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How to Draw Animals: Big Cats, Their Anatomy and Patterns - Part 2

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In our first tutorial, we looked at drawing lions, tigers, cheetahs and snow leopards. Today we're going to take care of the other wild cats, like leopards, jaguars, mountain lions and lynx. Once again I'll show you what makes the cats so different and how to draw their patterns.


1. Let's Draw a Leopard

The name "leopard" brings to mind a big, spotted cat. Unfortunately, following only these popular rules may lead you to a drawing of a jaguar, or, even worse, a cheetah. So, how to draw a leopard?

Step 1

When it comes to the silhouette, you need to remember a few rules:

  • The barrow is long and slim, but not as slim as a cheetah's;
  • The legs aren't as long as lion's, but they're slim and proportional;
  • The neck is strong and muscular.
drawingbigcats_1-1_leopard_silhouette

Step 2

To draw a leopards silhouette, start with this kind of simplified pose:

drawingbigcats_1-2_leopard_simplified

Step 3

  • The base color for a leopard is yellow, with its shade being dependent on the habitat. You can use golden, reddish or even brownish shade of yellow;
  • The lower body can be a bit lighter than the base color;
  • The rosettes are brown, cracked, with a slightly darker color than the base.
drawingbigcats_1-3_leopard_colors

Step 4

The pattern is quite regular, following invisible lines across the body. Legs, neck and lower body are covered with dense spots - the lower, the smaller. Upper body, thighs and tail are covered thickly with rosettes.

drawingbigcats_1-4_leopard_spots

Step 5

To draw a leopard head from the front:

  • Draw a circle - divide it into quarters;
  • Add a long ellipse starting at the center of the circle. Add guide lines to place the nose;
  • Draw the mouth;
  • Cross all the head with guide lines, to border the eye area. Remember - an eye starts always a bit beside the nose line, not on it;
  • You now have enough guide lines to add characteristic features of a leopard face;
drawingbigcats_1-5_leopard_head_front

Step 6

To draw a leopard head in profile:

  • Start with the same circle as before;
  • Add another circle instead of ellipse this time. Divide it into sixteen parts to create guide lines. You should now be able to add the mouth;
  • Add the nose at the top of the circle and the chin;
  • Draw the guide lines for the eye;
  • Stress the shapes of the head with additional lines.
drawingbigcats_1-6_leopard_head_profile

Step 7

Now, when your proportions are ready, you can add the details:

  • A leopard's ears are slim and round at the tip. Their back is black, with a light spot in the middle;
  • The eyes are yellow, quite narrow, with short tear mark;
  • The nose is red, compact, with a light spot (not white!) just above it;
  • Whiskers are long, gently sloping. The whisker holes are dark and dense, almost merged with each other. The dark mouth mark starts on the upper lip.
drawingbigcats_1-7_leopard_head_details_front
drawingbigcats_1-7_leopard_head_details_profile

Step 8

A melanistic variant of leopard is called a black panther. It's not completely black - the rosettes are noticeable in the sun.

drawingbigcats_1-8_black_panther_leopard

2. Create a Jaguar

Jaguars are commonly confused with leopards (and vice versa). They're both yellow and spotted, they don't have any mane or distinctive stripes, so it's really easy to make such a mistake. I'll show you how a jaguar looks and how to distinguish it from leopard.

Step 1

Here's what you need to remember about a jaguars body:

  • Jaguars are a bit bigger than leopards, they also have rather stocky body with a characteristic slope on the back;
  • The tail is the shortest of all the big cats;
  • The legs are short and muscular (compare them with leopard's);
  • The belly is rounded, giving away a leopard's slimness;
  • The head may seem big because of a powerful jaw that can crush skulls and tortoise shells;
drawingbigcats_2-1_jaguar_silhouette

Step 2

To draw a jaguar, start with this kind of a pose:

drawingbigcats_2-2_jaguar_simplified

Step 3

  • The base color for a jaguar is tawny yellow. Just like with leopards, it can be brownish or reddish too;
  • The lower body is white;
  • The rosettes are black, thick, strongly cracked, with a middle a bit darker than base color and small black spots inside.
drawingbigcats_2-3_jaguar_colors

Step 4

The whole upper body is thickly covered with big rosettes. The lower body is covered with dark spots. On the tail the rosettes merge into stripes.

drawingbigcats_2-4_jaguar_stripes

Step 5

To draw a jaguar head from the front:

  • Draw a circle - divide it into quarters;
  • Add a long ellipse starting at the center of the circle. Add guide lines to place the nose;
  • Draw the mouth;
  • Cross all the head with guide lines, to border the eye area. Remember - an eye starts always a bit beside the nose line, not on it;
  • You now have enough guide lines to add characteristic features of a jaguar face;
drawingbigcats_2-5_jaguar_head_front

Step 6

To draw a leopard head in profile:

  • Start with the same circle as before;
  • Add another circle instead of ellipse this time. Divide it into sixteen parts to create guide lines. You should now be able to add the mouth;
  • Add the nose at the top of the circle and the chin;
  • Draw the guide lines for the eye;
  • Stress the shapes of the head with additional lines.
drawingbigcats_2-6_jaguar_head_profile

Step 7

Now you can add the details to the jaguar face:

  • The ears are round, black on the back, with a light spot in the middle;
  • Eyes can be gold to orange, more round than leopard's. The tear mark is longer than at leopards;
  • The nose is big and brown;
  • The whiskers are curled downwards. The mouth mark in the corner of the lips covers both upper and lower lip.
drawingbigcats_2-7_jaguar_head_details_front
drawingbigcats_2-7_jaguar_head_details_profile

Step 8

A black jaguar is called the black panther too. Just like with black leopard, the rosettes can be visible too, but since here the melanism comes from dominant allele, cubs of two black jaguars can be darker.

drawingbigcats_2-8_black_panther_jaguar

3. Learn About a Mountain Lion

While mountain lions (also called pumas or cougars) may seem quite dull in comparison to all these exotic, spotted and striped cats, they're still cool! And since they have no pattern, they're quick to draw, and that's a big advantage, isn't it?

Step 1

To draw a mountain lion you need to remember a few things about its body:

  • The barrow is quite similar to a lion's, wide with a rounded belly;
  • The hind legs are very long, giving a slope on the back;
  • The head seems unproportionally small;
  • The hair is short and coarse, so the muscles should be well defined.
drawingbigcats_3-1_cougar_silhouette

Step 2

Here's how you can start drawing a mountain lion:

drawingbigcats_3-2_cougar_simplified

Step 3

  • The base color can be reddish brown or grey;
  • The lower body can be lighter;
  • The tip of the tail is black.
drawingbigcats_3-3_cougar_colors

Step 4

To draw a puma head from the front:

  • Draw a circle - divide it into quarters;
  • Add a long ellipse starting at the center of the circle. Add guide lines to place the nose;
  • Draw the mouth;
  • Cross all the head with guide lines, to border the eye area. Remember - an eye starts always a bit beside the nose line, not on it;
  • You now have enough guide lines to add characteristic features of a mountain lion face;
drawingbigcats_3-4_cougar_head_front

Step 5

To draw a puma head in profile:

  • Start with the same circle as before;
  • Add another circle instead of ellipse this time. Divide it into sixteen parts to create guide lines. You should now be able to add the mouth;
  • Add the nose at the top of the circle and the chin;
  • Draw the guide lines for the eye;
  • Stress the shapes of the head with additional lines. Remember to cut of a bit of the forehead.
drawingbigcats_3-5_cougar_head_profile

Step 6

When the proportions are done, you can refine the details:

  • The ears are small and round, black or dark brown at the back, with light, big spot in the middle;
  • The eyes are yellow or hazel;
  • The nose is small and pink;
  • The whiskers are quite short, the whisker holes are almost invisible. The black mark on the mouth starts on the upper lip and comes right to the corner of the nose, fainting progressively.
drawingbigcats_3-6_cougar_head_details_front
drawingbigcats_3-6_cougar_head_details_profile

Step 7

Baby cougars are spotted, and their mouth mark can be darker.

drawingbigcats_3-7_cougar_cub

4. Draw a Lynx

Actually, there is no species called lynx. It's a name of the genus, just like a panthera (lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars are all panthers). There are four species of a lynx. We'll learn how to draw an Eurasian lynx (lynx lynx), the biggest of them, and then I'll show you the differences between all the species to create more of them.

Also, a lynx isn't in fact a big cat, although even the smallest of them can be three times bigger than a domestic cat.

Step 1

There are a few features that can let you recognize every lynx:

  • The hind legs are so long that the back becomes visibly slopped;
  • The tail is very short, as if it was cut by the base;
  • The head seems small in comparison to short, stocky body;
  • The head is decorated with long cheek mane and tufts at the ears.
drawingbigcats_4-1_lynx_silhouette

Step 2

When drawing a lynx, you can use this simplified pose:

drawingbigcats_4-2_lynx_simplified

Step 3

  • The Eurasian lynx can be grey, brown or greyish orange;
  • The spots are dark brown, black, or so faint that almost invisible. They can look a bit like half of rosettes;
  • The lower body is a bit lighter.
drawingbigcats_4-3_lynx_colors

Step 4

The spots of an Eurasian lynx are placed regularly. On the tail they merge into stripes, and the tip is black.

drawingbigcats_4-4_lynx_spots

Step 5

To draw a lynx head from the front:

  • Draw a circle - divide it into quarters;
  • Add a long ellipse starting at the center of the circle. Add guide lines to place the nose;
  • Draw the mouth;
  • Cross all the head with guide lines, to border the eye area. Remember - an eye starts always a bit beside the nose line, not on it;
  • You now have enough guide lines to add characteristic features of a lynx face, including the cheek mane and tufted ears;
drawingbigcats_4-5_lynx_head_front

Step 6

To draw a lynx head in profile:

  • Start with the same circle as before;
  • Add another circle instead of ellipse this time. Divide it into sixteen parts to create guide lines. You should now be able to add the mouth;
  • Add the nose at the top of the circle and the chin;
  • Draw the guide lines for the eye;
  • Stress the shapes of the head with additional lines.
drawingbigcats_4-6_lynx_head_profile

Step 7

You should now be able to add more details:

  • The ears of a lynx have characteristic, black tufts. The back of the ears is black, with a white spot in the middle;
  • The eyes are golden or hazel;
  • The nose is small (just like at domestic cats) and red;
  • The whiskers are long and gently sloping.
drawingbigcats_4-7_lynx_head_details_front
drawingbigcats_4-7_lynx_head_details_profile

Step 8

There can be many variants of an Eurasian lynx, with all of them being the same species. So, how to distinguish other species?

drawingbigcats_4-8_lynx_colors

Step 9

The Canadian lynx is smaller than its Eurasian cousin. What else can we say about it?

  • Its paws are very large, working like snow shoes (do you remember the snow leopard?);
  • The fur is grey and long;
  • The cheek mane is the most prominent of all lynxes;
  • The eyes are set deep in the fur, so they may seem small and narrow.
drawingbigcats_4-9_canadian_lynx

Step 10

Bobcat is a lynx too! It's the smallest of them all, but there are also other differences:

  • The tail is a bit longer than at other lynxes, also the tip isn't entirely black;
  • The ear tuft is quite short;
  • There may appear rosettes on the upper body.
drawingbigcats_4-10_bobcat

Step 11

The Iberian lynx is the rarest of them all. What do we know about it?

  • Its fur is reddish in color than at Eurasian lynx;
  • The fur is also shorter, so the muscles can seem to be more defined;
  • The cheek mane is long, slim, with black tripe on its outer border.
drawingbigcats_4-11_iberian_lynx

Awesome Work!

You've just learned everything about leopards, jaguars, mountain lions and lynx! Now you should be able to distinguish them easily, so no more confusing leopards with jaguars!

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