Curiosity Killed the Cat | Step by Step

February 05, 2021 3 min read

Curiosity killed the cat design

Curiosity Killed the Cat Step by Step

Hey! welcome to my first step by step guide. I wanted to just create a small guide on the steps I take to create one of my works.


What tools do I use.

  • Wacom studio Pro - a tablet does make drawing a million times easier.
  • Adobe Photoshop - I personally have always used photoshop, as a graphic designer I use the whole Adobe suite. I know there are a lot of other alternatives out there that have the same abilities.
  • True Grit - Rust Nib Photoshop Brushes - Again brushes don't make a huge difference and there are so many out there but this set I personally love to use. In this illustration I've used the Distressed Brush Pen. You do have to pay for these brushes but if you are interested you can find them Here.

Step One - Sketch

First you need a rough sketch. Look at photo references get an idea of poses and be rough! don't perfect at this stage and don't worry if it looks really messy. This is also not an anatomically correct cat or skeleton - just having fun with it!

cat sketch

Step Two - Line Work

Once you have your sketch on a separate layer just reduce the opacity and create a new layer to then create the smoother line work. I always add a bit of smoothing to my brush just to perfect those lines.

line work cat one

Step Three - block base colour

Now that I have my line work I want to create a base fill colour. I use the magic tool to select all the white space around my drawing - select inverse - then on a new layer fill that selection with a base colour. It doesn't matter what colour that is.

Step Four - Creating Base colour for each element

Now that I have that base fill I create a layer above that and when pressing alt click between the base and the new layer above it will apply that layer just to that fill shape. This makes it easy to keep within your line work. And with that I create a layer for each element and use a solid round brush to fill in each area.

Step Five - Background and colour adjustments

One thing you will notice is I change my mind about colours and some design elements through out this whole process. Since I have all my layers separate its easy to adjust with Levels or Hue and saturation.

background colour cat

Step Six - Shadows

It's looking pretty flat at the moment so the best way to fix that is colour and shadows. As mentioned at the start I've been using a Distressed Brush and I decided to use that to place some shadows down. Using the same colour I used for the line work but a bit larger - I decreased the opacity and placed down the shadows. Note: since the layer is still alt clicked to apply to the base fill it's easy to place the shadows down that don't go over the lines.

Step Seven - Add more colour!!

I decided the colours are way to flat so I selected my base cat fill (control click) and on a new layer applied a gradient. I also thought a circle in the background might anchor the image a bit more (spoiler alert! I did end up deleting it!)

Step Eight - Flourishes!!

I love adding a little bit of swirls - it adds motion and direction. And I just like it! I place down the base colour then another layer using a white colour to highlight sections.

Step Nine - Changing my mind on colours...again

So I realise I didn't like the orange light bulb - thought It'll be better as more light blue/purple. The circle wasn't working for me - the layout was just too long and it didn't fit. I also wanted the background to be darker to contrast more with the cat.

Step Ten - Final details and text

I'm keeping this one pretty simple, I could spend hours & hours on these drawings going back and forward and adding a lot of details. I just wanted to use this as an example of the steps I go through and the set up of the file.


Ask away! This isn't the most detailed step by step so please feel free to ask any questions.

Thanks for reading!


Want to check out my other designs? visit my main page.
I love cats design

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