Today’s critique comes from artist Alfio Raciti. You can view more of Alfio’s beautiful work at There is so much to love about this piece! The soft and dark background contrasts very nicely with the tigers making them really stand out. I love the paws and positioning of the legs on the adult tiger. Very nicely drawn!! The movement of the stripes is wonderful as well!

Taking a look at a few things we can adjust to improve on this even more, first let’s look at the drawing itself. While I don’t have your reference photo, I can tell most of this is very accurate, especially the adult tiger. There are a few areas that are off, like her eyes, so make sure you watch out for that. The baby tiger is having a few more issues. The back leg is sort of floating in the air, his head seems out of proportion to the rest of the body, especially the front legs, and his front right paw is cut off completely. These are things you want to make sure are perfect before you start in with the colored pencil because once you start shading, you can’t easily fix areas that are off.

For that front paw that is missing, I realize sometimes we find a reference photo we want to use and you can’t see portions of the body. You have a few options when this happens. One, find a reference photo of a subject in a similar position and use the paw from that one for yours. The second would be to raise that area of rock more so it’s clear that the rock sticks out in that spot covering the paw. Right now the rock doesn’t appear to be raised high enough to cover a paw. Another option would be to introduce grass/moss/plants, something around the rock and have part of that element covering the paw, much like you have on the mom’s extended hind paw.


My next tip is on the colors of the two tigers. Right now the baby is lost in the mom, if you can adjust the values of the two just a bit, darken the mom’s back, it will make the baby stand out much better.

Moving onto the colors, right now everything is very muted, very safe. If you really want to grab the viewer’s attention, don’t be afraid to hype up that contrast and color saturation. Nothing is changed on the drawing itself in the two samples above, but if these were hanging in the same gallery, the one with the more bold colors is going to get more people to stop and look than the more muted tones.

When drawing a subject that has a lot of white, remember that white is almost never white. Save the bright whites for your highlights. In my photoshop sample above, notice how I used a muted purple color to shade the white leaving just a few highlights of white showing through. This will help your work to have more depth than having everything the same value.

One of the most common questions I get is “what color do I use for *fill in the blank*”. The thing is, no matter what it is you’re doing, there isn’t just one right color. There are LOTS of colors that should be used to shade things realistically. Whether that be tiger fur, people skin, or white flowers. For the tiger, you do have some variation of values, but hype that up! You can even pull some magenta into the orange to brighten the colors up.

I like the layout you have for this, but I would extend the background up a bit. The mother tigers ears are just barely hitting the edge of the scene which draws the viewer off the page. If you can extend the background upwards just a bit, that will fix that problem.

There is a white patch on the mom’s belly that is completely drawing attention away from the baby tiger. If you can cast this area into deeper shadow it will help keep the viewer’s eye from being drawn right to thtat spot.

Looking at the cracks in the rock, that rock is very pale. When you paint in contrast as strong as you have for the cracks, it draws attention to that area. If you can tone town those cracks it will not only make the rock look more realistic, but help keep the viewer’s eye from being drawn to that area.

My last tip is on the medium used. You used Derwent Artist’s colored pencils on this except for the whiskers that you painted with white acrylic. Now if you are going to keep this drawing and not sell it, just make prints for example…then that is fine. The problem is that the acrylic paint is not going to be archival on top of wax or oil based colored pencils. An alternative to paint white whiskers and still have the results be archival would be to use touch up texture mixed with Colored Pencil Titanium White from Brush and Pencil. That is intended for colored pencils and will be archival.