Big Cats from Charcoal to Color

My latest project involved taking four sketches of big cats that were drawn using charcoal: a tiger. a lion, a leopard, and a cheetah and redoing them in color. Here are the charcoal cats and here are the cats in color.

Do I have a favorite?

The answer is no as they all have different expressions and characteristics. The tiger looks chilled, the lioness looks as if it is thinking about something important, the cheetah is clearly on a mission and the leopard still looks as though he is startled!

I really enjoyed drawing them!

But what next!

As using shades of orange for the tiger was new to me in contrast to the usual of using browns, blacks, and greys, I think I will now go and explore the color orange.

Progress on Startled Leopard and Friends

Progress continued on drawing four big cats.

I completed the lioness and I am very happy with the way she turned out.

Progress then turned to the other three cats. I began with the leopard that had a startled expression. Having continued to layer up the fur and refine the detail I thought the expression would soften. It hasn’t… it still has a startled look. At first, I admit I was a bit unsure. But now I am now OK with it. It is good to capture emotion within a drawing rather than always portraying a perceived perfection.  The expression did provoke discussion which is always welcome.

After good progress, I then did some more work on the tiger.

Thankfully with the inclusion of the eyes, it is now looking a lot less ghoulish. Usually, I am building up the texture of brown, black or grey fur and therefore combining all the different oranges, yellows, and reds with cinnamon and terracotta to build a plush tiger coat has been quite a challenge.

Being so engrossed in this, I did not do my usual of rotating between drawings. I find rotating between different drawings worthwhile as it lets you figure out where to go and what to do next. Not taking that time to consider a drawing can lead to mistakes. This nearly happened with the tiger as the area around the mouth was in danger of looking like he was recovering from an anesthetic after a trip to the dentist!

As well as that near miss, the result of not rotating between drawings is that no further progress has been made on the cheetah.

I will now give the tiger some space and will continue with the cheetah and the Leopard.

Hopefully, all three will be completed next week


Big Cats Under Construction!

My current project involves big cats. I started with four individual charcoal drawings of a lioness, a leopard, a cheetah, and a tiger.   The next stage was then to develop each cat into a color drawing using color pencil and pan pastel.

I started with the lioness.  Here is the work in progress.

Four images of the drawing of a lioness
Four images showing the different stages of drawing a lioness

Reference: Wildlife Reference Photos 

She is not quite finished as there is a bit of refinement still required, particularly down the right side. I really enjoyed drawing her as the warm glow of the yellows, browns, and ochres contrasted with the cool greys and blues of the wolf that was the subject of my previous project. Drawing her has made me think of summer!

I have also made a start on the other three cats.

The reference image for the leopard was one that I was initially not too sure of as I felt it lacked detail, but I decided to go ahead anyway. Despite a wobbly start, I persevered and I am now happy with the way this cat is turning out.

leopard work in progress
leopard work in progress

Take a look at the first picture in the work in progress, it reflects how I often feel at the start of a new project, one of slight panic wondering how it will turn out.

Thankfully through perseverance, this leopard is now developing to the point that I can give a sigh of relief.

Reference: Jason Morgan

The next one up is the cheetah, a slightly different type of reference shot as it shows her clearly on a mission. I decided to fill the pastel mat to gain maximum impact. It will be interesting to see how this turn out.

Two images showing the early stages of drawing a cheetah
Two images showing the early stages of drawing a cheetah

Reference: Pixabay

The Tiger was the last to be started and it is still at the pan pastel foundation layer. The lack of eyes makes it a bit ghoulish.

Tiger work in progress showing the initial pan pastel application.
Tiger work in progress showing the initial pan pastel application.

Reference: Jason Morgan

Having now made a start on all four cats, I will rotate between them until I am finished.