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How to Paint a Cheetah in Acrylic

Last fall, I went to the zoo, and by great luck, got a nice head shot of a cheetah who was resting near where I was standing. I love big cats, and decided to paint one in this art demo where I will share how it is done.

First, I primed the canvas (it was 11 X 14 inches) with light green (sap green + ultramarine blue + titanium white), since the cheetah has a lot of red and gold tones in its coat. I then drew a quick sketch in burnt umber (I always freehand draw).

Next, I started adding yellow ochre, sienna, burnt sienna, and burnt umber along with titanium white in various proportions to rough in the main areas of the head. Because the eyes are so important to the expression, I also started on the left eye to get some detail in.

Next, I worked on other areas, laying in the coat (being careful to follow the direction of the hair with my brush strokes) and adding more detail to the other eye. My cheetah is now about 2/3 done; I will try to upload the finished painting in a few days.

Painting wildlife is a joy; I hope this helps inspire you to create a painting of your own!

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