There is hardly anything cuter than cat paws. Every cat owner loves to fiddle with those tiny pieces of art. It is hard not to get inspired to draw them, isn’t it? Well, you are in good luck because today we will teach you how to draw cat paws, even if your artistic skills are not something you are proud of.
To those who have no artistic training, drawing living creatures can be nothing short of rocket science. Although years of training and practice are invaluable for acquiring the skill, it is actually not hard to draw a good sketch. With a good walkthrough and a bit of practice, anyone can do it.
In this article, we will inform you about all the necessary accessories you will need to start drawing, and we will also tell you a bit about the anatomy, so that you can get a more profound understanding of the feline body. And finally, we will engage in the fun part with you: actually drawing the kitty paw! Have fun and don’t give up!
Prepare the Materials
Before you start, you should think about the things you need. It’s best to be prepared and have everything ready because drawing takes a lot of practice. Here are some accessories and helpful tools that you’ll need.
#1: A Sketchbook
You don’t have to buy expensive sketchbooks right away, but it is very useful to have one, so you can track your progress. A sketchbook is your training ground. Using it every day, at least for a small sketch, is very important if you want to improve your drawing skills.
Going back through your work, you can see the mistakes and what needs improvement, but there is also a clear proof of progress which is really rewarding.
The important part is that the paper should not be lined, just plain blank. This will help you get the feeling for proportions and perspective.
#2: Drawing Pencils
Find a pencil set to begin with. These are very practical because they include all the graphite grades that you need. For example, a usual tin set includes pencils marked 6B to 6H, which are used for different effects.
Very soft graphite pencils (B marks) make a darker, more prominent line while the hard graphite ones (H marks) make a lighter line and need less sharpening.
Try them all out and use them on the first couple of sketches to see which pencils sit best with your style. You can buy individual pencils later.
#3: Charcoal and Conte
Once you’ve tried drawing with charcoal, you will never give it up! It gives a lot of freedom to the artist and comes in all shapes and sizes. It is really a valuable utensil, and it is cheap.
On the other hand, Conte is clay based and is really good for organic forms, such as, you know, cat paws.
Yes, there are many types of erasers, and there is more to it than one would imagine. For example, a standard rubber eraser uses friction to remove the markings from the surface but only works with graphite and can damage the paper. Kneaded and gum erasers preserve the surface and can remove charcoal and other types of markings, but are more expensive.
Try a regular one for starters and see how it works for you.
#5: A Model
We are sure that no amount of persuasion and treats are going to make your cat sit still while you are drawing. You should definitely take a couple of good photos before you start. This way you can have a reference to go back to and track your progress on the same theme.
For example, you could take a couple of photos of a cat in motion, then a couple of shots of the paws, and if you have a glass table, make sure to take a photo of the bottom side of the paws while the cat is sitting on it.
The most important part. Drawing is all about practice, so don’t get discouraged if your first work looks nothing like a paw. Making at least one sketch a day will surely help you improve your skills. Be patient, be determined, and don’t give up!
The Anatomy of a Paw
Whether you are going for a realistic drawing or an abstract one, you can’t skip an anatomy lesson. Of course, we are not going to smother you with complicated terminology and medical concepts, but some basic information is in order.
Here are some tips on how to understand proportions and build.
If you look closely at how the vertebrates are built, you will find a very similar construction of limbs. From shoulder to toes, there is a repeating pattern: one bone connected to two bones connected to branching groups of small bones that build hands, feet, fins, etc.
These three groups are the skeleton of your drawing and the first step. Rough lines that form the initial sketch should be drawn with a 6H pencil and should mimic the anatomy.
See Also: How Many Bones Do Cats Have
#2: Similarities with the Human Hands and Feet
Just as we said earlier, if you are unsure about where to begin, look at your hands and feet. Human hands and feline paws are very similar in build, with the difference being mostly in the length of the fingers. But the main points are the same.
The front paws resemble human hands: five digits, a palm, and an appendix on the wrist. What would be a thumb on a human hand is a dew claw on the cat’s paw and is located a bit higher than the other four. Unlike humans, cats have pads on their paws that enable them to move silently.
When it comes to the feet and hind paws, the situation is even simpler—there are four digits, and the hind paw basically looks like an oversimplified version of a human foot.
Just remember that cats, unlike humans, always walk on their fingertips and use only the fingers and a small part of the palm for support. Yes, they are the ballerinas of the animal world.
See Also: How Fast Can a Cat Run
The great design of a cat’s paw is truly fascinating. One of the most beautifully designed limbs in the animal kingdom also comes with a concealed weapon: retractable claws.
The claws are attached to the last finger bone with an elastic ligament, in a manner that is quite different from human nails—they are not located at the center of the digit, but a bit to the outer side of every finger.
Fun fact: cats can retract and voluntarily extend their claws because this keeps them protected from wear and tear on the walking surfaces. A good hunter always keeps his knife sharp and ready.
Depending on how you want to present the cat in the drawing, you should choose whether the claws are retracted or extended. Retracted claws can be drawn as small dots on the tip of the toes.
When looking at the photo, try to get a feel of the proportions. Drawing even the most basic sketch using the correct proportions will get you much further than obsessing over details but having the scale off.
If you need to, measure the toes, paws, and legs, and then calculate the proportions. When you are ready to start the sketch, take the hardest pencil and draw horizontal lines in the same proportions on the paper, it will help you a lot during the process.
Get Ready to Make Your First Sketch!
Now that you have covered all the theory and necessities, you are ready to start drawing. Remember to have all the pencils you need, a piece of paper, and a lot of patience. It is not hard, we promise. There are a few different methods you can undertake depending on what kind of angle you’d like to draw from.
#1: Draw the Lower Side of the Paw
This is pretty much an iconic image and is very easy to draw. Here is how:
- Draw a triangle. This triangle will be the center pad. Now, sharp angles are not something you will see on a kitty, so this triangle needs a bit of a touch-up. Round up all three edges and make all three sides a bit concave. Now you have a proper center pad.
- Add digits. The four digits should be drawn in an egg shape, proportional to the pad. All four of them should be close together, on the upper sides of the triangle.
If you want, you can add the claws, but the symbolism behind this drawing is already recognizable. Yay, you have your first kitty paw done!
#2: Drawing from the Front View
You will need to draw four more or less horizontal and parallel lines. This will be the upper part of the paw—one that is not touching the ground. At the bottom of those four lines, you should draw a stone shape, so that it’s flat on the lower part and rounded on the upper part. This is the shape of the paw itself.
Now comes the details, i.e., the digits. Four digits that are on the lower part of the paw should fill in the “stone” and be egg-shaped. On the left or the right side of the four lines, a dew claw should be added in a single stroke, like a half of a tear. Now add some fur to the sides and the dots for the claws, and you are all done!
#3: Drawing a Paw from the Side View
Start with an oval shape and add four lines going down from it. These shouldn’t be all parallel, but the middle two should be slightly slanting under an angle that is bigger than that of the two outer ones.
Add a perpendicular line to each of those. This will give you the upper and the lower part of the paw. Draw the “eggs” to the end of the perpendicular lines, just like in the previous example. These are your digits.
Connect the eggs to the lines from the lower side and the rough draft is almost done. Depending on the view, you should also add an ellipse for the dew claw or a little tear-shaped line for the pisiform, parallel to the outermost line. Just like before, add some fur and the claw dots and that is it.
Drawing the Paws and the Legs
Now that you know how to draw a cat’s paw from different angles, it’s time to extend the drawing to cover the legs as well. This might seem a bit more complicated, but by now you’ve probably got the hang of it and have some routine in your fingers.
Drawing paws and legs is not hard when you have the right strategy. Here are some tips to make it happen.
#1: Draw the Skeleton First
By this, we don’t mean the anatomically correct sketch of the leg bones—far from it. What we mean is that you should use a little trick.
The front legs are drawn as a mirrored letter “l,” and the back legs are drawn as “y.” Position them at an angle that is suitable for your drawing. This should be done with a light pencil (like H5) because you will not need these lines later.
#2: Add the Paws
Divide the paw into two parts: one that is touching the ground, and the one that isn’t. These two should be drawn as two ellipses, following the directions of “l” and “y” and overlapping at the ground.
#3: Add the Fingers and the Pads
At this stage, the fingers are drawn in the egg shape, and the pads are circular. Depending on what is visible from the perspective, you should be able to draw between one and five digits on the paws, and possibly pads.
Look at your photo carefully and inspect the angles. This is a very important step because perspective does a lot for a drawing. Done wrong, it can certainly take a lot out of it.
Make sure to remember that the hind paws have an angled appearance (imagine that being the heel of a human walking on their toes, because that is a good analogy). Also don’t forget which part of the front paw you are looking at, because the inner part has a dewclaw, and the outer doesn’t.
#4: Outline the Legs
Now that you have done all the structural drawing, you can make the outlines and see if everything looks fine. Some corrections might be needed here and there, but if the structure and the perspective were done correctly, you should not have a lot of mistakes. You are almost there now—all that is left is a couple of finishing touches.
#5: Add Fur
Cats are fluffy. Part of their elegance is indeed in this fact, and the same goes for your drawing. Adding fluff to the outlines will help with the overall aesthetics and also help you make your drawing more authentic. These should be done with short, small strokes and you should be careful to follow the natural hair direction.
#6: Add Color
This part is optional, but if you want, you can add color to your drawing and conceal the lines you originally used for the skeleton of your sketch. You could also just erase them if you are more into the black and white style.
Drawing a cat’s paw is very simple if you break it down to the elements. The important thing is to get the proportions and the perspective correct.
We hope that this article helped you learn how to draw a kitty paw by yourself. It is so much fun to do, and a wonderful pastime activity while you are chilling with your furry buddy. You can expand your skills even further by trying different perspectives and styles.
And just a tip: try using a live model, preferably during the afternoon nap time while your cat is perfectly still. We are sure she won’t mind. After all, everyone likes the idea of being a model, and what better job is there for a cat—gorgeous by nature?
How did your cat paw sketch turn out? We would love it if you could share your drawing with us! If not that, then a comment will do! If you like to draw, you may also like the art style of Japanese anime. Check out our article on anime cat names.