Draw Fur on the Ears and Forehead
Back up to the first ear, draw some hairs pointing up along the edge. Draw a few sprigs of hair down the other edge too, pointing outward. Sketch a line along the inside edge to complete the flap. There is some thicker fur in front of the ear. Before drawing it, erase the outline of the head immediately in front of the ear. Then, sketch some loose lines to represent the fur.
Continue to add fur to the kitten’s forehead. Erase the outline of the head between the ears. Then in its place, sketch the furry outline of the top of the head.
Use longer vertical strokes to represent more fur on the forehead. I say “vertical” because that is how this section of hairs is growing. You should always draw fur in the direction of its growth.
Press down more in areas to create shadows. Switch back and forth between using the side of the pencil to create thicker clumps of hair and the tip for finer individual hairs.
Sketch along the first edge of the second ear with short strokes to give it a slightly hairy appearance. Do the same to the other edge.
Now, each ear has some long hairs on the inside, so return to the first ear to draw some of these long hairs along the inner edge. Then do the same with the other ear. Use long strokes with a slight curve. Vary the direction of some of the marks.
Then, sketch some fur along the lower edge of the ear. Put some shading and a rim along the ear flap’s outer edge.
Continue adding fur to the top of the kitten’s head. Shade around the lighter fur patches identified earlier. Bring the fur down to the area under the ear. Use a swooping motion to curve the hairs upward. Keep checking the reference photo to look for the direction of hair growth.
Draw Fur on the Sides of the Kitten’s Face
Put some dark shading around the kitten’s eye. Begin with the thin strip just under the lighter pattern above the eye. After that, extend the darker tones beyond the outer corner of the kitten’s eye, using mostly sideways strokes. Shade around the section of light fur that is under the eye. Along the side of the kitten’s face, sketch two streaks of fur. Then add more fur along the side of the face under the ear.
Now sketch fur on the other side of the kitten face. Again, avoid shading the area just under the eye that is meant to be lighter in color. Something I’m going to do here that I should have done on the other side too is erase the outline of the face before placing fur over it. I’ll use my kneaded eraser to softly erase the edge of both sides so I can easily fix this. Now as I sketch fur that overlaps the edges, it leaves a more pleasing look than seeing those harsh outlines underneath.
Lay some darker tones at an angle just above the nose on both sides. Next, sketch fur between the eye and the mouth area. This fur should go generally in a sideways direction but should also follow the curvature under the eye. Sketch a few darker patches near the edge of this area.
Develop the Area Under the Mouth and the Neck
Shade the nostrils. I’m sticking with the 2B pencil for now, but I will go over this and some other areas needing darker tones with a softer pencil soon enough. Trace over the outline of the nose.
Add some darker shading around the mouth area and to the inside of the mouth itself. Sketch some fur under the mouth. Like before, erase the outline before drawing the hairs along the outermost edge.
With your kneaded eraser, get rid of the outline shaping the area of the mouth that will contain the whiskers. Replace the outline with a furrier edge. Repeat this on the other side of the mouth. Use short strokes. Keep going until the entire area surrounding the whisker spots has a furry border.
Apply some tones to fill in the open area on the side of the face. Sketch lighter patches of fur around the mouth. Just like around the eyes, the mouth area has fur that is lighter in color than other parts of the face, so shade sparingly.
Begin loosely sketching some fur to signify the neck of the kitten. Although the reference photo does show more of the kitten’s body behind the head, the focus of this tutorial is on the face, head, and neck.
The fur on the sides of the neck go in the same direction as the fur on the sides of the face. Make the fur directly under the mouth area slightly darker, as well as the fur on the right side.
Add Depth to the Fur and Final Details
Darken the outline of the nose. Put some light shading on the nose as well. Look for opportunities to create contrast by putting darker tones next to lighter tones. Add darker values along the bridge between the eyes and on the forehead over the eyes. In addition, place more shading next to the eye and on the right side of the kitten’s face. Remember to shade with the hair growth. Leave some patches lighter. Put some shading on the other side of the face, along the lighter areas to make them stand out.
Keep looking at the reference photo to find places that would benefit from additional shading. Going over these previously drawn areas of fur with extra layers is helpful in building up a good thickness and texture.
Let’s put some darker tones at the base of the ear. Shading the negative space here is a great way to make the fur in front of the ear stand out.
Lighten your touch as you get to the higher parts of the ear. Add some light shading to the other ear too. Darken the fur near the corner of the eye.
Put some more dark shading on the neck under the mouth area. Sketch a few stray strands of short hair sticking out on each side of the neck. Put some very light shading on the portion of the mouth area left white in earlier steps. I’m using a mostly hatch pattern, but you can use some crosshatch marks instead if you wish.
Okay, so we’ve been using the 2B pencil throughout this entire drawing. Now, we’re going to switch to a softer 6B pencil to go over the darkest areas. Trace over the outline of each eye. Then carefully touch over the pupils. Next, shade the nostrils. After that, go over the inside of the mouth again.
Apply some darker tones on the right side of the face. Then put some shading near the base of the ear behind the fur that is sticking up. Look for other areas that need more contrast. Use a kneaded eraser to lift lighter strands of hair.
Use a sharp 2B pencil to draw whiskers on the face of the kitten. You can use the reference photo to give you guidance as to the placement, length, and direction of the various whiskers. As you draw each whisker, start at the base and draw along the path of the whisker, gradually lightening pressure on your pencil until you gently lift it off the paper to leave a tapered end.
If you want to draw more or fewer whiskers than what’s on the reference, that’s fine too! I decided to omit the whiskers on the forehead and stick with the ones around the mouth.
And that is how to draw a kitten face!