Introduction: How to Draw a Cat Eye (with Video Tutorial)

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! Long time no see. I'm sorry that I abandoned y'all for a while, but life's been pretty hectic lately, so I'm still not going to be able to post once a month like I used to.

Anyways, a while back I'd made a cat eye tutorial similar to this one. It's kind of old, and very much not how I draw now, especially now that I have Photoshop Elements 13. I still used GIMP to draw most of this; so if you don't have Photoshop, don't worry.

I have also put together a speedpaint and a (almost) real-time video tutorial for you. I hope you enjoy!


Video Tutorial

By the way, there is a special surprise at the end for those that read (or at least skim) through it... ;)

Step 1: First, a Few Rules... (sorry, It Had to Be Said)

What's fun without the rules? Yeah, I know... not too fun... but I recently ran into some issues. A person on YouTube had taken some of my original content and posted it in a video. Fortunately, after a few emails, the nice YouTube copyright complaint people removed the three stolen videos.

In an attempt to keep things like this from happening in the future, I've put together a list of the things that you can and cannot do with my instructables, as well as how you can get permission to use the non-watermarked versions of my work. I hope you understand and respect these rules.

_-IMPORTANT NOTICE-_: If you have made any crafting/art instuctables, I suggest browsing her videos to make sure she hasn't taken anything of yours, as everything she had uploaded is stolen material, some of which I recognize from instructables. (link)

The list of cans and can'ts:

You CAN use my instructables for your education.

You CAN use the tips in my photography instructables (as of yet, though, I don't have any) for images you plan to sell. I'd like a bit of attribution for it, but it's not a necessity.

You CAN take my general concepts, improve on them, and upload the improvement in your own instructable/video, but ONLY if you use your own, original work... and I'd like some credit, too, but again, not necessary.

You CAN definitely draw in my cartooning/manga style or base your style off of mine, but please refrain from using it commercially without permission (you can do whatever you want with it if you've changed it up to be something all your own).

You CAN reference to or quote my instructables/art in other websites and even in books and videos, so long as you provide a direct link to the instructable you are referencing, and do not actually use any of my original images.

You CAN definitely use my cooking instructables by following them exactly or incorporating your own ideas. I encourage experimentation, but feel free to use them in their original format as well.

You CAN NOT use my instructables, art, or photographs in your work without written (or typed) permission from me.

You CAN NOT sell any art you have created from following my instructables without written (or typed) permission from me. The exceptions being local sales to family and friends, or if someone sees the piece in person and directly asks to purchase it.

You CAN NOT use my recipes as food options in a restaurant/store without written (or typed) permission from me. Selling items made by following my recipes is fine for small things like Cake Walks, Charity Baking Sales, Garage Sales, and other Fund-Raising activities, just not commercially.

For some of you, this might seem like an extreme reaction, but remember, my art is my main source of income, and if I don't do or say anything about minor copyright violations, I'm afraid more serious ones may follow. I hope y'all understand this. I try to be a reasonable person.

If you would like to use my art, photographs, or recipes for something other than the allowed uses stated above, just ask via private messaging or the comments section of my instructables. It isn't hard, only takes about a minute, and I'll be sure to get back with you ASAP. :)

Oh, and another reason why it's best to contact me before taking my stuff - I've got the original, unwatermarked versions of my images. So, if you don't want to deal with those annoying watermarks... ;P

Anywho, on to the actual instructable (and a HUGE THANK YOU for taking the time to read this. It means a lot)! :)

Step 2: Sketch

First, simply sketch out the eye. You can do this on paper and take a picture of it, or you can do it on the computer. I recommend starting with a relatively small canvas. I used a 605x425 pixel canvas

I also recommend using a bright color for the sketch, such as red. This way you won't get it confused with the lineart later on. You can also darken your canvas to make the screen easier to look at.

Step 3: Lineart

For this step, you will want the smoothest look you can get, so I recommend increasing the canvas size to around 4500 pixels by 2700 pixels. I used a 4-pixel hard, round brush with custom dynamics made to stimulate the look created with a graphics tablet (which I do not have). To create the dynamics, look at the pictures above.

For the lineart, make a new layer for it, and try to be quick, fluid, and smooth. No one likes messy lineart; it can ruin the whole drawing! Feel free to touch up with the eraser tool where it is needed. Try to keep the minor lines (i.e. the crease marks under the eye) subtle and transparent. That way it won't draw attention away from the eye.

Also, if your cat is a molly (a female cat), adding eyelashes can give her an extra bit of girlishness. Make sure you fill the eyelashes in. I used black, but you can use whatever color you want.

For a more detailed and precise version, please watch the video tutorial...

Step 4: Coloring It In

Here's the fun part! Make a layer under the lineart. I like to do the eye on a separate layer from the rest of the coloring. This way I can easily make changes to it later on.

Use the fuzzy select tool to select the iris. This won't work unless if you are on the lineart layer. Go back to the color layer, then click Select>Grow>Grow Selection by two pixels. Fill the iris with whatever color you want. Lock the alpha channel by clicking the grey checkered box in the layers panel. This will keep all of your lines inside the iris.

The dodge/burn tool is great for adding details to the eye. Experiment with different settings and dynamics to find what works best for your piece. I used the 'highlights' setting for the dodge tool with my lineart dynamics and a very large, very soft, round brush. For the burn tool, I switched the mode to 'shadows'. To make the rims around the edges of the eye, I made the brush smaller. Once you're done with the detailing, blur the iris by a few pixels. Use the smudge tool to smooth it out.

I also usually do the pupil on a separate layer so that I don't mess up the iris when I smudge it out.

Finally, on a layer underneath everything (you can delete the sketch), add the rest of the colors using the fuzzy select technique mentioned above. Be creative! There are no right or wrongs here! It doesn't even matter what you color in first.

Again, if you're having trouble understanding this, refer to the video.

Step 5: Shading

The thing that has probably changed the most in my style is the way I shade. I like to call it 'semi-smooth cell shading'.

First, (on a new layer over everything) select your shadows with the lasso select tool. Fill this in with whatever color you want your shadows to be. I chose a dark, vivid blue. Set the layer mode to 'multiply'. To change the layer mode, click the downward-facing arrow next to the word 'normal' in the layers tab.

Go to layer>transparency>alpha to selection (hot key: Alt+Click). Clicking this will re-select your shadows if you got rid of the selection... Invert this selection by going to select>invert (hot key: Ctrl+i). Make a new layer, then fill the selection with the color you want to use for the highlights. Set the layer mode to one of the blending modes. I like to use either "overlay" or "soft light", but "grain merge" can also work well.

Use the airbrush, on new layers, to add soft shadows and highlights.

Add a gradient or two with the blend tool to add extra depth and a faint glow to the eye.

Step 6: Touching Up in Photoshop

Export the image as a JPEG, then open it in Photoshop. This is optional, but can improve your art by leaps and bounds! Follow the pictures, as they can explain things much better than I can. Just make sure you work on a duplicate of the drawing so you can go back to the original at any time.

Step 7: And You're Done!

Whoo-hoo! We're done!

Now... About that surprise... Free lineart! You can use this line drawing of my cat for icons, banners, and even in full-blown digital masterpieces. The only things you can not do with it are A: claim it is yours, and B: Make money with it/use it commercially. If you do use it, please leave a comment showing it off. I'd love to see what creative designs you can come up with! Have fun!