Tiger Drawing

Myra Naito
6 min readNov 16, 2022

Step by Step Process

I thought I’d take you through the step by step drawing process of my latest tiger drawing.

Charcoal tiger drawing on paper (Artwork: Myra Naito) 18"x24"

Every artist has their own particular step by step drawing process (or processes) that’s unique to them. Here’s a peek into mine…

Reference Photos

I always use reference photos. My drawings are so detailed that it would be impossible to do the work with the animal sitting in front of me. And in the case of this tiger drawing, where would I get a real live tiger to pose for me?

Also, there’s no animal in the world that will sit still long enough So the first part of my step by step drawing process is to obtain portrait quality photos.

Portrait Quality Reference Photos

By “portrait quality” I mean photos that are primarily not blurry. That seems like it would be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at what some people give me. I also need shots which have a nice clear, close up view of the animal’s face. Again, you’d be surprised. It is supposed to be for a portrait after all! How can I draw the animal’s face if the photos don’t show it clearly? To see exactly what I’m looking for in reference photos check out my page on Planning Your Photographs.

Once I decide on a shot (or shots — sometimes I have to use a combination of two), I decide on what background elements to include, if any. For this particular tiger drawing, the photo was black and white. The background was entirely black. In most cases, I will exercise my artistic license to edit things out. Busy backgrounds will detract from the animal, the star of the show.

Project Preparation

I prepare my paper next. Normally, after I cut the paper to the desired size, I will usually mask off the border with blue low-tack, acid-free artist’s tape. This keeps the border clean and also allows me to get a nice crisp edge on the drawing.

This tape is low-tack enough that it can be put on paper and removed without peeling the surface of the paper. It’s also acid-free, which will not cause the paper to age or yellow down the line.

This particular image didn’t require a white border, so the tape step wasn’t…



Myra Naito

Freelance copywriter who is passionate about art and fitness. Check out my art blog at mnatiodesigns.com/blog/ or follow me @mnaito_fineart .