Draw A Cat In Four Steps (more or less)

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, 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.

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Cat Sketch Step One
Cat Sketch Step One – Block In The Cat’s Face

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

Cat Sketch Step Two
Cat Sketch Step Two – Hatch In The Background

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.

Cat Sketch Step Three
Cat Sketch Step Three – Hatch In Face And Body Shadow Patterns

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.

Cat Sketch Step Four
Cat Sketch Step Four – Final Details

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.

47 thoughts on “Draw A Cat In Four Steps (more or less)”

    1. Hi Jasmina,

      You can draw like me and even better, you can draw like you. All it takes is lots and lots of practice. :)

    1. Hi Hafsa,

      Learning to control the pencil just takes practice. I try to draw everyday if I can because it keeps my hands and my hand / eye coordination in shape. In a way drawing is like dancing, you have to practice a lot or you’ll get out of shape! :)

  1. hi im lala
    and i can draw cartoons but i want to know the secert to drawing realistaly please tell me all of the secerts

  2. Hey Carol!

    I really need to draw better, i’m only 11 but I can draw about half as good as this.
    My friends say i’m EXTREMELY good at drawing Anime, Cartoons and Weird Creatures.
    Can you give me tips on better Art?

  3. Can you teach me how to draw like that. I tryed the 4 steps but i just can’t get my hand to do it like that.

  4. Hi Carol!
    I’m 11, too, and I know a lot of the techniques on pencil drawing from your website and other sources. I really liked the way you taught this lesson, and I learned from it, too. I like your website a lot, but I wanted to know, where can I get a Helix Automatic Cordless Eraser?

  5. Carol your amazing..i just wanted to know if your books are available in India and in Bangalore..please let me know.
    You can mail me at sheksharp@gmail.com

    thanx a lot :)

    1. Hi abhishek,

      Thank you for your kind words. I don’t know if the book is available in Bangalore, and I’m not sure how to find out. Sorry about that!

      1. Hello again,
        Can you at least tell if your books are available in India!!
        it would be a great help. :)

        1. I don’t think so Abhishek. Walter Foster Publishing publishes them and some of their books appear to be available in India, but not mine. I guess I’m not well known enough for India. (Wish I were.) :)

  6. i wanna draw better than i do, and i dont kow what pencils i shoul use and how i start??????????? :)

  7. Lazy Lala, Angelo, Montserrat, JVC Carolina, & ola,

    Since your questions are similar, I’ll answer all of you at once.

    Drawing practice is the only real way to learn how to draw well. It’s a little like learning to ride a bike. You can’t be told how to balance on two wheels and push the pedals with your feet and expect to ride a bike without crashing.

    To ride a bike, you have to be on the bike and learn how to balance and pedal yourself. To draw, you have use pencils and erasers a lot to learn how to draw with them, so you need to draw as much as you can and as often as you can. Draw everyday. Make it a habit.

    It’s really important to draw in a sketchbook too. A pad of paper with a stiff back and spiral side or top that’s small enough to carry everywhere is perfect. You can find sketchbooks with hard covers too. (I like Moleskine sketchbooks, but any type that appeals to you will work.)

    In this sketchbook, you must draw all sorts of things in all sorts of ways.

    • Draw from your imagination so you’ll learn to how to tell a story without words.
    • Draw tree bark, rocks, and other rough textures with 4B hatching, draw smooth textures like still water or metal with 4H hatching, and discover how the pencil grades effect texture.
    • Practice line drawing.
    • Draw empty space.
    • Draw with the tip of the pencil, draw with the side of the pencil, and then learn how to draw with the tip and the side in one swooping line.
    • Draw from life.
    • Draw from photos.
    • Draw humans, animals, Manga, plants, rocks, water, metal, monsters, alien worlds, cars, bikes, and your cousin.
    • Be fearless and draw things no one has ever drawn before, like how strawberries taste and how snow flakes feel when they land on your face.

    You CAN draw anything you can think of or dream of or see. At first, your drawings might not be as good as you want them to be, but they will be if you just keep drawing no matter what.

    Here’s a basic drawing kit for beginners:

    Five grades of drawing pencils – 4B, 2B, B, 2H, 4H.
    A pencil sharpener that makes a long sharp point.
    A kneaded or putty eraser.
    A vinyl eraser. (Either a rectangular eraser, or the “stick” kind that comes in a pencil shaped plastic holder. Get both kinds if you can.)
    A few paper stumps for blending.
    A small thick flat paintbrush for blending.
    Drawing paper marked “fine” or “smooth.”
    And some kind of box to keep your supplies in.

    If you don’t have an art supply store nearby, here’s a list of online stores you can order free catalogs from.

    And here’s a beginner’s shading lesson that shows you how to hold a pencil, make hatching, and shade a ball.

    These supplies and a good drawing lesson or two should get you off to a solid start, but you do need to add one more thing. You. Don’t leave all this stuff in a box. Use it. A lot. :)

    1. Hi Igor,

      Thanks for the kind words. I went to your site and I love the video of you drawing the panda with Pentel Pen. I’ve been keeping a visual journal using Pentel Pens and I enjoy seeing how you work with them very much.

      Thanks for dropping by,

  8. i am 10 years old and i wrote:hi i am hunter and i want to learn how to draw.please help because i want to be a artist when i grow up.please reply.please.

    1. Hi Hunter,

      My lessons are for adults and I’m not sure what would be best for you to learn at your age. I suspect you need to learn to control the pencil more than anything else though, so just drawing everyday would be a good idea for now. Drawing from your imagination and doodling will help you learn how to handle pencils, pens, and markers. I hope you can find someone nearby to tutor you as you get older.


  9. hey i really love to draw but i suck i have a drawing set but what is a paper stump are there any really good tips

  10. do you have a drawing book and is it available in vancouver canada

    1. Hi Winnie,

      The name of my book is Drawing Made Easy: Getting Started. I’m sorry but I don’t know if it’s available in Canada. You’ll need to hunt for “battery powered eraser” or “electric eraser” to find art and drafting supply stores that you can order from. Paper stumps are strips of paper that have been rolled into a thick pencil shapes and you use them to blend drawings and to create shadows and smooth surfaces.

      Good luck,

  11. hi carol,
    iam very keen to learn drawing properly & i hope your lessons will help me

    1. Hi Yasmin,

      Everyone can improve their drawing skills if they give it time, energy, and dedication.

      Once you’ve built a drawing habit, as I wrote about in an earlier answer, you’ll see improvement in your work and in your creativity too, and those things are so exciting that you’ll want even more drawing time.

      Habit, creative discovery, and skill begin to build on each other like a snowball rolling down hill until your drawings take you where they want to go instead of the other way around.

      At some point, you have to be willing to let go of the need to control the outcome of your drawings and make the work that wants to come into the world through you as only you can make it.

      It’s a simple and natural process, but you have to be dedicated to making art for it to happen. :)

  12. Carol,
    Your lessons realy helped me learn to be a better artist I love your books Happy New Year too!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me that my lessons have helped you. I hope you draw all your favorite things this year.

  13. Hi, Carol! Your work is amazing! I love drawing, however for me to draw a good picture I have to copy it. It seems silly, but for example if I wanted to draw a dog, I know what a dog looks like!! Though, I would prefer to have a picture of a dog in front of me to copy from. Through your first stages of drawing is this what you did?? Also, where are some good places to buy drawing supplies from?

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Most artists can’t draw from memory alone and work from photos or from life. Drawings from the imagination are creative and have great symbolism, but are usually not realistic. Merging the two approaches produces great creative expression though.

      I recommend drawing from life, from photos, and from your imagination so that you can experience generating images in many different forms. Success at making art increases with each new way you learn to express yourself through your medium.

       I like to order from dickblick.com and from jerrysartarama.com.

  14. Heyy Carol! I’m an aspiring artist(/teacher/stand up comic) and my friends and family and most others at my school that have seen my work think that I am quite talented but I’m not all that creative and I can’t think of things to draw often. It would be sweet if you could help me come up with things to draw and give some tips. I’m also a very private and shy person, so I’d rather we talked over text, if that’s okay.
    – The King of Spades

  15. I was sooooooooo happy to find your website! Thanks you for sharing your stuff Carol! You have helped many boys and girls like myself! I am 11 and I have been drawing all my life! But I have only drawn people and the ocasional dog. So thanks soooooo much!
    God bless you, -Sabrina

    1. Thank you Sabrina. Showing people my drawings and how I make them is a lot of fun for me too. I’m glad you like what you find on my website. You write very well for an eleven year old. I bet you’re very creative with words too.

      Keep drawing and writing Sabrina. You won’t ever regret taking the time to learn how to creatively express yourself in any medium.

      1. Thanks so much Carol! How do I put drawing that I have made in you website, if I can?

  16. Hi Carol,
    I drew this and did very well.. my family is amazed and i wobndered what kind of pencil is best for sketching? please answer as i am very curious.

    1. Hi Sarnethia,

      There’s a list at the bottom of this post that tells you about the drawing supplies I used to draw the cat. They are the best tools I’ve found for drawing and I use them nearly every time I draw.

      For a beginner, I suggest these pencils grades. 2B, HB, and 2H. They’ll allow you to create a wide range of lines and textures.

      Have fun and keep drawing!

  17. im a really good draw how do u think this will help me and my hand movements

  18. I like the way you teach. My problem is when I draw and shade my drawing still looks like a flat picture on paper it doesn’t look realistic. How can I improve my shading so that my pictures look more realistic? Please reply. Thank you

  19. I’m new year. I learnt graphic designing about an year ago and I am still learning and I enjoy it a lot. I am also interested in learning animation but my drawing skills are lousy. I was confused about whether to take classes or to start learning online but now that I have found this website I think I’ll start here.
    Any suggestions before I start?

  20. hey i think your drawing is awesome but i was wondering how long it took you. i can draw dragons realy well but they take me hours because of the level of detail, to me this looks like it took you anywhere from thirty minutes to maybe an hour and a half

  21. Hey Carol,
    Your Drawings are AMAZING! I’m only eleven but I can draw a lot of good stuff.

  22. Hi Everyone,

    I’m going to get caught up and answer a few people in one swoop. Here goes.

    Jasmine – I’m not sure how this technique would help you with your hand movements. I’d have to see how you draw in person to comment on that, and I only teach online. Sorry I can’t help!

    Deborah – Most likely, you need to push your shadows more. By that I mean make them darker and really create an contrast between the shadows and highlights. I think this exercise would help you learn what I mean. Thanks for writing.

    Alok – If there are drawing classes in your area, I suggest that you take as many as you can. You can learn a lot from online classes, but if you’ve already had graphic design training and are looking to sharpen your skills, you’d benefit from life drawing classes with live models and a teacher who can give you one on one instruction.

    smooers – Yes, I didn’t spend much time on this drawing because it’s a sketch and not a fully detailed drawing. Sketches are used to keep drawing skills sharp and to study a subject before you begin a more detailed drawing.

    Ozair – Thanks for your compliments on my work. Since you can already draw well, all you have to do is keep drawing!

    Have fun drawing everyone,

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