For any wildlife artist, tigers are one of the most popular subjects to draw or paint. The largest member of the cat family, tigers are instantly recognizable for their deep orange and white coat and their black stripes. In this beginners tutorial I will show you how you can sketch a tiger in a few steps.
Drawing a tiger can seem a daunting task but it is important to try and break the subject down into simple shapes. This method of drawing is how I approach my own artwork whether I am working in graphite or pastel.
For this tutorial you will only need: paper (any size), pencils ( an HB or lighter for the construction lines and a 3B or 4B for the darker areas), compass (optional), a putty eraser and finally a paper towel or blending stump.
Draw a circle using a compass. Then draw a horizontal and vertical line through the centre of the circle. This will represent the basic head shape. I've made the lines quite dark so they will show up on the screen but please keep your lines quite light at this stage.
Draw a box around the circle. This will give us a framework in which to add the main features of the tigers face.
In the top left section sketch a basic curve shape for the ear (1). The height of the ear will be the same as the top horizontal line of the box. Sketch in the other ear (2) in a similar way. From the mid horizontal line begin to draw in the nose shape (3). This will continue onto the chin area (4). With these simple shapes we now have the outline of a tigers head.
Remember to keep these construction lines light so that they can be erased easily if needed. Do not use anything darker than an HB pencil at this stage.
Draw in the the eyes (see below).They should rest just below the centre horizontal line. Begin to sketch the nose with a basic triangle shape, the tip of which should rest on the bottom horizontal line. From this point draw in the curve shape of the muzzle.
At this point we can begin to add in the distinctive stripes on the tigers face. Each tiger has its own unique stripe pattern. For that reason, drawing in the stripes is all about paying close attention to your reference photo.
Take each of the four grid boxes one at a time and lightly sketch the dark stripes. Begin to shade in the ears. Keep this part light at first and use the putty eraser to suggest some of the longer hairs that grow over the ears.
Begin to darken in the stripes on the face and the area around the eyes. I would use a 4B pencil at this stage. Start to shade in some of the lighter areas of fur also. Sketch in more detail around the nose.
Start to add in the areas of darker fur, particularly along the nose and under the eyes. It’s not important to try to draw in individual hairs on the face - just use various degrees of shading to suggest the fur. You can begin to erase any visible construction lines
Lightly blend the fur using a paper towel or blending stump. Add more detail to the eyes and nose. You can use a putty eraser to emphasise areas of the white fur. Continue to go back over the drawing re-blending the fur and using the eraser to pick out the white fur until you are happy with the results. Finally, add the whiskers around the muzzle and above the eyes.
Detail of the eye
Detail of the nose
You can download this tutorial as a free PDF. Yours to keep forever!!
Click here to see a large version of the reference picture.
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