair and shorthair, but within these two groups there are many breeds, and each breed has its own varieties. Although most cats look basically alike and have pretty much in common, like curiosity or independence, they all show differences in appearance and behavior.
For example, Persian cats are stocky and tightly folded, they are kind and contact. Shorthair cats from North America are calm and hardy, and Abyssinian cats have very thin skeleton bones and a rather unusual, lively look. Take an interest in all breeds and types of cats. Soon you will be able to easily catch the difference between them, so that your drawings will become more accurate and natural.
A variety of wild cats have an even wider range of species than domestic cats. As a rule, they are divided into large ones, for example, a lion, jaguar, leopard and tiger, and small cats (lynx, cougar), while the cheetah forms its own group.
Some species, say a lion, have a strong and heavy skeleton, while others have a very small skeleton. So, the ocelot is only twice the size of an ordinary domestic cat.
In wild cats, as in domestic ones, one can see a lot of various patterns on the skin: small and large spots, stripes, or even, like a jaguar, large sockets. Usually, not the whole body of an animal is covered with a pattern. In addition, in nature there are no two wild cats with the same pattern on the skin. Browse through nature magazines, where you will find images of wild cats, or go to the zoo and draw them in motion, if possible.
Two-thirds of their lives, cats sleep, and sooner or later you will want to draw a sleeping cat. In addition, this is a great opportunity to develop skills in drawing a cat’s shape, since the animal will probably lie still for at least some time. However, you do not always have time for detailed experiments. Typically, cats doze a few times a day a little bit, so here it is important to have time to make quick sketches before she changes her pose.
The main difficulty in portraying sleeping cats is that they often curl up in a cozy ball and look like a shapeless lump of fur. Remember that you know about the structure of a cat, even eating at that moment nothing concrete is visible. Carrying out the transition from the image of sleeping cats to drawing moving cats is very difficult. You can alleviate the problem by sketching cats that wash or eat, that is, perform leisurely and repeatedly repeated movements. They are easier to depict, while the lines of your drawing will find the necessary dynamics.
Movement and plastic
It’s always nice to watch cats move. However, to accurately convey their grace, which is manifested even in the sharpest jumps, is very difficult. Try to understand how the animal’s body is working at the moment.
Observe how the cat walks, how and in what sequence he puts his paws. Then your drawings will become more real and convincing. Cats move in different ways: they sneak up, jump, move back, run and just walk. Here’s what is useful to remember - when walking, the cat moves like this: the right hind leg, the right front leg, the left hind leg, the left front leg and further in the same sequence. Both the walking and the running cats always have two paws firmly resting on the ground. Even when jumping, cats often stand clearly with their hind legs on the ground. The cat footprint in the snow looks almost like a straight line, as this animal neatly puts one paw in front of the other. Capturing a sequence is one way of transmitting motion.
Having created a series of drawings that consistently demonstrate the step of a cat step by step, you will forever remember the principle of its body, which means you can easily portray it at the most different moments in life.
But the creation of such a series will require accuracy and speed - you will have to make sketches very quickly, only briefly outlining the position of each part of her body. You will not have time to complete these sketches and complete them with details. Instead, focus on conveying the form and the very essence of movement. You add texture and chiaroscuro later.
A good way to convey additional information to the viewer is to depict cats in a specific setting. By placing the animal in an appropriate context, you can describe its habits or just its behavior.
For example, some members of the feline family feel good only at home, while others - willingly roam the garden or surrounding areas. Cats are very independent creatures. In the afternoon, they spend a lot of time alone, lie somewhere in the sun, or proudly watch what is happening on the street from their favorite window.
However, at night, cats walking on the street often gather in groups. But even then they remain faithful to their craving for personal space - each has its own special territory. After observing these animals in their natural setting, you will definitely notice their most characteristic features.
Cats have a flexible skeleton that allows them to squeeze even into a very narrow gap in case of danger. The tails of cats play the role of a balancing pole, allowing them to walk at high altitude even along a very narrow path. You might want to draw a cozy basket or other cat bed to make the image of a sleeping cat more interesting.
Other items that will organically complement the image of your domestic cat: a column on which she sharpens her claws, her favorite sunny window sill or a cozy corner, which she has chosen for sleeping. Portraying a cat in a familiar environment, build its environment in the same way as you "build" the cat itself.
Start with simple forms and gradually detail them, and at the same time the cat itself, and everything that surrounds it, to visually see the proportions between them. The straight strokes of the Persian kitten’s long fur will make a pleasant contrast with the floral pattern on the quilted bedding. There is no need to thoroughly draw details to the last hair or petal of a flower; often it’s enough just to outline a pattern slightly - this way you will save your drawing from overload and be able to correctly place the accents you need.
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