Drawing A Spotted Big Cat

There are a lot of big cats, and most of them look very similar. In the interest of not drawing this pattern more than once, I’m going to draw one spotted big cat, which can double as a leopard…

African Leopard  (wikipedia.org)

African Leopard



Cheetah (wikipedia.org)

…and jaguar.

Jaguar (wikipedia.org)


I normally start with the biggest part of the animal, but this time, I started with the hind leg.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 10.08.22 AM

I drew a toe-like shape and copied it twice more.Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 10.08.35 AMNow, I’m going to draw the body, which I should have done to begin with, to see where the legs will live.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 10.27.49 AM

I can add more legs, because I know where they belong.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 10.36.43 AM

And then there were four…

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 10.42.17 AM

Now, for arguably the hardest part: the head. This is the second or third version of a head that I did.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 11.22.21 AM

Admittedly, it doesn’t look like much, but you have to have imagination. Let’s put it on the body and see how it looks.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 11.25.48 AMI think It’ll work. Now to integrate it with the body, rather than just having it sit on a truncated neck.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 11.28.10 AM

I extended the neck and hid the lines. Better, no? All he needs is a tail and we can start the process of giving him his spots.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 11.34.16 AM

This is where drawing with pencil and paper win over digital drawing, since the leopard print pattern would be so much easier with traditional media. Illustrator is excellent for precise, but not so good with splotchy.

Since I’m not going for 100% realistic accuracy, I’m just going to draw a simple, vaguely leopard print pattern and hope for the best.

Remember, this is basically what I’m trying to achieve:


I tried at least three different types of leopard print patterns, but none of them looked as good as just plain old dots.

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 12.02.18 PM

Here’s what our cat looks like later in the process:

Screen shot 2015-07-15 at 1.48.42 PM

I still need to do the tail and finish the shading.

Once the spots were finished, I toned down the color, added some highlights and countouring, put him on a background, and uploaded it to Redbubble, where you can buy your own.


Thanks for reading,