Learn How to Draw a Realistic Cat in 5 Steps

What better way to capture the essence of your furry friend than learning how to draw a realistic cat? This step-by-step tutorial will help you capture the likeness of a cat in pencil.

Learn how to draw a realistic cat with Craftsy's step-by-step tutorial

Follow along with this step-by-step tutorial for how to draw a realistic cat!

Before you begin, get to know different cat breeds

As with most animals, there are various cat breeds. If you want to draw your own cat, that's a great place to start! You can even take advantage of having a live model by drawing some warm-up sketches of your cat in different poses.

However, if you don't have a cat or would like to draw a different cat, you can look for different cat breeds online, in books or magazines, and choose which one you want to draw. You can apply the steps in this drawing tutorial for learning how to draw a realistic cat of any breed in any pose.

Step 1: Sketch in basic shapes

Start your cat drawing with light guidelines on cat

As usual, I like to begin by locating my subject on the paper. Do this by simplifying the cat to basic shapes, like circles and ovals, and draw light guidelines to find the cat's proportions. Make sure you keep these lines soft so that you have no trouble erasing them later on.

Step 2: Sketch in the cat's facial features

Draw the features of a cat's face

Now that we have our basic sketch and it looks proportional, we will begin to draw the features of the face.

A 2B pencil is soft enough to sketch things like the eyes and snout and allows us to easily erase and redraw any mistakes. Sometimes drawings don't turn out great right off the bat — it's a natural part of learning how to draw a realistic cat.

So, remember this in general whenever you are drawing: Don't be afraid to make mistakes and go in with an eraser. We learn much more from our failures than our successes. This is how we are able to improve and move forward.

Step 3: Detail the cat's eyes

Draw a Realistic Cat's Eye

Now that we have placed all the features, we can clean up our drawing by erasing the basic underlying shapes and guidelines.

Most types of cats have a very defined outline around their eyes. Grab your 4B or 6B pencils and shade in this outline along with the darkest part of their eyes in the center. Lightly shade the eyes, making sure to leave a white circle to represent the reflected light. This will bring more realism into your drawing.

If you'd like a more thorough tutorial for drawing realistic cat eyes, you can check out this post from The Craftsy Drawing Blog.

Step 4: Shade in the cat's fur

Unfinished Sketch of a Realistic Cat

Now we need to move on to the fur and shadows. This particular cat has white fur around his neck with some beautiful spots and lines on its back and legs. Using H or 2H pencils, shade the lightest shadows around the face and neck.

Drawing Realistic Fur on a Cat

Using the same H pencils (or shading very lightly with a 2B pencil), block in the shadow on the tail and shade the fur with small lines and strokes to create the furry texture.

For more details on how to draw animal fur, check out these tips.

Step 5: Continue shading the cat

Layering fur on a realistic cat drawing

You can continue building up the darker spots on the fur by layering pencil strokes using a 6B pencil. Tiny scribbles are a great way to imitate the look of fur.

Get a simple tutorial for how to draw a realistic cat

Keep working on the drawing by lightly shading areas of fur and the kitty's paws until you are finished.

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