How to Draw a Cheetah

Cheetahs are the smallest of Africa’s big cats – weighing between 70 and 150 pounds – but their claim to fame is not in their size, but in their speed. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animal, having been clocked at speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour.

Cheetahs have played a role in human culture for millennia. Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian artwork depict tamed cheetahs on leashes. Cheetahs were a favorite palace pet for Egyptian royalty, and they were also used for hunting. This tradition continued in Asia and the Middle East, with hunting cheetahs being trained to ride horses behind their human counterparts.

The depiction of cheetahs in artwork continued in medieval and renaissance Europe. For example, a painting of Greek deities from the 1500’s employs a pair of cheetahs in pulling a chariot. In modern popular culture, cartoon cheetahs have made appearances in films such as The Lion King (1994). Perhaps the most famous cartoon cheetah is Chester Cheetah, the mascot for Cheetos brand snack foods.

Would you like to draw your own sprinting cheetah? Doing so is easy with this simple, step-by-step drawing tutorial. You will need only a pencil and a piece of paper. In each step, add the highlighted blue lines shown in the accompanying illustrations. Lines drawn in previous steps are shown in black.

You may wish to use an eraser to remove guide lines and correct mistakes. Colored pencils, crayons, markers, or paints can be used to shade your finished drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Cartoon Gorilla, Deer, and Bat.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Cheetah

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 1

Begin by drawing a small circle to outline the cheetah’s head.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 2

Extend a series of curved lines from the head to outline the brow, snout, and jaw. Note the curve of the brow line, protrusion of the nose, and squared lines of the mouth.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 3

Extend a pair of curved lines from the head, outlining the neck.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 4

Erase the guide lines left from the original circle.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 5

Draw the ear using two curved lines that meet in a point. Detail the inside of the ear using a series of short, curved lines.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 6

From the lines of the neck, extend two more long, curved lines, outlining the back, hips, and stomach.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 7

Draw the front leg using two curved lines, overlapping the lines of the neck and stomach.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 8

Enclose the bottom of the leg using two curved lines. Note how the lines overlap at the foot, indicating the cleft of the toes.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 9

Draw the far foreleg, beginning with a curved line from the neck to the previous foreleg. Then, draw the lower part of the leg using two curved lines, overlapping to form the toes.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 10

Extend two curved lines from the hips and stomach, outlining the rear leg.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 11

Extend the lines of the leg and enclose the foot, allowing the lines to overlap and form the toes.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 12

Draw the far rear leg by extending two curved lines from beneath the previous leg. Allow the lines to overlap at the tip of the foot, forming the toes.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 13

From the rump, extend a long, curved line. The line will double back on itself, enclosing the tail.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 14

Draw a curved line along the brow. Beneath it, draw a shorter, slightly curved line to form the top of the eye. Enclose the eye below using a curved line. Draw another curve within the eye, and shade the enclosed shape. Enclose the nose at the tip of the snout using a short, curved line.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 15

Draw dots just above the mouth, and extend curved lines from them. These are the cheetah’s whiskers.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 16

Detail the face with curved lines on the top of the head, and irregular dots throughout. These represent the cheetah’s spots.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 17

Continue drawing spots along the body and forelegs. Some of the spots can be dots, others spirals, and still others a dot surrounded by a spiral. These represent a type of spot called a rosette.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 18

Draw spots and rosettes along the rear legs. Cheetahs typically have up to 2,000 spots.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 19

Draw spots and rosettes along the tail, and give the tail two broad stripes at the tip.

How to Draw Cheetah: Step 20

Color your cheetah. Cheetahs are typically a sandy color, which, along with their spots, helps them to be camouflaged when hunting and blend in with the tall grass.

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