Introduction: Draw a Cat With Blueberries (let's Draw Manga Lesson 3)

About: I try to make the details simple and the simple detailed. I also do semi-professional pet portraiture. All of my instructables are certified parent approved.

Hello, everyone! It has been a while since I last did a 'Let's Draw Manga' lesson, so here is the third lesson in this four-lesson series. I plan for the last one to be of a person rather than a cat, for those of you who were beginning to wonder. Mazzy Mitchell is the one who aided with that decision, requesting that I do an 'ible on manga humans. I've been sketching people every now and then, and I'm almost ready for it.

That said, this drawing idea was sparked when one of my cats (Tiny) snatched up a fallen blueberry before anyone else could get it, then ate it. The drawing above is not of Tiny, though... it's just a random cat :) . I've never tried drawing manga fruit before and I must admit that I'm pleasantly surprised how it turned out. I have also been doing a LOT of experimenting with shading techniques because I was tired of just plain cell shading (which is shown in the first lesson), and this is the first picture I've drawn using this particular method of shading, which I am also very happy with.

Please leave a comment on which of the styles that I've drawn in that you like the best (out of this lesson, lesson 2, lesson 1, 'how to draw anatomically correct manga cats', or my icon, as of July 2015).

Time taken to draw:
Roughly 4 hours (drawn in one day)

Tools of the trade:

A Computer (I'm using a desktop, but a laptop should work too)

A mouse (no, I don't use a graphics tablet)

Gnu Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), version 2.8 (you can download it here)

Photoshop Elements 13 (optional)

Step 1: Sketching

Often, I will draw my sketches by hand and import them to my PC. This drawing is no exception. I drew this sketch over the hand-drawn one so that you could see it better.
Make sure you use a brush size that is a little bigger than the size you will use for the lineart. 4-8 Pixels will do fine.


Start with a circle, then draw two lines coming from the 'top' and 'bottom' of the circle, going in a similar direction, but pointing towards each other. Draw another line connecting them. This is the muzzle. The longer you draw the two lines, the longer the muzzle. For most cats, the distance between the center of the eye to the nose and the distance from between the center of the eye and the bottom edge of the ear are the same. Two slightly curved triangles can easily make up the base for the ears. The neck is similar to the muzzle, only the lines move away from each other.

Draw a line dividing the circle in half. The center of the eye should be this line. Don't draw the eye yet, though. Draw the nose... yes, the nose... A simple triangle works well. Draw a line from the corner of the nose up to the dividing line on the circle, but angle it a bit more when you get inside the circle. Attach it to the divider. This is the bottom edge of the eye. Now you can draw the eye. Underneath the nose, draw two circles, making the one on top just a little larger. Where these circles intersect is where the mouth goes.

The blueberries are pretty much just circles.

Step 2: Lineart

For the lineart, I used a 2.3 pixel round brush. The dynamics are a custom setting. To make the dynamics, go to the dynamics editor and check the boxes in the matrix that fall under (up) size and (over) fade and velocity, as well as (up) opacity and (over) fade and velocity. With these dynamics settings, you can draw tapered lines almost as well as you could with a graphics tablet.

If you look carefully, you will notice that the face dips slightly lower than the sketch. This is called a 'stop', and almost all cats have one (the exceptions being oriental-type cats). You may also notice that the slope of the forehead and the slope of the top edge of the tear duct are almost parallel. About at the dividing line is where the stop ends and the muzzle begins. The cat is sniffing the blueberries, so make sure you wrinkle up the snout a little. You also may want to fill in the eyelashes (if your cat is a girl).

Hint: Zooming in can really improve the quality of your lineart.

Hint 2: Make the lineart separate from the background.

Hint 3: Darkening the background can help you decide if your lineart is too thick.

Step 3: Basic Coloring

Select the outer edge of your lineart with the lasso select tool. Make a new layer under the lineart layer and fill the selection with whatever color you want. On another new layer, fill in the blueberries. To make the white marking on the cat, draw the outline, then bucket-fill it. You can use the selection tool to add details.

Hint: To get the colors I used, just copy the HTML notations in the pictures above.

Step 4: More Coloring & Some Touch-ups

I decided to change the background to a gradient, thinking about using it as an overlay or something, but I decided not to, so you can ignore it or do it. I also decided to add some more detail to the eyelid (on the lineart layer). The nose and the tear duct are the same color. The ear and the nostril are variations of that color. Add some whisker patterns on the lip.
For now, just ignore the eye. It isn't the right color.

Hint: Lock the alpha channel of the color layer once you put the base color on. That way, when you draw on that layer, it will stay on the cat.

Step 5: The Blueberries

Paint some blue on those blueberries, then use the smudge tool to smooth it. Make a new layer over the base color. Paint the shadows with the color of the blueberries and the highlights with a light blue. Set the layer mode to 'multiply'. If you want more contrast, you can use the curves tool for that. Get rid of the excess shading by holding down the 'alt' key while clicking the picture of the base layer in the layers panel. This will select all of the transparency of the layer. Invert the selection (select>invert), then press 'delete'. It's starting to look like blueberries already!

Make another new layer. Draw some really light (but not white) highlights on it. Smudge it with the curve of the berries, then set the layer mode to 'grain merge'. Repeat the process stated above to get rid of the excess. Make one more new layer. On it, paint some white highlights. Make one or two closest to the light source and one furthest from it for reflected light. Smudge them until you like what you see.

That was surprisingly easy, huh?

Step 6: Shading

For a long time, I was trying to decide on what kind of shading I liked best. It really came down to smooth shading vs cell shading, until I realized: hey, maybe I could use both! So here it is; the best of both worlds (well, sort of).

Duplicate the base color layer and fill it with white. Move it above the lineart layer, but turn off the layer's visibility for now by clicking the eye icon next to the layer. Select the basic shadows with the lasso select tool (set to addition), and fill them in with olive green (on the white layer). Turn layer visibility on and set it's mode to 'multiply'. Make a new layer above the first set of shading. Select the less dark shadows, such as the shadow made by the ear. Use the gradient tool with the gradient 'foreground to transparent' to fill these in. Again, set the layer mode to 'multiply'. Make yet another layer. In this one, use the airbrush tool to shade some details. Set the layer mode to, you guessed it, 'multiply'. At this point you might want to lower the opacity of the shading layers, or the shadows will be way too dark.

Use the eraser tool with a soft round brush and opacity set to about 40 to erase a little bit of the shadow under the neck (on the airbrushed layer). Draw the outlines of fur with a paintbrush. This part can be tricky, but the important thing is that you keep your strokes loose and fast. Drawing fur in manga can be hard. In my opinion, making a clump of manga fur look good can be harder than making a clump of realistic fur look good (then again, I've been doing realisms much longer than I've been doing manga). I'm still not super happy with the result, but it looks better than the attempts where I selected and deleted the clumps instead of outlining them.

Make another new layer and airbrush some light turquoise over the highlights. Set the layer mode to 'soft light'. Delete the excess.

Use the smudge tool to smooth out the shading where needed.

Step 7: The Eye

Okay, now for the eye! Make a layer directly above the base color layer. Fill the eye with an orangey-yellow. Use the dodge/burn tool set on 'highlights' to dodge (lighten) some strokes coming out from and going towards the pupil. Next burn (darken) more strokes with the tool set to 'midtones' and do a few with it set to 'highlights'. Dodge on 'highlights' one more time. Use the smudge tool to tone it down a notch. Burn the rim of the iris, then airbrush it a little. Finally, fill in the pupil with a very dark yellow.

Hint: Use short and quick strokes coming out from the pupil for the detailing.

Step 8: Environmental Lighting and Starting the Background

The cat is indoors under greenish fluorescent lighting, so make a new layer over all of the shading layers and airbrush some green on the highlights. Set the layer mode to 'dodge' and lower the opacity. Delete the excess.

Fill the background layer with white. Make a new layer above the background. Use the 1. pixel brush with the aspect ratio set at around -85 to make tiles. Use the perspective tool to make it look like a floor. Lighten the black tiles with the 'brightness/contrast' filter, merge with the background, then color it with the 'colorize' filter. Select and lighten the wall. Select where the wall and the floor meet and feather the selection by 200. Go to filters>blur>gaussian blur and set it to around 55. Click 'ok'.

Step 9: Drop Shadows, Highlights, & Finishing Up the Background

Using the same color as the shadows on the cat, airbrush some drop shadows for the cat and berries on a new layer. This gives the picture a sense of place. Set the layer mode to 'multiply'.

The background seems a little boring, so let's spice it up some. On the background layer itself, select a rectangle in the corner and feather it by 200 pixels. Fill it in with dark brown. Select another, thinner rectangle right next to it. Also feather this, but fill it in with a lighter brown. This gives the illusion of a doorway.

Airbrush some environmental lighting for the background (on a new layer). Set the layer mode to 'dodge'. On another new layer (above everything) draw some highlights with light blue, then add some white to them. Use the smudge tool to make it seem more natural. Select a wedge shape in the bottom corner of the eye and use the gradient tool with the opacity set to around 40 to give it a reflective sheen.

The background still needs some balance, so we'll make a picture frame. Use the rectangle select tool to select a rectangle in the other corner. Change the selection mode to 'subtract', then select a smaller rectangle inside the other selection. This makes a nice little frame. Fill the selection with brown. Select the inside of the frame, feather the selection, then fill it with blue and use the airbrush tool with a soft brush to add details. I chose to make it a mountain scene. Add a reflection to it like we did with the eye so that it won't look like a window (even though windows can reflect, too).

Select the background again. This time, also select a little of the foreground. Feather the selection by 50 and gaussian blur by 30 pixels.

Step 10: Whiskers & Text Effects

For the whiskers, I use a paintbrush with the 'color from gradient' dynamics using a custom gradient. You can use the 'foreground to transparent' gradient with repeat set on 'triangular wave' for a similar effect. Check the box next to 'smooth stroke' to get the whiskers to look like whiskers.

The text effects are easy. You can write them by mouse or type it up with the text tool. You might want to tilt one 'sniff' to make it look less forced. Draw some squiggly lines under them to show that it is a sound effect and not what the cat is saying.

Step 11: Finishing Up in Photoshop (optional)

This step is completely optional, but if you have Photoshop or some variation of it, I recommend doing this.

Export the image as a JPEG and open it in Photoshop. Go to enhance>color>adjust for skin tones and sample the orange part of the cat. Move the sliders like you see them in picture 2. Click 'ok'.

Make a new layer and fill it with a creamy yellow-orange. Set the layer mode to 'soft light' and lower the opacity to about 65%.

Step 12: You Are Done!

You are finished with... well, at least this instructable, but hopefully also a drawing of your own ;) . I'm planning on my next instructable being a realism of some tigers in colored pencil, which has become one of my favorite mediums to work with, so be sure to keep an eye out for it ^ω^.

Please leave a comment on what you think about this method of drawing or if you would like to know more about the programs used and graphics tablet free digital art. Also, feel free to make suggestions for more instructables and such... just remember the 'be nice' policy :) .

That's all for now. Have fun and keep on makin'!