If you want to draw realistic felines, I’ve made a couple of handy diagrams for you! Keep in mind that these drawings have been intentionally simplified to make them more useful as artistic references—if you’re looking for veterinary-level accuracy, I suggest you use a professional anatomy atlas instead.


Although bones are mostly hidden from view, understanding their location and shape will help you understand the location and shape of the muscles attached to them. You don’t have to memorize their Latin names—just make sure you know how these bones relate to your own.

lion skeleton simplified
lion skeleton with labels

Muscles, Layer 1

Muscles often overlap each other, so let’s divide them into two separate layers, to analyze them individually. Some of the muscles pictured here are completely covered, but soon you’ll see that they actually affect the outer form of the body.

lion deep muscles

Don’t let these names intimidate you—you don’t have to remember them, but they will be useful if you ever want to learn more abut the specific muscle.

lion deep muscles with labels

Muscles, Layer 2

These muscles lie more on top, covering the ones from the previous layer.

lion surface muscles
lion surface muscles with labels

All Muscles + Virtual Dissection

Now you can take a look at how all the muscles look together. I’ve also added the veins to this diagram—they’re often visible on the surface and can be easily confused with an edge of a muscle.

lion muscles diagram

Here you can perform a virtual dissection of a lion! Notice how the form of the muscles affects the final form of the body, and how shading accentuates it.

Can you see how the deeper muscles are visible on the surface? That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to both layers of muscles—if you only use one, complete diagram, you won’t be able to create this effect.

If You’re seriously interested in animal anatomy, here you can find the resources I’ve been using in my studies:

Also, you may also be interested in my animal anatomy course—over 4 hours of narrated video, with exercises, references sheets, and feedback from me!

If you have any questions about these diagrams, or animal anatomy in general, please leave a comment—I’ll be happy to help!