How to paint a cat’s eye in watercolour

There’s a saying that ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’.

I think this is perhaps most true of cats. 

All it takes is for something to catch their attention, and we watch them switch from a domestic pet to a wonderful, wild predator in our home.

In just the flicker of an eye.

It’s one of the things cat lovers can find so awe inspiring about our feline friends.

So when we’re painting a cat portrait, it’s key to get their mesmerising eyes looking just right. 

We want to show how bright and reflective their eyes are, and convey a sense of the wildness behind them.

But achieving that can be quite challenging.

So I wanted to show you in this class how I painted the bright, shiny eyes in the cat painting which I shared the process for in this video.

This class is longer than most of the mini classes I share with you. It’s an entire Short tutorial from my online School, and you can paint along with me in real time.

As you’ll see, I worked much larger than life for this painting, and I recommend doing the same to help capture all the details and little shapes of colour. 

When we look at the subject not as one eye, but as lots of smaller shapes, we can achieve a highly realistic result with a shiny, 3D effect. 

And we can capture a glimmer of that elusive, feline mystery.

Starting with an accurate outline will help you do this, so take your time over the drawing; it’ll save time later in the painting process.

To help you achieve a good level of detail and accuracy in your drawing, I’m providing you with this printable PDF, which you can trace from.

Usually these PDFs are exclusively for my School members, but for this mini class I wanted to make an exception, as getting the drawing right is super important for this painting.

I hope this mini class has inspired you to paint a cat’s eye. 

Painting eyes that look realistic is a great skill to develop if you like creating animal portraits, and would be helpful prep for if you’re planning to have a go at the full cat painting

If you try it, I’d love to hear how you get on, so let me know in the comments below. And do leave me a message if you enjoyed the video. I love to read them!

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  1. Neha sethi on January 18, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you so much for this free mini class 🙏

  2. Lynn on January 18, 2022 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you Anna for sharing your outstanding talent with everyone. It’s so calming to listen to you and your easy to understand instructions. All of your paintings are just outstanding. ♥

  3. Erika Pinczés on January 18, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    Thank you very much!

  4. Susan Merila on January 18, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    Your videos can take anyone w h o wants to improve to the next level.
    I recommend your on-line school to everyone who participates in one of my PocketSketching workshops.

  5. Sandyhosey on January 18, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Anna is it possible toapply your instructions using acrylics or oils Sandy Hosey

  6. Donna on January 19, 2022 at 3:11 am

    Thank you Anna ❤️ You make it look so easy! I admire your talent and teaching ability.

  7. Barbara on January 20, 2022 at 11:53 pm

    Beautiful work. I love painting cats but not good at it yet! I have two Ragdoll cats with blue eyes.

  8. Janice P Tortoriello on January 21, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Thank you so much for the free mini lesson it was wonderful!

    I am going to try painting this; however, I will be magnetizing the eye at least 5x. In addition, I will also be using a magnet. As you were painting, I was looking at the detail in the eye (which I had looked previously), I was stunned at the amount of detail, I would never have attempted it on such a small scale. You on the other hand have done a fabulous job.

    Thanks again,

  9. Ellen on February 6, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you so much. I´ ve been working on eyes and never tried watercolor on this subject. Truly appreciated.

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