Monday, March 18, 2013

Painting Spotted Animal Fur

Hello, friends, and welcome to another lesson in art.

When you think of spots, what do you think?

Little circles or dots is the first thing most of us think of.
Like droplets, round and perfect.

But most animals that have colors or spots have variety in their colors...
and spots.

 Now here's a happy little fellow to demonstrate for us.

If you look at his fur from far away or at a quick glance, it's easy to think dots of black,
but if you look more closely, it would become more obvious that some are large, some small,
some are brownish and others black,
and pretty much all of them are not perfect little circles.

If you were to come up and rub his fur backward,
he wouldn't like it much, but you'd see that under his fur, his undercoat is actually mostly black,
but the white fur sits on top.

 I was working on this project for my living room,
so I thought I'd use this cow to demonstrate
(sometimes it is helpful to get a piece of art in plaster form
to practice something like fur and get to know the body structure of an animal).

I printed up a few images of real cows from the internet
and then used the colors I wanted for my own.

 I base-coated him in a bright shade of brown.

When paintbrushes get old and uneven like this,
I tend to throw them away, except this one still had plenty of soft bristles.
I knew this type of condition would be great for painting a rough splotchy look,
like for tree leaves on a faraway tree...

or animal fur.

Here you can see how the old frizzy brush works nicely to make the fur look more realistic.

I worked in the white more heavily in some places
and dabbed it on lightly in others.

 I worked on some of his other details while I let the white on his fur dry.
I definitely wanted the white to dry so that the spots would be a crisp color
and not muddied at all by the white.  Patience in art is very crucial, but one can usually find other things to work on while waiting for something to dry.

Once dried, I began adding random splotches for spots.
I used a darker brown and also a lighter brown,
and had some that got mixed.

I kept adding spots until I hoped it might be enough.

Knowing when to stop is sometimes a hard thing to know.
So many times I wish I had stopped on a project instead of being too critical of my work
and then I get frustrated because I feel like I have done too much.

 Walking away across the room and looking at your project from a distance when you feel you may be done but are not sure is a useful tip.  Sometimes you'll notice something you need to fix;
if you don't see anything that looks as if it really needs work, then stop and let it be done.

Once you have created your own spotted animal either on paper or in a project like this,
it becomes fun to notice the wide variety in the animals you meet.
Try noticing animal fur this week, in books or magazines or if you go out.
Try sketching up a dog or other animal and giving him some "spots" in his fur
and see how creating spots of variety makes him look more realistic.


  1. Gorgeous bull. I'd love to place him in my living room.

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  3. Hey, I just found this blog and I love it. These tips are so helpful, thank you! Especially the tips on drawing.


Thanks for your thoughts! If you have a question, I'll try to answer it.