Tips for Drawing White Fur in Coloured Pencil | Top TipsDec 16, 2022
Drawing white fur on white paper can seem really challenging, and it can be, but I have some useful techniques to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of believing white fur is white, and make sure you end up with some super pieces of artwork.
White Fur isn’t Really White:
Our brains are incredibly complicated and work out amazing things every second of our lives, yet when given white fur to draw, or paint, we struggle to see value and colour and tend to see just white. You'll hear artists saying countless times white fur isn't white and they're right, it's not. White fur reflects the colours of the environment around the animal. Not only are there a multitude of colours in white fur, there are also shadows, mid-tones and highlights, and what will make your white animal stand out is if you use a range of values to help shape the subject so you can see the structure under the fur.
Many people opt for using a toned or black background for white subjects as they see it as easier, and of course, the white pencil stands out straight away, but this can have a counter-effect as the dominant colour used will be white. Drawing white on white is challenging, but it enables you to make choices about what colours and values you want to use.
Tips on How to Determine Your Colours and Values:
I use Photoshop to create a viewfinder by drawing a white box over my image with a cut-out circle in the middle. You can do the same with a white piece of paper and a hole punch if you don't want to do it digitally. You can then move the viewfinder over your reference photo and use it to help you spot all the different colours. Our brain has a mechanism where if it's white fur, we see it as white which is frustrating because that isn't the case.
Using a little viewfinder is a really useful way of isolating small areas of colour and value, and it can give you an idea of what you can use in your drawing when planning your colours for drawing white fur. I find it best to first determine the balance of warm and cool hues, and I like to mix my greys. It's inevitable that you will have a combination of warm and cool colours.
You wouldn't expect to be using a Walnut Brown or a Dark Sepia within your white fur, but actually, when you look closely at some of the dark areas, and you isolate those colours and the values from the rest of the picture, you can see just how dark it is. It's always a bit scary when you lay the really dark colours down, as it can seem too dark, but trust the process and it will all work out beautifully in the end. You may find that you need to add a few layers to get the depth of the values in. I like to start nice and gently as it feels better that way, and it's a little less scary.
To see me showing you how to create and use the viewfinder to determine your colours and values, click on the video at the top of this page.
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