How to Paint Fur



 I use Fabriano Uno 140 lb cold press to paint on. I sketch the dog on the paper and decide which of the fur will be smooth. In this case, the face itself is smooth.

To paint fur that is smooth I first wet the paper where the lightest color will go.

I apply the color with the paper slightly tipped up so it will run down into the wet areas. I do this fairly wet. I start applying the color at the darkest spot which in this case was at the top of the face. I do not try to copy the colors or placement exactly unless it is a portrait.

I used burnt sienna and quinacridone gold.


 I allowed the first step to dry thoroughly and then applied the next darkest color. This was done wet in wet too even though it will be rougher textured hair because I will go into these areas with darker paint for details.

This is still burnt sienna and quin gold.

 I have added the pinkish color in the ears. Not sure what color this is as I used what was on my pallette. I applied the pink at the top of the area on dry paper and then added a bit of water underneath and let the color move down on it's own.


 I am starting to put in the darker areas now. I like to put down a dark blue underlay and then I will go over it with a mixed black. This will allow for the illusion that there is shine in the black.

This is applied on dry paper with a smaller brush. The dark at the bottom of the inside of the ear has water added to the top to allow the paint to move up on it's own.

I added a bit of grey on the chest along with a bit of the sienna mix. I put blue grey over the nose and up the front of the face as that is going to be a white fur area. This gives it some substance. I added a bit of pink alongside the grey on the right side of the nose that will be the area under the whiskers that is usually pink if the fur is white.

I have now added the dark fur that will be on each side of his head. I stroked some of it into the tan color to sumulate shaggie fur.

 I have added some more intense sienna mixture now.

Here I have started the eyes. I am one of the few people who prefer to do the eyes last. Here I have mixed a bit of the same colors to make a golden orange color and painted in the eyes. Next I painted in the nose and mouth.

 I added a bit more of the pale quin gold with a teensy bit of pnk added to the ears.

 At this point I mixed some dark color to use for the black. I used red, blue and dark green that was on my pallette. On the rougher fur I paint on dry paper and then soften some of the edges with a damp brush.
I have gone over all the areas that have dark hair leaving some of the blue undercoating showing through. I added a bit to the inside bottom of the ears on dry paper and then wet my brush and wiped off the excess water and applied it to the top area of the dark to let it blend on its own upward into the middle of the ear.


 Now I have added the same dark color that I am using for the fur over the entire eye area except for the immediate area under the eye on the one of the right. I have also added more darks to the nose and the lower lip.

Here I have lifted some of the dark color around the outside of the eyes for the iris. I like to lift the color because it gives the eye color some variation as the gold color underneath now shows through.


 Now I have added the "life" to the eyes, in other words, the highlight I don't usually place it where it shows in the photo but rather where I want the eye to be looking. In this case towards the camera.


The final step is to add shadow on the face and just refine the details. I have added a bit more dark to the lip along with some highlights. I added more dark to the nose and finished up on the dark that runs across the top of the head. I worked a bit more on the eyes and in places added a bit of opaque gouache to make the features stand out more. The highlights in the eyes are also gouache. I don't feel badly about using gouache since it is water media and to save the tiny whites is very difficult even with masking because I usually change the location of these as I go along until I get them just in the perfect place that pleases me.

In painting fur you don't have to be exact with the colors etc unless you are doing a portrait of the animal. I like to just let the colors dictate where I want to put them. In this case since this was a lesson I tried to stay relatively close to the photograph.