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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Animals
Design

How to Draw a Cheetah

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a cheetah—the fastest land animal. I will show you how to construct its body step by step: first the torso, then the legs, and finally the head with all its details. You will learn how to draw simplified muscles and paws, and how to draw a cheetah pattern.

This is a simple tutorial for beginners. If you want to learn more about cheetahs and other big cats, try this tutorial instead:

1. How to Draw a Cheetah's Body

Step 1

Sketch an oval—this will be the chest. Remember to draw these guide lines lightly, so that they can be covered (or even erased) later with the final lines.

draw oval for chest

Step 2

Add a circle at the back, connecting it to the chest with a curve. This will be the hip area. Leave some space between the chest and the hips.

draw circle for hips

Step 3

Add a "6" in the front. This will be the shoulder.

draw simple shoulder

Step 4

Add a curve to the tip of this "6", creating the top of the shoulder blade.

draw top of shoulder blade

Step 5

Outline the shoulder.

outline shoulder
outline arm muscles

Step 6

Add an oval for the hips.

add oval for hips

Step 7

Outline the body.

outline cheetah body

Step 8

Add the curve of the tail. It should be quite long.

add curve of cheetah tail

Step 9

To create the right thickness, you can draw circles along the tail.

add thickness to tail

Step 10

Outline the tail.

outline cheetah tail

2. How to Draw a Cheetah's Legs

Step 1

To measure the right distance to the ground, draw a line the same height as the chest right under it, and then add some more length. You don't need to use a ruler—just eyeball it.

measure distance to the ground

Step 2

Sketch the rhythm of the legs.

sketch rhythm of legs

Step 3

Mark the wrist and the knee.

mark wrist and knee

Step 4

To create a slightly more interesting perspective without making it too complicated, let's put the other pair of legs a little higher. This will add a sense of depth.

add another ground level

Step 5

Draw the other pair of legs, using a different pose for them to make the drawing more dynamic. Use the first pair of legs to place the joints.

add one more pair of legs

Step 6

Don't forget to add a shoulder for the other front leg, too!

add second shoulder

Step 7

Add details to the joints: the wrists and ankles.

add detailed joints

Step 8

Add some muscle masses to give volume to the legs.

add muscle masses
add muscles to background legs

Step 9

Add the elbows and the knees.

add elbow and knees

Step 10

Add the calf muscles.

add calf muscles

Step 11

Sketch the outline of the feet.

sketch outline of feet

Step 12

Draw the middle toe on each paw. Add a dew claw ("a cat thumb") and the carpal pads, too.

add middle toes

Step 13

Add the outer toes now, sloped in the opposite direction.

add outer toes

Step 14

Add the tips of the toes—little reversed '6's.

add tips of toes

Step 15

Add the paw pads where they are visible.

add paw pads

Step 16

Outline the rest of the legs.

outline whole legs

3. How to Draw a Cheetah's Head

Step 1

Draw a triangular neck. It shouldn't be too long—you can refer to the length of the shoulder blade to measure it.

add neck

Step 2

Add an oval for the head. Again, not too big—cheetahs have very small heads in comparison to their bodies!

add oval for head

Step 3

Add a "face cross"—one line going along the muzzle and the forehead, and the other going over the eyes. This will give us a point of reference for the other elements of the head. While drawing this cross, pay attention to perspective!

add face cross

Step 4

Draw big "eye sockets". This again helps us place the eyes correctly, without actually drawing them yet.

add eye sockets

Step 5

Add the cheeks.

add cheeks

Step 6

Add the muzzle in the shape of a sack.

add muzzle

Step 7

Draw the chin and connect it to the rest of the head.

draw cheetah chin

Step 8

Draw the area of the nose, turning towards the eyes.

draw area of the nose

Step 9

Add the actual nose in this area. Imagine it three-dimensionally.

draw cheetah nose

Step 10

You can now draw the area for the eyes.

draw area of the eyes

Step 11

Draw the ears in the shape of flower petals.

draw ears

Step 12

Connect these petals to the head.

finish ears

Step 13

Draw the mouth.

draw mouth

Step 14

Draw the nose.

draw nose
finish nose

Step 15

If you draw lines on the sides of the nasal bridge, you'll go right to the "eyebrows".

draw cat eyebrows

Step 16

Draw the lips.

draw lips

Step 17

Draw the actual eyes now.

draw the eyes

Step 18

Draw the eyelids that give the eyes their shape, as well as the marking going towards the lips.

draw eyelids and cheetah marking

Step 19

Finally, outline the whole neck.

outline cheetah neck

4. How to Finish the Drawing of a Cheetah

Step 1

The guide lines are finished, and you can draw the final lines now. Feel free to erase the sketch lightly to make it barely visible, or put a new sheet of paper over it.

Outline the body, using soft, non-continuous lines to simulate fur.

outline cheetah body

Step 2

Draw the paws with all the details. Unlike other cats, cheetahs have only semi-retractable claws, which means they're partially visible all the time.

draw cheetah paws

Step 3

Add details to the head. The whiskers should be quite short.

add details to head

Step 4

Darken the nose, the marking, and the ears. Shade the eyes, too.

shade the cheetah head

Step 5

Shade the whole body in a simple way.

shade cheetah

Step 6

Time for the spots! Cheetahs have a very simple pattern: just circles and ovals all over the body. Plan them first.

plan cheetah pattern

Step 7

Darken these spots.

darken cheetah spots

Step 8

There are smaller spots between the bigger ones. Add them.

add smaller spots

Step 9

Finally, add some shadows below the legs and a dark outline for the whole cheetah.

finish drawing

Good Job!

Now you know how to draw a cheetah! Do you want to learn how to draw other big cats? Try these tutorials:

how to draw cheetah step by step
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