Sharpen your pencils and get ready for action!
You are going to learn how to draw kittens right now.
This may seem like a complicated task at first, but if you break it down into many simple steps it is quite doable.
You need pencils of different grades of hardness.
I used 2H, HB, 2B and 4B for the picture here.
At the very least you should have one hard pencil (something with H) and one soft pencil (something with B).
A kneaded eraser will also come in handy, but is not absolutely necessary.
But you’ll need an eraser of some sort.
With your gear in place, let’s get this cuddly kitty on our paper!
How to draw Kittens – Step 1: Outlining the Body
The best way how to draw kittens is to start with an outline of the body, made of very simple forms.
Draw it very lightly (HB pencil), because you will have to erase most of it later.
My lines here are only so dark, because I deepened the contrast for the images so that you can see them better.
In reality they are very faint.
Start by drawing a circle for the kitten’s head.
Don’t make it to small.
Otherwise it will be difficult to draw in all the details later.
In reality my circle is about 3 inches in diameter, slightly bigger than shown here.
We will use the head (the height of this circle) as our standard unit.
That means we will measure the size of the other body parts in heads.
The ears for example have roughly the height of half a head at the outer edges.
Draw them in so that they lean slightly apart.
Sketch two light lines that will help you to draw the torso.
Both are one head length away from the circle.
One is horizontal and defines the ground the kitten is sitting on.
The other is vertical and marks the back end of the kitten’s body.
With these lines in place, you can now draw in an oval for the kitten’s torso.
The dotted red line marks where the oval starts to bend stronger downwards on the left.
It’s in the middle between head and vertical line.
Draw in the front legs and paws.
One paw covers the head a little bit, because the kitten is cleaning itself.
Place the elbows about in the middle between floor and head.
Add the hind leg and the tail.
The tail can extend over the vertical line.
Now the whole body of the kitten is defined through simple round forms.
Next we are going to add details to each body part.
How to Draw Kittens – Step 2: Details for Head and Paws
Draw in details for the feet.
For the front paw these are just three curved lines, which go down to the ground.
For the hind paw these lines don’t touch the ground but leave a little space.
Draw in half circles into this space.
In many little steps we are going to draw the kitten’s face now.
Several guidelines will help you to place the eyes correctly.
The horizontal straight middle line just makes sure that you place the eyes into the lower half of the face.
The curved lines indicate the direction in which the kittens head is turned, which is slightly down and to the left (right from your point of view).
That’s why its left eye is a bit closer to the edge of the head than the right eye.
After you have placed the circles for the eyes, draw in a triangle for the nose and add the snout and the mouth below.
Draw in two little nostrils into the sides of the triangle and give it a light bulge in the middle of the top.
Then add the eyelids.
Let them meet in pointy spikes at the eye corners and place the inner corner of the eye very low, while the outer corner oft the eye sits pretty high.
Then draw two diagonal lines that go upwards from the nose so that they reach between the eyes.
In this picture I have narrowed the left eye a bit.
The kitten is closing it slightly, because it is pressing its paw against the face there.
But you can leave your eye unchanged, if you want.
Outline the ears and the paw more realistically.
The paw is flat at the bottom and only rounded at the top.
Separate it in four areas and draw a claw into each.
The outer ear-lines just bent in and out a little.
Erase the old lines, where necessary.
Since the eyes are now in place, you can erase the construction lines.
Then draw in two ovals for the pupils and cover them on the upper right with little circles for a highlight.
They indicate that the light is coming from the upper right corner.
Draw a second line closely around your eyes to get full eyelids.
At the inner corner of the eyes, these new lines connect with the lines that come up from the nose.
You are finished with the details for all the body parts.
Now let’s create a beautiful fur pattern for our kitty.
How to Draw Kittens – Step 3: Fur Pattern for Head
Draw a long v-shape with slight zigzag lines down the forehead.
It should reach slightly lower than the upper eyelids.
Two lines go out of the V towards the outer corner of the eye.
Make them very jagged.
Add two specks above the eyes and extend the pattern so that it forms a rim around the eyes.
First complete the outline of the snout with a curved line, which reaches as far to the left as the outer corner of the eye.
(I just forgot to do this in the previous step, ups.)
On the right side you don’t need such a line, because it would be covered by the paw anyway.
Separate the snout from the upper parts of the face with two ragged lines that start from the edges of the nose and bulge a bit downwards.
Then draw in several forked strands of fur at the left side of the face (left from your point of view). On the right side I added just a little pattern at the outer corner of the eye and another one that is partially covered by the paw.
Outline the fur that separates the ear from the rest of the head.
Give slightly different shape, thickness and length to the single fur spikes so that they look natural.
Note that these separating fur-lines arch slightly downwards, too.
Then draw in two lines which start from the fur around the eyes and go up to the fur under the ears, so that the forehead on the left and right is divided into two parts.
Now you have established a nice pattern of fur for the face.
Outline the fur pattern for the rest of the body in the next step.
How to Draw Kittens – Step 4: Fur Pattern for Body
Draw in many stripes and a couple of specks into the fur of the body.
The stripes should bend in a way that supports a three-dimensional look (emphasized by the red arrows).
Their bending gives volume to the kitten’s body.
If you would draw these stripes like straight lines, it would look flat and unrealistic.
When you have outlined the fur pattern completely, you can consider the kitten to be finished as a line drawing.
Everything you need is there, and in theory you could stop here (or take a break).
But if you want your kitten to look more realistic, you are just halfway through this how to draw kittens lesson.
From here on we will use pencils of different grades.
General Advice for Fur Drawing:
Draw fur with many little lines.
Always switch between shorter lines and a bit longer lines and slightly vary the direction they’re going.
Otherwise the fur will look too ordered and unnatural.
Also change the strength (pressure of the pencil) between the lines a little.
This will make some lines slightly darker than others.
You can let empty white lines of paper in between, which will look like brighter hairs among the darker ones.
Keep your pencils highly sharpened all the time.
Then the lines you draw will be very thin and look like hairs.
How to Draw Kittens – Step 5: Fur Texture for Head
Before you start to draw in the fur, I recommend that you slightly erase your lines, so that they are very faint.
But you should still be able to see them clearly.
I used a kneaded eraser, which I rolled over the paper.
This makes all lines paler for the same degree.
Pencils with different grades of hardness are important for a good fur texture.
You won’t be able to build a strong contrast from dark fur to light fur with the same pencil.
I just mention the pencils I used for each area; yours don’t have to be exactly the same, though.
(For all pictures below I had to strengthen the contrast to make the single lines better visible. In reality the colors are not as dark as shown here, but slightly brighter.)
Start with a hard pencil (2H) and draw in the fur of the forehead and the hairs in the ears with many little strokes.
Observe in which directions the lines are bending.
In the middle of the v-shaped outline they are just vertical.
But at the sides they are curving diagonally towards the ears.
The hairs in the ears are also slightly bent and not straight.
Draw in the black v-shape with lines that are largely vertical, but also point a bit sideward at the edges (use a soft 2B pencil for this dark values).
Also darken the areas left and right from the V a little bit in the middle (HB).
Add another slim V with an HB pencil into the middle of the first V.
Draw in the fur at the sides of the forehead with a 2H pencil (barely visible in the picture here).
Add the black specks above the eyes and draw a thin black rim around the iris with a 2B pencil.
Redraw the outline of the eyelids if necessary (HB) and fill in the pupil (4B). Watch out that you don’t draw over the highlight, though.
Shade in the iris with a 2B pencil.
I first filled them in completely with a faint grey while pressing the pencil down very lightly.
Then I shaded a smooth transition from the dark outline to the brighter value inside.
Take a 2B pencil that is sharpened to a needle point and drawn in many little lines into the iris, which start at the rim and point towards the eye center.
But don’t let them touch the pupil.
Shade the eyelids with an HB.
Use a 2B for the darkest areas at the innermost corners.
Shade the bridge of the nose with many little faint vertical lines (HB).
Make them darker at the edges.
Fill in the dark fur of the stripes at the sides of the head with a 2B pencil.
Note that the lines are all a little bit curved and radiate outwards from the eyes.
Outline the shape of the nose and shade it with a 2B pencil.
Leave a highlight at the upper right.
The nostrils are the darkest part.
Make them completely black.
Add fur all around the sides of the head with a HB pencil, but leave the snout white. Let the lines for the fur flow in the same direction as for the darker stripes you drew in before.
Draw very light fur between eyes and snout, but leave the white area around the eyes untouched.
I only added very few and slight lines with a 2H pencil into the white areas around the eyes, so that they stay white, but are not completely empty.
These lines are so faint that you don’t see them in the scan at all, but they’re useful to give the impression that there is also fur around the eyes, and not just white emptiness.
On one side they are pushed aside by the paw.
Shade the mouth and the lip.
Just add a little shadow where the snout spreads apart right under the nose and make the edges of the lip slightly darker.
Outline the snout and the chin with a darker zigzag line, if necessary (HB).
Sprinkle in single darker hairs into all areas.
Into the dark 2B areas I added some darker lines with a 4B pencil, and into the others I added darker lines with 2B and HB, just to make the fur values a bit more uneven in general.
Finally add a few dark spots on the snout (2B) and you’re done with the head.
The rest of the body will be much easier because it is not the center of attention in the picture and the details are not that important.
How to Draw Kittens – Step 6: Fur Texture for Body
Fill all other areas you outlined in the fur of the body with a 2B pencil.
Watch carefully into which direction you draw the fur lines.
At the upper back they are vertical, but at the legs they point rather downwards.
Just think in which direction the fur would grow naturally on this body part.
Fill in the rest of the fur with a HB pencil. These lighter lines should point in the same direction as the dark ones around them.
Draw only very few ragged lines to the belly, so that it still looks white, but hairy.
These lines should point downwards.
Then separate the head from the rest of the body with a 2B pencil and redraw the paws with stronger lines where you erased them.
(Ignore the background here. You see it completely in the picture below)
Darken the fur everywhere at the lower left, since the light source is at the upper right:
Add a shadow at the back, at the left side of the legs, under the head and at the lower left side of the face.
I also used an HB pencil for this, only pressed it down harder.
Then sprinkle in a few darker lines into the brighter areas again, that it looks a bit more uneven.
Additionally I shaded the edges of the pupils, so that they are broader and look friendlier now.
Congratulations, with that last step you finished your kitten!
How to Draw Kittens – Step 7: Background (Optional)
You can draw a simple background around your kitten to complete the picture.
This doesn’t need to be anything complicated.
Just sketch a little scene to ground it in a place where it could be in reality.
I just sketched a rough windowsill under its paws, added the bars of a window behind it with a few straight lines and hinted at the wallpaper in the room with a couple of uneven vertical lines.
Then I added a shadow under the windowsill and shaded the vertical window bars at the left side, and the horizontal one at the under side, so that it all fits to the light source at the upper right corner.
Although there is not much detail in the background and I made no attempt to perfect it, it gives the picture a completely different feeling.
Just add a hint of background and surroundings and your picture will look finished.
I’m sure you did a great job with your pencil drawing!
Even if there are parts in your picture that you aren’t content with, the main point is that you learned something new during the drawing process and enjoyed it!
So that’s it with this how to draw kittens lesson.
Keep practicing and have fun!