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How to Draw a Tiger

This is a 'how to draw a tiger tutorial in four easy stages' - sure. But it goes a bit further than that.

It also deals with a particular type of perspective technique that frightens off many a budding artist - that of foreshortening. Doing a front-on view of an animal, when you are not even used to drawing it side on, can be daunting for the newcomer.

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How to Draw a Tiger Tutorial

But foreshortening needn't become a mental monster to you.

Put simply, all it means is that you look at an object from an different angle than usual and things like (in this case, the tiger's body legs and head) suddenly appear squashed together.

All of a sudden they're not the length or shape you know them to be.

In this case, we are sketching this view of a tiger heading towards us.

All you need to do here is to observe this different outline and pick from some basic shapes that you think best represents it. This breaks up the image into easily constructed outlines.

Let's look now at Stage 1 of how to draw a tiger...

How to Draw a Tiger - Stage 1

Here, we have the photograph of the tiger walking towards us. It's on a mission....

How to draw a tiger - stage 1

Probably after food...

Notice how its body shape and demeanour is alert and focussed, gliding purposefully and silently over the ground.

It's these characteristics that you're trying to capture in your sketch.

However, coming back to that supposedly thorny issue of foreshortening, instead of having a long body shape as with a side-on view, this angle means I have to look a bit harder at what shape the outline of the tiger presents to me.

I can suggest the body by three ovals, to suggest where his  head, shoulders and flanks are positioned. I've put them on the photo in different colors so you can see things easier...

Equally, the legs are merely oblongs at appropriate angles, with the face merely two triangles and a couple of circles to position the ears.

How to Draw a Tiger - Stage 2

Now, having removed the photo, we're left with the guide lines. Crude as this image is, you can already see the outline of the tiger starting to emerge....

How to draw a tiger - stage 2

Now, as well as the proportions being right, we are set up for getting that all-important body language correct, which is going to create so much more character than a simple, anatomical sketch would do.

How to Draw a Tiger - Stage 3

I think this is where you really start to feel you're getting the idea of how to draw a tiger.

Because the basic shapes have given you a solid start, you're confidence should be lifted, so you can't wait to add in the more realistic outlines...

Ho to draw a tiger - stage 3

You're should now already begin to believe (rightly) that what your drawing really does look like the magnificent beast in the photo at the top of the page.

Continue to add in the main shapes - lightly and quickly. If  you take too long over this, your drawing will look labored and will lack movement. It's difficult to explain this phenomenon, but I promise you it is true.

By the way, doing even the 'final' image lightly still allows you to erase if you make an error.

How to Draw a Tiger - Stage 4

Now fill in the final details. Notice how I've used shading and the tiger's stripes to denote the roundness of the body.

Take note especially how a tiger's legs are thick and solid, designed to take his considerable bulk, yet still slim enough to allow him to move or climb rapidly out of danger or when going onto the attack...

How to draw a tiger - stage 4How to draw a tiger

I want you to notice also how much white or light colored fur is on this beast. In this view the characteristic stripes are only really visible on the hind legs and some on the top of the head and back.

There are few stripes on the chest or the front paws. Often this is for camouflage - notice the tiger is in a snowy environment...

Picking up details like this is important to add to the authenticity of your sketch.

Now try drawing this picture several times, each time speeding up the process and really put yourself under time pressure. Say, two minutes and no more to at least do the final outline.

Now compare your first effort with your last. I bet your final image has much more movement and energy than the first, simply because your practice has made you more confident - which makes you quicker - which makes your drawing look better - so you get more confident and quicker - on an upward spiral of skill...!

So there you have it. Hopefully what you've learned from this how to draw a tiger tutorial is that foreshortening is simply re-educating your brain. Draw what you actually see and not what you know a tiger looks like from a side on view!

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