1. Design & Illustration
  2. Animals

How to Draw a Tiger

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Big cats are my favorite subject to draw. They're elegant and powerful, and their body has a simple, yet beautiful rhythm. Today, I'd like to show you how to draw a tiger—from the "skeleton" and muscles to the fur, details, and stripes. I will lead you step by step, so that you can follow me at your own pace without getting lost.

This is a tutorial for beginners, with a single outcome. If you want to learn more about drawing tigers, their anatomy and subspecies, or about big cats in general, you should check out this tutorial instead:

1. How to Start a Drawing of a Tiger

We'll start with a sketch, a set of guide lines that will become a base for the final lines. The sketch should be drawn in a way that allows you to discard it later—with very light lines, with an erasable tool, or on a separate layer.

Step 1

Draw a circle. It doesn't need to be perfect or drawn with a continuous line, so don't worry if it turns out wobbly. This will be the widest part of the chest.

draw a cicrlce for the chest

Step 2

Draw a curve coming from this circle, connected to another, smaller circle. This will be the hips.

draw the circle for the hips

Step 3

Connect the big circle with another, smaller circle in the front. This circle should have two "arms". This area will become the arm and shoulder.

draw another circle for shoulder

Step 4

Draw a line on top of the "shoulder". This will be the shoulder blade.

draw the shoudler blade

Step 5

We have all the guide lines we need to build the torso! Add some curves to finish it.

finish the curve of the torso

Step 6

It's very important to define the distance to the ground before we start drawing the legs. It should be slightly longer than the height of the torso.

define the distance to the ground

Step 7

Draw one foreleg and one hind leg—both quite symbolic and simple, just to know where they are.

draw symbolic legs

Step 8

To make the pose more interesting, let's add another shoulder...

draw another shoulder

.... and another pair of legs.

draw another pair of legs

Step 9

Time for the head. Cats don't have very long necks, so place the circular "head" right in front of the shoulders.

draw the head

Step 10

Finally, sketch the tail.

draw the tail

2. How to Draw a Tiger's Body

Does your sketch look like a tiger already? Great! If there's something not right in it, take a moment to fix it. It's very important to get the proportions right; if you get them wrong, even the finest details won't make the whole tiger look right. So take a good look at your "skeleton" and fix anything that needs to be fixed.

Step 1

Outline the shoulder blade gently.

outline the shoudler blade

Step 2

Connect the shoulder to the arm.

connect shoulder with arm

Step 3

Add some muscles to the torso.

add torso muscles

Step 4

Sketch the elbow.

sketch the elbow

Step 5

Add the wrists and ankles.

add wrists and ankles

Step 6

Sketch the paws in a blocky way. Think of them as hooves for the moment!

sketch the paws

Step 7

Connect the wrists with the arms.

draw the forearms

Step 8

Connect the ankle with the hip with one big curve.

sketch the hind leg

Step 9

Finish the outline of the thigh.

draw the thigh

Step 10

Outline the calf.

draw the calf

Step 11

Outline the ankle.

draw the ankle

Step 12

Add some lines to make the limbs more accurate.

finish the limbs

Step 13

Draw circles along the tail to plan its width. It should get progressively narrower towards the tip.

sketch the tails width

Step 14

Outline the tail.

finish the tail

3. How to Draw a Tiger's Paws

Step 1

Let's add some toes to these "hooves"! Draw blocky middle toes attached to each foot. The front ones should be slightly tapered.

draw the middle toes

Step 2

Add the other pair of toes on the sides.

draw the side toes

Step 3

Add a rounded tip to each toe.

draw toe tips

Step 4

Add a "thumb" to the visible inner side of the right foreleg, and a bony landmark to the ankle.

draw the thumb

Step 5

Add the tip of the thumb.

finish the thumb

Step 6

Add the carpal pad.

draw carpal pad

4. How to Draw a Tiger's Head

Step 1

Divide the circle-head into halves, horizontally and vertically.

divide the head verical
divide the head horizontal

Step 2

Give the face a slightly triangular look by "cutting" the sides of the circle.

draw sides of the face

Step 3

Place a circle (the muzzle) in the lower half of the circle.

sketch the muzzle

Step 4

Divide it into halves as well.

divide the muzzle into halves

Step 5

Draw the eyebrow line right over the horizontal middle line.

draw the eybrow line

Step 6

Connect it to the lower horizontal line, creating the nose.

sketch the nasal bridge

Step 7

Create the forehead by connecting the muzzle with the top of the head.

draw the forehead

Step 8

Make some space for the ears.

draw space for ears

Step 9

Draw the ears.

sketch the ears
draw ear detail

Step 10

Go back to the muzzle. Divide its lower half into halves again.

sketch the mouth

Step 11

Use these guide lines to sketch the nose and the mouth.

sketch the nose and mouth
draw the nose holes
finish the nose

Step 12

Draw the oval eyes.

draw the eyes
draw the eyelids
draw the pupils

Step 13

Add the details around the eyes.

draw the tear paths
draw the eyebrows
draw the eye detail

Step 14

Accentuate the bones around the face. Make them rounded for a typical tiger look.

draw the cheekbones

Step 15

Sketch the fur around the face.

sketch fur around face
tiger face shape

Step 16

Sketch the fluffy chin.

draw the chin

Step 17

Make some space for the whiskers.

draw the mouth detail

Step 18

Draw the corners of the mouth.

draw mouth corners

Step 19

Outline the cheek-mane.

draw cheek mane

Step 20

Add some additional guide lines we'll need later.

draw additional guide lines

5. How to Finish a Drawing of a Tiger

We're done with the guide lines, finally! You can now switch to a more final tool, or simply press harder for more visible lines.

Step 1

Darken the eyes and give them some eyelashes.

darken the eyes

Step 2

Draw the details around the eyes.

draw details around eyes

Step 3

Draw the nose.

draw the nose

Step 4

Draw the muzzle.

draw the nose detail
draw the tiger muzzle

Step 5

Draw the ears.

draw the tiger ears

Step 6

Draw the whole shape of the face.

draw the tiger face
draw the tiger head

Step 7

Outline the paws.

draw tiger paws

Step 8

Draw the forequarters.

draw the tiger forelegs
draw tiger muscles

Step 9

Draw the hindquarters and the torso.

draw tiger legs and torso

6. How to Draw a Tiger's Stripes

Step 1

Before you draw the stripes, it's better to sketch them lightly first to see how they all work together. First, sketch the pattern on the head.

skethc tiger pattern on the head

Step 2

If the sketch looks good, darken it.

draw stripes on tigers head

Step 3

Do the same with the rest of the body. Try to accentuate the 3D form of it with curved lines.

how tio draw tigers stripes
how to draw stripes on tiger body

Step 4

Finally, give strong, dark outline to the tiger to make the drawing pop.

finish the drawing of tiger

Step 5

Optionally, you can shade the tiger in a simple way to make it more 3D.

shade the tiger


What a cute kitty! If you want to draw other animals with the same method, you'll love these tutorials as well:

And if you want to deepen your knowledge about drawing instead of simply following the steps, you can also check these out:

how to draw tiger step by step
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