One of the hardest aspects when creating portraits of animals is getting the texture of fur right. I have spoken to a number of animal and wildlife artists who use a variety of techniques to get the fur on to paper. Obviously the techniques when creating a more abstract painting are different and there is more scope for using artistic license when depicting fur in this type of portrait. Here I am focusing on creating photo-realistic fur in a portrait.
The main points that need to be remembered when painting fur are the following -
The growth direction of the fur - Make sure you follow the direction of the fur growth when painting the fur. This is important whatever medium you are using but particularly important when using pencil.
The light and shadows caused by the fur - Longer fur creates more shadow underneath it. You can use light and shadow to create the shape and form of the bone structure of the animal underneath the fur.
The length of the fur - Hatching is a goof technique to use when drawing fur in pencil. Using longer curved hatching lines if you are trying to create longer fur. Longer fur tends to be more difficult due to the fact that the individual strands of fur curl and overlap each other.
As with all art you need to develop a controlled and light touch. Fur needs to be built up slowly using strokes of varying length if it is to look realistic.
If you have any tips for creating fur in art then let me know!
The Pilothouse Gallery - Pet Portraits