Feb 22, 2018

How to Draw/Paint Fur that is Soft and Fluffy - Painting & Drawing Tips


Reference pictures ready
Paints/pencils ready
Pet Portrait started . . . .

Feeling good!

Then . . . Finished . . .but not happy!
HANNAH - Commission
Is this what happens when you work on animals.  They are well drawn with good proportions but they just don't have that soft, bouncy look to their fur.  There is no life to their body.

This was my struggle as well.  I could render the shape with no problem but getting that fluffy fur was the challenge.  I studied pictures and  read books and worked on picture after picture before I found a solution.  Here are my discoveries.

How to Draw/Paint Soft, Fluffy Fur

1.  It's all about the Value
The old adage "Color gets all the credit, while value does all the work" is certainly true with fur.  
HANNAH - note the number of  different values in this small section 
Whether you are using colour or gray-scales you need lots of different values to give your fur depth.  In this small section of Hannah's ear note the range of values. And remember Hannah is not a black dog.  She is a light coloured dog.
Notice the range of values from White to Middle Grey.
Despite the fact that she is a light coloured dog there is a wide section of values from the White to Middle Grey area in her ear.  Notice too that because of the lighting on her there really isn't any "White".  Everything has some value.  I think in terms of 1 being White so there can be a 1.2 or a 1.5 or even a 1.9.  Each of these values has some grey tone but are still less than the Value 2.  When working on my fur I try and get as many different values as I can. 

2.  Edges are Always Important
As many of you have read in my earlier post, Edges tell Stories. (Read more here)  
SHERLOCK - Commission - Short hair and very sleek
SHERLOCK is a short hair dachshund.  Notice how the edges tell his story. When you look at Sherlock, you are thinking dog and fur.  When you see the smooth edge you know what that fur is like: short, and sleek.
HANNAH - Close up of her foot.  
This close up of Hannah shows how her Edges tell a different story.  The bits of fur flowing into the ground cover give a sense of fluffy, flowing fur.  Once again the viewer is seeing a dog and the edges support the expectation of long, flowing fur.  

LOOKING BACK - Watercolour, Matted 8 x 10 - $130
Looking Back shows how fluffy fur looks using colour.  Notice the number of values in the white part of Alvin's fur.  Only a small part is actually white.  The rest has some degree of value.  But also the Edges are doing their job as well.  They support the notion that this is a soft fluffy cat with medium length hair.
What are some of your secrets to get that hair fluffy?  Do you find it harder with light coloured animals verses dark ones?  
Special thanks to Donna and May for inspiriting this post.  

Next post, Painting Soft and Fluffy Birds and Animals Part 2.  

Opportunities Happening now: 

Drop-In & Draw Sessions: 
Tuesdays: Mar 6 & 20,   Mondays: April 2, 16 & 30- 10-12pm or 1-3pm
Expressions Art Gallery, 227 & Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge.  
Choose a morning or afternoon session. Bring your sketchbook or your project and come draw.  I will be happy to give you a few pointers as you work on a drawing.  $15 Pre-Register Required. Contact Wendy Here

Good Follow-Up Session to the Marketing Workshop: 
April 9 - Building Your Online Presence with Wendy Mould, AFCA 6-8pm. Federation Gallery, Vancouver, BC. $20 nonmembers $15 members.

Looking for more Drawing Tips, check out these popular posts from the latest Drawing Series.  
How to Find Your Starting Point in a Drawing - here
4 Ways to Grow the Sketchbook Habit - here
Get Those Values Working for you - here

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 Have a great artful day,


Sea Dean said...

Thank you Wendy, your information is always so helpful. Annah is the twin of a friends’ doggie that I painted a few years ago. With your permission I will link to your blog next time I do a pet blog. Sea Dean

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

Thank you Sea. Yes, go ahead and link to my blog. I appreciate the connection.