Tips for Drawing Realistic Fur and Where to Start | Top Tips

Dec 30, 2022
Tips for Drawing Realistic Fur and Where to Start | Top Tips | Bonny Snowdon Academy

Many people struggle with where to start when drawing realistic fur in coloured pencil, but I have a technique that is not only successful for me but also for my students, as it helps to keep your confidence up from start to finish.


Different Techniques

When drawing animals in coloured pencil, some people lay a solid colour down first and add the texture after, and some people work over the entire subject adding layer after layer. I prefer to think about the texture of what I'm drawing first and try to get the first layer to represent the fur patterns I want to create. This is incredibly helpful because it enables you to see what the texture is going to look like straight away and it gives you an idea of structure, which helps you to envision what it is that you're trying to do. I would never say one method is better than another, only that one method may work better for you.

I know that coloured pencil is a slow medium and, during the process, we tend to go through ugly stages. Trying to keep those ugly stages to a minimum is incredibly useful, not only for your ego but also for your confidence. If we see things taking shape and they look correct and lovely, then that is going to do wonders for our confidence.

My process will change depending on the surface I am using, but my technique for adding my first layers of fur stays the same. I tend to sketch in my first few layers, which allows me to get an idea of the fur texture and quality. If I’m drawing wavy fur, it's good to add in an idea of those waves. If it's short fur, then getting an idea of the change in direction is really helpful because it shows the form and structure of the animal underneath and looks quite pretty, and our ego loves “quite pretty”!


Understanding The Process

I start by laying down some of the darker colours, being quite sketchy as I do this, to give an idea of the shape, texture and lighting. Using really light pressure, I carefully add the direction of the fur, so that my initial layer gives me the structure right from the beginning. I try to keep my fur lines consistent with the animal I'm drawing, with short strokes for short fur and longer ones for longer fur. I will then add different colours, still sketching very lightly onto the paper in the direction of the fur. These pencil marks form the basis of the fur and will show through the layers as you add more. You need to remember, animal fur isn't all one colour, it's got all sorts of different colours, values and shades coming through. Once you have got the layers in, then you can add the smaller details.

This technique works for any kind of fur. It allows you to get all of those important values in very early on and gives you a lovely rich base to work any further details in.


To watch me put this process into practice, click on the video at the top of this page.

If you like the look of the piece I’m drawing, it’s available as a full tutorial in the Academy membership, and I take you step-by-step through the whole piece. If you haven’t already, sign up to the Academy waitlist before the doors open in January by clicking here.


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