I helped a friend sketch her cat and as she worked on her drawing I drew along too so I could give her better feedback. We live in different parts of the country though, so we scanned our work and emailed it to each other. Here are the steps of the drawing I made.
The steps with full explanations are beneath the slide-show.
I always start by measuring how wide and tall the main part of the subject is with the tip of my pencil and my thumb, and then make a box. Then I draw everything that belongs in the box … in the box!
It’s like drawing using a frame, only you just imagine the frame. If you want to be extremely accurate, take measurements with your pencil and thumb of different parts of the scene and carefully transfer them to the paper. (Reducing or enlarging as needed.)
If you can get one thing plotted out very well, you can base all the other measurements on it.
Her face is angled and I caught myself trying to draw three different parts of it straight. This is a very common mistake and makes a skewed looking drawing. Something in our human nature makes us want to draw faces “straight” even if they’re angled
The first few lines of a drawing are always challenging, and it really is so very important to get that part right. If you don’t, the next layers of the drawing will be wrong too, and much harder to correct. But we’re not machines so there will always be some variance between our drawings and reality.
I hatched in a rough background because I needed a dark value to relate the values of her face to in the next step.
I blocked in the value pattern on her face. The lightest values are along the edges of her ears and across her forehead, so I added a bit of value to all the other light areas. I planned to save the whiskers until last.
The eyes were too high and too far apart, so I fixed them.
Then I hatched the background darker because it needed to be darker than her fur, especially on the right side of her cheek.
Here’s my final drawing. I brought all the values to their final version, corrected her eyes, and added whiskers. I “drew” the whiskers by erasing them with a battery powered eraser. Then I thinned them and made them more whisker-like with the tip of the pencil.
I think I captured the feel of the fur, and perhaps discovered this cat’s inner Mountain Lion too, especially around the nose and eyes.
I only used a few supplies for this sketch. Here they are.
The links lead to Dick Blick. (Aff & Fav art supply store)
- Canson Classic Cream Drawing Pad (An inexpensive drawing paper with a good tooth. Comes in white or cream. Either is fine, but be sure to get the “heavy weight, medium tooth.”)
- Faber-Castell Graphite Pencil Set (Excellent sketching pencils.)
- Design Kneaded Rubber Eraser (Get a few. They’re cheap and they’re easy to lose.
- Helix Automatic Cordless Eraser (If you’ve never used one of these before, pick up a pack of refill eraser nibs because you’ll go through them quickly at first.)
- Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick (If an cordless eraser is a little too much for you to handle right now (they take practice), the Tuff Stuff is a stiff eraser that erases well and is easy to handle. Get replacement eraser sticks while you’re at it.)
- Alvin Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener (If you don’t have a good pencil sharpener, this is the type I use. Makes a very long sharp point.)