5 Sets of Cat Reference Photos for Digital Artists

5 Sets of Cat Reference Photos for Digital Artists

Whether it’s a full-on painting of their furry fellow lounging on a windowsill, an imaginary leopard ready to pounce, or just a quirky pair of ears on a fantasy NPC, cats are some of the most incredible subjects in the animal kingdom.

They also pose some extraordinary challenges for digital artists. First, they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns, and personality types. Then there are technical challenges of capturing life-like fur and accurate physiology. Finally, cats have highly stylized, slinky, and seductive movements that can be harder to capture than the most fleet-footed mouse in the house. 

The good news is, because cats are such a popular subject, there are a ton of excellent reference photos out there to help you render any expression or pose your digital kitten might need. Here are 5 of our best cat reference photos that will get you started on the road to purr-fecting all your feline pics.

1. 182 Photos of Tigers

Tigers represent one of the greatest challenges in the entire Felidae family. Not only does this king of the jungle hunters have iconic stripes that require precision execution, ferocious teeth to sketch, and menacing claws that can make any digital artist shudder, but they also retain all of the extraordinary individualization and personality traits of their domesticated brethren. 

If you’re going to add a tiger to your portfolio, you’re going to need to see one in an array of situations, profiles, and poses, and this pack of 182 tiger reference photos is the perfect starting point for any project. It includes both close-up and movement sequences in 6000x4000 resolution so you can capture every detail in your artwork. 

2. Cats & Dogs—PNG Photo Pack

If you’re making housepets a fixture in your sketches, this pack will cover both Man’s Best Friend and his wiggling toes’ worst enemy. These royalty-free images capture both cats and dogs in a variety of resting and action poses, and they’re easy to shuffle through because they’re all tagged, cropped, and ready to drag and drop. 

All the stills are shot in neutral lighting with noise reduction filters and natural coloration, which makes them perfect for projects like concept art, matte painting, and photobashing. And if you’re not sure it’s right for your portfolio, creator Nomad Photo R. has this free sample bundle that includes some of their cat content!

This pack features:

  • 155 photos in PNG format with transparent backgrounds 
  • Min. resolution: 430x859 px
  • Max. resolution: 4812x1582 px

3. Cat in the Garden

This simple hi-res image of a cat in the garden encapsulates that hard-to-grasp Mona Lisa quality of their moment-to-moment emotions. Its body says “relaxed”, its eyes say “serious”, and its ears look like it’s had enough of your presence as it chills in the serenity of the backyard. And like a Da Vinci, this cat reference photo is gorgeously detailed and gives you a perfect pose for a variety of projects. 

4. Catwoman Reference Photos 600+

No cat reference photos list would be complete without Batman’s nemesis/crush, and this reference collection gives you over 600 pics of the superheroine to work from when you’re drafting your next Gotham City epic. 

Clad in sexy stockings and iconic black leather, this model showcases all the sizzling feline action poses Selena Kyle might need to seduce and stab her way both into and out of trouble. With these shots as a reference, you’ll have no trouble bringing out the thievish personality in your next Marvel-inspired pet project. 

5. Ham Cat Timelapse + Model

Yes: it’s exactly what you think it is. No: we don’t know why, but it hardly matters. Ham Cat is amazing, and this timelapse ZBrush model is a classic example of the incredible work that our Cubebrush creators bring to the table. 

This pork leg feline mashup Pablo Garcia G. put together for Sculptjanuary a few years back is just one of the thousands of unique concepts you can find on Cubebrush Marketplace. It’s a remarkably versatile and inspiring place where you can share, market, and sell your work, as well as connect with kindred spirits across any genre you can imagine. 

If you’re into Ham Cat, this 3D timelapse reference can be the spark that sets your cat/pig creativity alight. And if you’re just into either ham or cats, visit Cubebrush Marketplace and start exploring!

Find Out What’s Paw-sible with Cubebrush 

From sketching realistic fur to capturing the gleam in their slitty eyes, cats will always pose a challenge for digital artists. The more time you can spend observing them the better your creations will be, and Cubebrush has a wide range of reference pics, digital assets, brushes, and tutorials that will fill your digital kitties with feline energy from the tip of their whiskers to the tails. 

Visit Cubebrush Marketplace today to find all of these cat reference photos and more!