This lesson on how to draw a cheetah will help you visualize and draw this animal. Why? As people, we like things that are the pinnacle of design like begin the biggest, the strongest, the smallest, the fastest, etc. A cheetah drawing represents the fastest.
When you are drawing topics that represent these pinnacles, it is an appeal to the human emotion of seeking out 'the best.' An artist that aims to fascinate their audience with these drawings can go a long way in getting noticed simply because you are filling in their curiosity.
Through adaptation, the long limbs, think sleek body, and spotted fur of this animal brings in a sense of fluidity in motion. It also helps that the face of a cheetah is fairly docile in comparison to other wild cats. This makes the animal seem more approachable.
The challenge of drawing this animal comes from managing your layers in a way that allows you to draw the fur as well as the spots. Aside from this, the process is straight forward in that you create the form from a gesture drawing and then slowly filling in in with details.
The best way to start any drawing off is with a good gesture sketch. That way, you will only focus on the form rather than the individual details. Select a small thin brush and outline the face of the cheetah on a separate layer.
With each stroke, you are making sure that the gesture lines of the eyes meet the nose. As well, you are making the facial features thin and sharp in comparison to the body to get that lean look. Make sure all the facial locations are measured out properly.
After that, you create another layer and paint it with a neutral backdrop color. In this new layer, you begin blocking in areas of light and shadow. This is to make sure bring out the face in response to the rest of the body as the cheetah portrait is your main focus.
Upon finishing up the quick gesture sketch, you will merge the sketch layer and the backdrop color layer together into its own layer. You are now ready to create some fur textures through smart smudging and blurring.
Using your smudge tool, you select a chalk type brush head and begin slowly smudging out the gesture lines. You are also very careful that you are smudging in the direction of the fur to make it look more natural.
Once that is completed, you can block in more details. Using a dark black chalk brush, you can draw in the important features like the eyes and the nose just by filling in the general shape of it. This will create the backdrop to be refined at later steps.
At the same time, you are using your eyedropper to sample a range of colors around the sketch. Switching to a smaller brush, you block in very small chunks of fur. All the while, you are still smudging in the areas to create the bands of fur around the body.
At this stage, you feel that the cheetah is finally coming to life. The next step would be to draw in even more detailed fur on top of the fur created by smudging. It's best to swap over to the smallest brush possible to get this effect.
Using a white color and the smallest brush, you draw the strokes in the direction of the fur. With this step, the difference in color values means you are also separating the face from the body by drawing the fur outlines around the face.
Having finished with the fur for now, it's time to work on the spots in this part on how to draw a cheetah. As you don't want to wreak havoc on the fur, the best way to approach this is to create another layer on top of the current drawing.
On that layer, draw in the spots that you want manually for the face as this gives you better control. At the same time, finish off the eyes and the nose while you are at it. However, for the rest of the body, set the brush to spatter and glaze over the body to randomize the spots.
To make it a little bit more believable, smudge the spots in the direction of the fur slightly and adjusting the level of transparency necessary to show off the fur underneath.
By now, the cheetah drawing is almost done. All that is left is to create a light source and give the drawing a bit more depth. In order to do that, you decide that it's best to protect the drawing first by locking down the shape of the cheetah.
That way, you can glaze on the color of the background so the animal blends into its surroundings. For example, choosing a white background means you will glaze in a white rim light (using a large soft round brush) on the edges of the protected cheetah layer to blend it in with the background.
A few final touches would be to add in little light reflections in the eyes and creating more color contrasts between the black lines and the rest of the fur.
You can add more fur and make it truly stand out. The sharpen tool becomes an asset to bring out the face in while keeping the rest of the body blurry.
On the topic of blurring, you can also blur the body a bit to give the cheetah drawing an illusion of motion. This can be done by using a radial blur on a duplicated layer of your cheetah drawing. Again, adjust the transparency so you can reveal the perfected drawing underneath.
Overall, it is fairly simple to craft a cheetah that looks good and believable. You can take what you have learned in this lesson on how to draw a cheetah and apply it to drawing other large African cats as these animals are something a lot of people like.
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