Tiger Drawing

Tiger Life-Drawing Lesson


Did you ever wonder how movie animators make animals look so real? Follow along with story artist David Derrick as he draws a realistic tiger. You can create a striped big cat of your very own!


Drawing a tiger from life.

Drawing a Realistic Tiger

Tigers are sleek, striped animals with many interesting markings that make them special. David studies his subjects carefully, getting to know their individual characteristics as he starts to draw.

Drawing a tiger face.

1. About Face

Starting with a large oval:

  • Highlight the cheekbones
  • Add nose at an angle
  • Follow a central line down the face
  • A slight tear duct S curve edges the mouth
  • Strong jaw muscles
  • Ears have a larger upper part and lower fold
Adding stripes

2. Learning Your Lines

Add some stripes:

  • Different tiger subspecies have different stripes
  • A Malayan tiger's face stripes are bold
  • On the head, stripes radiate out from the middle line
  • Tigers have eyeliner-like stripes under their eyes
  • Large stripes frame the face
  • Tigers have bold whisker spots
Adding eyes.

3. The Better to See You With

A tiger's intense eyes make them come to life.

  • A tiger's pupils are always round
  • A dark outline rims the eyes
  • Tiny guard hairs stand up near the eyes
Adding color

4. In Living Color

Add some color:

  • Some tigers are orange; others are more yellowish
  • Apply lighter colors first, then the darker ones
  • Some areas of a tiger are white
  • Remember the pink nose!
Adding shade.

5. Made in the Shade

Add some subtle shading.

  • Cooler colors provide contrast
  • Dry brush techniques add texture
  • Their eyes have a touch of green in them
  • Darker brown mimics shady areas

Remember—have fun! Art is your interpretation of what you see. Ready? Set? Draw a tiger!