How to Draw a Real Tiger

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STEP 1. Preparation Begin by choosing a medium to high resolution photo of a tiger’s head and copy the photo into Microsoft word. Here you are able to manipulate the photo to a size that you would like to draw. Set the page resolution to 100% (bottom right corner of the page) so that the page on your screen is the same size as the paper you are drawing onto. This allows you to draw to a 1:1 scale relative to the reference photo. *Above image: How to shade using q-tips. First shade a light layer and then smooth it out with a q-tip or cotton pad. Secondly, go over the layer a couple more times to darken it and then finally smooth this second layer out with q-tips.*   STEP 2. Equipment • HB, 4B pencils • Q-tips (cotton-buds) or alternatively cotton-pads (make-up removers) or tissues. • Ruler • White pastel pencil (optional) *Image: To draw whiskers or strands of hair, you can use a technique called masking. This involves placing two sheets of paper close together and erasing the area between them. This is a similar technique to pinstriping a car using masking tape.*   STEP 3. When drawing large areas of thick, rugged fur, I recommend holding the pencil as shown and making wide, sweeping and swift pencil strokes.   STEP 4. If you are not yet a confident sketcher you can trace an outline of the tiger’s head. Alternatively, you can use a grid method or my simpler reference-point method to create an outline for your drawing. In my method, you need to choose several points on the image that you can use to ensure your drawing has the correct proportions. Good points to choose are the eyes, nose, teeth and the base or tips of the ears. Once you have chosen appropriate points, you can measure the horizontal and vertical distance of the point from the borders of the photo and then use a ruler to measure the points onto your paper. From here, you can draw the surrounding details and create a basic outline of the tiger head. Don’t worry about drawing in any details yet.   STEP 5. This is more or less the amount of detail necessary in your outline.   STEP 6. Now that the gruelling work is over, we can begin to render the tiger face. Start with an HB pencil and draw a light base layer of shading to areas of the face that appear smooth. It is important that this base layer is smooth – do not add any details to the shaded areas yet. You may want to clearly define the eyes and nose of the tiger now so that the outlines are not lost in the shading. **Use the shading technique described at the beginning of this tutorial**   STEP 7. With the base shading done, we can now add some depth to the nose and mouth areas. You do not need to start reaching for your 4B pencil yet – an HB pencil is more than adequate. When shading the darker areas of the nose, refer to the photo as often as possible to see the shape of the face and where the darker regions are. Remember when shading that you do not need to push hard; by just applying layers at a moderate pressure you can achieve the same result without damaging the paper. At this point you will want to begin adding the smaller details such as stripes and the dots on the nose.   STEP 8. This step focuses on the mouth area – specifically the whiskers. In my opinion, the whiskers on any big cat are perhaps the most important facial feature to get correct. They must be white and this presents a problem – we can’t actually draw the whiskers themselves. There are several ways to render them: 1. Draw the outline of the whiskers and then shade in the surrounding areas to make them stand out. This is the easiest method but you often get slightly dirty white whiskers instead of the pure, paper white ones we are looking for. 2. Shade in the area first and then mask the whiskers in using two sheets of paper as masks and then erasing the area between them. This method is much more difficult and time consuming but you achieve a much better contrast between the surrounding area and the whiskers. I like to use a mixture of both methods as it can be very difficult to draw the whiskers using the mask technique on a small scale drawing.   STEP 9. This step is all about adding stripes to the side of the face. When drawing the stripes, a general rule of thumb is to avoid drawing straight edges – as these stripes need to blend into a fur texture, a jagged edge makes for a better transition. When drawing the fur at the bottom of the face you will want to really exaggerate the jaggedness of the fur as it will make the fur look thicker. Don’t be afraid to go a bit overboard and use your eraser here. In fact, if you aren’t erasing something you are doing something wrong! The final part of this step is to begin working on the ear. I like to first put a base layer of shading down and then erase where necessary and add details later on. You will need to add hair details in later so you may choose to simply leave the base blank.   STEP 10. The penultimate step! The first area of focus is the ear. You want to get a good variety of highlights to define the individual strands of hair. Follow the same method outlined for drawing the whiskers but be a little less clinical to achieve a more rugged look. To draw the fur, you will need to first draw a base layer of jagged but smooth shading as shown in the drawing to the left. Again, when drawing the stripes in this thicker fur, large and sweeping pencil strokes should be used to define the hairs.   STEP 11. This final step is all about cleaning the drawing up. Firstly, get an eraser and go over the large area of fur in the bottom-left corner with large sweeping strokes to add large highlights to the fur texture. This is optional as some people may prefer the smoother look of the previous step. Secondly, you may want to add more fine details to the ear region as I have done in this step. Finally, get your 4B pencil and darken the appropriate areas. You may also wish to use a white pastel pencil to add highlights. We are now finished and I hope you have found this tutorial useful.   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10. Step 11.