Stripes and shading.
A tiger’s black stripes give it character, definition, and shape. Stripes are another way to give tigers a sense of scale. “Tiger stripes are not only cool looking, they inform the volume of the tiger with their shape,” says House. Stripes should flow and work in concert with each other.
The stripes are also a great opportunity to add variation and visual flair to your drawing. “Having a mixture of heavier lines versus lighter lines creates a nice weight variation and keeps your eye moving,” says Elliott.
Capture that tiger personality.
Perhaps the most important aspect of drawing a tiger is the big cat’s personality. Tigers don’t just sit on rocks and pose for life drawings. They’re usually doing something. “Most of the time they’re going to be slinking around in grass or bamboo,” says House. “They’re kind of sneaky.” Adding in grass or foliage to partially obscure the tiger gives a sense of predatory menace and mystery.
If you’re drawing a cartoon tiger that’s going to express human emotions, then your tiger’s face also needs to be able to communicate those emotions. Tigers have an advantage if you want to draw an animal that talks, as their stripes and fur markings can be used like human facial features. These markings can act like eyebrows, smile lines, furrowed brows, crow’s feet, and more, allowing your cartoon animals to be expressive.
Whatever personality you give your tiger, whether it’s wild and stealthy or human-like, make it fierce. Tigers are 500-pound apex predators that, despite their size and heft, can still stalk undetected through tall grass before pouncing on prey. They do all that while looking fabulous and fearing nothing. Make that personality come through in your tiger drawing. Draw them big. Draw them bold.