How to Draw a Cat

How to Draw a Cat

9 min read

Let's be real, cats rule the internet.

Cat typing on laptop

They're everywhere, and we all love watching them, judging by the number of views cat videos receive on YouTube (it was 25 billion in 2014, by the way!). There's so much we don't understand about their behavior, and that's probably why they're such a popular entertainment topic.

‍Cats, or more precisely domestic cats (Felis catus), are relatively small, carnivorous mammals. If you're a cat owner, you know that these enigmatic purring creatures love to catch rodents, small birds, reptiles, and insects as their prey – and to leave these as gifts on your pillow.

Cats do love us, but they aren't as obedient as dogs. They don't care if you don't want them to throw breakable objects on the floor. Heck, they've even been trampling over precious manuscripts since Renaissance times.

Cat paw prints on a fifteenth-century Balkan manuscript
Cat paw prints on a fifteenth-century Balkan manuscript. Image Source: Strange History

Humans basically worship cats, but this is nothing new.

Passionately idolizing cats has a long tradition that dates back to Ancient Egypt. There, felines were worshiped and frequently depicted in statues and even embalmed with their deceased owners during that period so they could stroll around together in the afterlife.

Blue Egyptian faience cat figurine
Egyptian faience cat figurine dated to 1981−1802 BC. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the early twentieth century, a new word was introduced to describe someone who loves cats: ailurophile.

We, the cat butlers at Vectornator, know our rightful place as cat lovers and caretakers, which is why we present our step-by-step cat drawing guide to you today.

Butlers, let's be creative and draw our lovable overlord, the cat!

What You'll Need:
• iPad
• Apple Pencil
• The latest version of Vectornator
What You'll Learn:
• How to use the Pen Tool
• How to use the Pencil Tool
• How to use the Shape Tool
• How to use Gradients
Hex Color Codes:
Baby Blue #8FDBFF
Dark Gray #080404
Creamy-White #FBEBE0
Black #000000
Light Red #F66767
Dark Red #EF3636

The Preparation

Before we start drawing, we need to do some research first. We always return to the fundamentals of drawing when using our design software.

Carefully study many cat photos from different angles and positions to grasp their basic body shape, facial features, head shape, and fur patterns. Cats have tiny skulls compared to their body size, so make sure to get the head in proportion.

Do some initial sketches on a piece of paper. Even digital artists still rely on drawing paper and pencils before commencing their work on a drawing pad.

Analyzing cat videos can be helpful, too. Watching cat videos is now part of the creative study, not a time-wasting activity! Studying cat behavior is an important step in your cat anatomy drawing process and will help you understand the feline muscle structure so that you can create a believable pose.

The body of the cat is composed of different connected geometric shapes. They have a fascinating skeletal structure – notice how a cat's back curves when they're seated.

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Analyze and identify the shape of each body part and the cat proportions. You can draw these basic shapes directly onto your cat reference image if you want to.

In our tutorial, the artist has chosen a Siamese cat as a reference, but you can also choose a different feline breed.

The first simple step is to open a new document in Vectornator by tapping the + button.

You can either select a template or set the size of your document manually. Create a new layer in the Layers Tab and name it “Background”.

In the Fill Section of the Style Tab (or the Color Widget), set the color to a baby blue (#8FDBFF) by using the HEX Color Button. Toggle the Stroke off and the Fill Mode on.

Select the Rectangle Shape in the Toolbar. Drag the shape across the screen until it covers the canvas completely with the baby blue color. You can import the sketch you made on physical paper into Vectornator by using the Camera Import option.

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Pro Tip: Learn more about how to set the Hex Color in Vectornator.
Step 1

Draw the Body, Head, and Tail

In the next step of our tutorial, we will create a blank cat outline with a gradient.

Create a new layer and name it “Cat”. Drag the layer “Cat” over the layer “Background”.

Set the fill color to creamy white in the Color Widget or the Style Tab. Go to the Toolbar on the left side of your screen and tap on the Pencil Tool.

Draw the body, head, and tail of a cat
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Pro Tip: You can adjust the smoothness of the stroke with the slider next to the Pencil tool. If you're a beginner at drawing, don't be ashamed to crank the smoothness of the Pencil Tool up to the max!
If you want to correct the shape after drawing it, you can use the Eraser Tool or the Node Tool.

Start drawing the cat's body, and add the tail when you're satisfied with the result.

Analyze the outlines of the torso and the head. Observe the proportions and how the head is attached to the torso.

In the Color Widget, choose a Linear Gradient in the Fill Well. Set the slider on the left to dark gray #080404 and the slider to the right to creamy-white #FBEBE0.

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Pro Tip: When you select the shape with the Selection Tool, you can adjust the direction of the gradient with the Gradient Direction Handle.
Step 2

Draw the Ears and Chin and Apply a Gradient to the Ears

We're drawing our cat's facial details: the head, chin, and ears.

To draw the head of the cat, we'll continue to use the Pencil Tool. Keep a close eye on your reference image, and pay special attention to the cat's “pawsture”.

When you draw the curved lines of the ears, you can either use the Pencil Tool or the Pen Tool.

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Pro Tip: If you're relatively new to drawing with Vectornator's Pen Tool, you can first practice by drawing a few simple geometric shapes. If certain shapes are too difficult to draw, you can always revert to the Pencil Tool and simply adjust the Path of your Shape afterward using the Node Tool.

When you're done drawing the ears, send them to the bottom of your stacking order by using the Move to Back gesture in the Arrange Tab or Quick Actions Bar.

Draw a cat's head and ears

Select the larger circle of the head shape and flesh out the chin by using the Node Tool.

Select the head shape, and in the Fill Section of the Color Widget set the center color of the gradient to black #000000 and the outer gradient color to creamy white by using the Color Sliders.

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Pro Tip: You can adjust the center point of the radial gradient by using the Gradient Handle.
Step 3

Draw the Eyes

In our next step, we'll draw our cat's eyes.

Before you start drawing, remember that it's not a problem if you slightly overdraw the basic almond shape; you can fix it later by creating a Mask.

Draw the blue almond-shaped eye with the Pen Tool or the Pencil Tool. Take a close look at the eye size and shape of the cat in your reference image. Add a slightly darker half-moon-shaped shadow over the basic blue shape to give it dimension.

Finish the eye with a white dot for the eye reflexes by drawing a circular shape on the dilated pupil with a white fill. Once you finish one eye shape, you can duplicate and flip the finished eye to the other side.

Next, we'll use the Mask operation. Select the elements you want to mask (dilated pupil, eye shadow, eye reflexes) plus the shape you want to use as a mask (blue almond shape), and then tap the button inside the Path Tab.

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Pro Tip: In Masking, the top object will always be the Mask Shape.
Step 4

Draw the Snout and Nose

You can draw the cat's snout by using the Pencil tool or the Pen Tool.

Set the fill and stroke color to pure black #000000. Draw the two half-moons of the snout, where the whiskers will radiate from.

You can make this easier by only drawing one-half of the snout and then duplicating and flipping the shape, as we did with the eye shapes in Step 3.

Draw a cat's snout and nose

Draw the cat's snout by using the Pencil Tool. Pay attention to proportions when drawing the snout in relation to the nose shape and the rest of the face.

Vector drawing of a Siamese cat in front of a blue background
Step 5

Add the Front and Back Legs

In our next step, we will add the front and back legs to the torso.

Add the two front legs and the visible hind leg with the Pen Tool. Observe how each leg is shaped in the reference image.

Keep in mind that the back leg is bent, but the front legs are straight. If you have trouble drawing the hind leg, you can use images of cat skeletons as an additional reference.

Drawing a cat's legs

Don't forget to move the front leg partly covered by the other front leg to the back of your stack by using the Move to Back gesture in the Arrange Tab or the Quick Actions Bar.

Vector drawing of a Siamese cat in front of a blue background
Step 6

Draw the Furry Details

This is our favorite part! Next, we'll draw the furry details of our cat.

For drawing the whiskers and fur, we'll use the Brush Tool.

Drawing cat fur on iPad
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Pro Tip: The Brush Tool in Vectornator has a Brush Editor that allows you to adjust your brush's shape, contour, and pressure sensitivity. Additionally, you can use brush presets.

Draw the long, white whiskers that sprout above the eyes and the snout area. Add tiny fur hairs on the body and the face. Play with the Brush Editor by creating new brush presets!

Drawing a cat's whiskers

When you're done, lock the layer “Cat”.

Add the Foreground Elements

In the next step of our fun cat drawing tutorial, we'll create a ball of yarn in the foreground of the image.

Create a new layer, name it “Foreground,” and then drag it over the "Cat" layer.

To make your ball of yarn, draw a circle with the Shape Tool. Scale and position the ball by using the Selection Tool.

Toggle the Fill Mode on and the Stroke Mode off, and set the Fill Color to #F66767.

Select the Brush Tool to draw the threads. Toggle the Fill Mode off and the Stroke Mode on. Set the color of the stroke to #EF3636. Draw a crosshatching pattern inside the ball shape and create soft flowing curves that stick out slightly from the sides of the ball shape.

Drawing a cat with a ball of yarn
Step 7

Add the Background Elements

In our last step, we'll add a floor and a patterned wall to the background.

Create the layer “Background” and drag it under the "Cat" layer. In the Layers Tab, select the layer “Background”.

Use the Rectangle Shape and the gradient fill to create the floor and the wall separation.

Drawing a cat with a ball of yarn and a patterned background

If you want to add the flower shape as the wallpaper pattern, tap the Library Tab in the Inspector Bar.

Tap again on the Iconator Tab and search for the word “Flower”. Select a flower shape and drag it onto the canvas. Adjust the color and size of the flower shape to your liking.

Duplicate and position the shape to create the wallpaper pattern.

Vector drawing of a Siamese cat in front of a blue patterned background

Purr-fect! You've just completed your cat drawing project.

Do you like what you see? Does the cat-master approve? If you haven't already, download Vectornator and get started on your own animal illustrations.

To keep improving your digital drawing skills, check out other cool drawing tutorials to learn how to draw a bat, how to draw a rabbit, and more.

And don't forget to post your artwork on our social media channels and community gallery. Keep your eyes peeled for more upcoming tutorials!

Download Vectornator to Get Started

Take your designs to the next level.

How to Draw a Cat with Vectornator
How to draw a Siamese cat

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