Realistic Tiger Drawings in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Creating and making realistic tiger drawings can be easy. With these step-by-step techniques, you can learn how to draw a tiger that you can be proud of. Just follow along in this lesson on how to draw tigers to add this animal to your personal knowledge.

The great thing about this drawing is that the base of it can form any kind of large predator cats. Think panthers, leopards, etc. as these animals have very similar body structures with one another.

So no matter what type of cool cat you want to draw, just know that the techniques can be used for any type of animal that has fur patterns. It's truly an easy and expandable process that you can learn to draw anything.

So let's start up a new layer in your digital art software and follow along in this lesson on how to draw a tiger. It isn't as hard as you think.

Sketching realistic tiger drawings

As always, a gesture drawing is a great way to make sure your tiger has the right proportions and flow points that you can turn into muscles later on.

I recommend studying up on the anatomy of a tiger to see all the bone structures and how the flesh covers it up. When you have an idea, sketch this in using loose flow lines to form the overall shape on a new layer.

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Having the sketch is only the first part. Once you have done that, create another layer underneath it and fill it with a base color (use 100% pressure). Then, lock the base color layer down and simply block in some light and shadows to create form.

After that, go ahead and merge everything together. Having a solid object on its own is great because you can manipulate and paint on it without worrying about affecting the background (should you decide to draw one later).

Smudging the realistic tiger drawings

The fur of the tiger can be done quite easily just by using the smudge tool. The best type of smudge brush is the chalk brush. With it, you can create a variety of textures depending on size and pressure.

I suggest smudge along the gesture flow lines to create very simple muscle shapes. As well, smudge very gently near the edges to create small instances of fur. The smaller the brush, the better details you can get.

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Once you are done with the smudging, go ahead and clean up everything else with the eraser brush.

Then, lock the layer down. Again, this technique is used to prevent you from painting outside of the tiger object by accident. It's quite helpful as it confines all brush strokes within the given area.

That means you can slowly start working on the details of the fur without worrying about coloring outside the boundaries.

Detailing realistic tiger drawings

First off, you need to select a small brush to detail the fur. With simple strokes zigzagging back and forth, create layers of fur carefully on the animal. Notice how locking down the layer makes things a lot more easier as you paint in larger strokes of fur.

After that, switch to the smudge brush once more and very lightly smudge in these small sections of fur. Constantly toggle back and forth between a small brush and the smudge tool to get the right textures. You will know it's going well when things blend together very nicely.

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The next step is to think about the stripes. What I recommend is to do the stripes on the separate layer. This way, you can plan how it will wrap around the tiger without affecting the hard work that you did on the fur.

Study carefully the angle of the stripes. You will find a lot of vertical ones on the body while there are horizontal stripes on the limbs. Of course, there will be a few of them on the face as well. Aim at the curvature of face so get the right shape of the stripes.

Shading realistic tiger drawings

Once you are satisfied with the stripes, you can apply it together with the tiger object. Depending on your software, there are many ways of doing this. For Photoshop, you can change the stripe layer into a clipping mask which will conform itself to the shape of the tiger object.

For anything else other than Photoshop, you can simple erase the stripes layer to fit into the tiger object (and merge it together if needed). Either way, the point is that you should have all the textures ready.

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For the light and shadows, you can use the clipping mask ability once more and paint a layer of light and shadows. Otherwise, lock the layer down and glaze on areas of light and shadow on the tiger.

There are many ways of doing light and shadows. You can try a large round brush with the blending properties set on 'screen,' 'highlight,' or 'dodge' to bring out the values. The same can be applied for shadows in that you can set the blending 'multiply,' 'darken,' or 'burn' to get the shadows.

You can even try the dodge and burn tools. The main idea is to play with whatever you are comfortable with or learn new tools to get the effect that you would like. You have options.

This concludes the guide on realistic tiger drawings. In conclusion, these are practical techniques and processes that will allow you draw almost anything because it breaks down the object into separate and easy to use steps.