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
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.
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.
Add a "6" in the front. This will be the shoulder.
Add a curve to the tip of this "6", creating the top of the shoulder blade.
Outline the shoulder.
Add an oval for the hips.
Outline the body.
Add the curve of the tail. It should be quite long.
To create the right thickness, you can draw circles along the tail.
Outline the tail.
2. How to Draw a Cheetah's Legs
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.
Sketch the rhythm of the legs.
Mark the wrist and the knee.
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.
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.
Don't forget to add a shoulder for the other front leg, too!
Add details to the joints: the wrists and ankles.
Add some muscle masses to give volume to the legs.
Add the elbows and the knees.
Add the calf muscles.
Sketch the outline of the feet.
Draw the middle toe on each paw. Add a dew claw ("a cat thumb") and the carpal pads, too.
Add the outer toes now, sloped in the opposite direction.
Add the tips of the toes—little reversed '6's.
Add the paw pads where they are visible.
Outline the rest of the legs.
3. How to Draw a Cheetah's Head
Draw a triangular neck. It shouldn't be too long—you can refer to the length of the shoulder blade to measure it.
Add an oval for the head. Again, not too big—cheetahs have very small heads in comparison to their bodies!
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!
Draw big "eye sockets". This again helps us place the eyes correctly, without actually drawing them yet.
Add the cheeks.
Add the muzzle in the shape of a sack.
Draw the chin and connect it to the rest of the head.
Draw the area of the nose, turning towards the eyes.
Add the actual nose in this area. Imagine it three-dimensionally.
You can now draw the area for the eyes.
Draw the ears in the shape of flower petals.
Connect these petals to the head.
Draw the mouth.
Draw the nose.
If you draw lines on the sides of the nasal bridge, you'll go right to the "eyebrows".
Draw the lips.
Draw the actual eyes now.
Draw the eyelids that give the eyes their shape, as well as the marking going towards the lips.
Finally, outline the whole neck.
4. How to Finish the Drawing of a Cheetah
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.
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.
Add details to the head. The whiskers should be quite short.
Darken the nose, the marking, and the ears. Shade the eyes, too.
Shade the whole body in a simple way.
Time for the spots! Cheetahs have a very simple pattern: just circles and ovals all over the body. Plan them first.
Darken these spots.
There are smaller spots between the bigger ones. Add them.
Finally, add some shadows below the legs and a dark outline for the whole cheetah.
Now you know how to draw a cheetah! Do you want to learn how to draw other big cats? Try these tutorials: