1. Quickly sketch an outline of about how you want the paw the be formed. This means... determine its pose!^^ You can also start with simple lines instead of drawing the outline to determine its pose and create something dynamic.
2. Draw the claws. I like to start with the claws at once, because they can give the paw a whole new expression depending on how they are drawn (Where they "point").
3. Mark the "toes/fingers", and perhaps some muscles... You can go detailed if you wish to!
4. Add the dew claw! NOTE: Hind-/backlegs have not normally got dew claws.
5. Add the paw pads. Depending on the dynamic, the paw pads can be visible or not visible when the paw is standing on the ground. As you can see, I drew them visible. ^^
6. Lower the opacity of the layer of the sketch, but it has to be comfortably visible.
7. I created a new layer OVER the sketch, and began drawing the lineart. It´s important that the lineart has to be clean and accurate.
8. The sketch is either hidden or deleted, and we got the lineart alone.
9. On a layer UNDER the lineart, we can give our new paw a flat color.
10. Either if you want to draw a natural animal with natural colors, create your own unique character, or want to draw a specific character, begin vary the paw with some different colors. : )
11. Many would call this shading, but I don´t. I would say this is making the paw look more "3D", or texturizing some fur. This is very primary! I chose a blue-purple color on a new layer, set on "Multiply". On quite low opacity, but the choice of color or opacity all depends on you and what you think looks best and right for the mood of your artwork.
There are many ways to shade, and these are only three examples, out of billions.
12 a).The light source is coming from the left. On a new layer on "multiply", I drew the shadows themselves on the paw.
12 c). Here, I deleted the lineart and painted the shadows instead. Lineless painting is something different from drawing.
Yep! Hope it was helpful somehow. Hm, this was supposed to only be a paw tutorial, but it ended up explaining more factors... like use of colors. Remember, this is only SOME ways to do things. If you experiment, you will find your own way to do things. Go with what that gives results, and which feels comfortable for you. The boxes to the left are important to read as well. Good luck, and thanks so much.