How to Draw a Growling Lion

When drawing a head of a big cat in profile, the process of creating the base would be slightly different. The cross reference lines on a sphere may not be as useful as drawing a head facing the front, but we also need it to know where to begin.

  • Make a somewhat shoe-shaped angular cone extension from the base. Remember that different big cats have different head profiles. In this case, a lion’s muzzle is thick, combined with a very muscular prominent jaw.

  • The extension of the base should be at least more than half of the thickness of the sphere, extending from above and below.
  • Use the cross reference mark to identify the center of the sphere, and use that to level the eyes from the muzzle accordingly.
  • In this case, the exposed ear would appear larger because it is closer in view. And still, it is diagonally aligned with the eye (in this case, with the nose as well).
  • Like before, the mouth opening would start from the lower edge of the muzzle’s base, and extending downwards with the lower jaw’s outline connected to the sphere.

  • Once all the features are set in place, define it properly and add more details (such as the brow line and the ripples of a stretched mouth.

  • Proceed to the inking process when you are satisfied with your sketch.

  • Erase the pencil marks and begin applying the mid tone. The cheek and a portion of the front of the muzzle should appear brighter.

  • The thick skin of a lion would naturally create ripples when stretched in such a manner, this would also create a different detail in shading. Darken these small sections and apply a mid-lighter tone to the ripples.

Keep on elaborating the gradation as you apply the brighter and darker tones accordingly. 

  • The nose, the eyelids and the inner portions of the mouth would have the darkest tones.

  • The lining on the portion of the cheek, the front of the muzzle, and a portion of the forehead would have brighter tones.

  • Convey a texture by applying a faint grainy layer of shading to the skin. This could be easily done by a cotton if you are drawing traditionally, or a certain kind of brush for those working digitally.

  • Cast the shadows. The inner section of the mouth, the recessed area of the eyes and the farther areas of the face should have a faint dark shading on them.

Work on the mane of the lion. This could be quite a tiresome process and should be done properly. Do not simply fill the areas with short and long strokes in any direction.

Follow the layers of the fur and make all the thin line strokes flow with it. The ends of the each layers would create a couple of spikes.

  • Keep on thickening the mane. Cast shadows on each next layer that is overlapped by the spikes.

  • Finally, apply a final layer of shade including on the mane, and make some finishing retouches.

This is one of the examples included in the book "How to Draw Big Cats for Absolute Beginners" 

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