Last month, I painted my first cat, Spike, as a Christmas commission for a man at work.
Spike is a big black and white cat with very long fluffy fur.
I hope you enjoy this guide!
You will need:
- Paint:I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Copper, Sap Green, Lemon Yellow…
- A variety of paintbrushes: Big flat brush ones, and little rounded ones for detail.
- Masking tape
- Play mat
- Cocktail sticks
- Photographs: a main one and secondary ones to give you different areas of detail.
- Canvas: I used 30cm x 40cm
- Grid up and draw out your canvas. You can see a guide how to do this here.
The trick is to get your drawing at exactly the same point in the grid as the photograph.
It is honestly easier than it seems!
- Start blocking in your background, With this painting, I painted a garden background, similar to the jungle background I painted here.
I initially did plain dark colours and then painted leaf shapes on top.
One side of the photograph was lighter with more yellowy greens, the other darker with purpley greens.
The darker side (left hand side) was surprisingly easy, all I needed to do was paint star shapes on a dark background in purples and dark greens, and they looked like ivy leaves.
- Paint in the post. For this, your masking tape will come in handy to get really clean lines and angles.
Concentrate on areas of light and dark, going up to almost white for the flat of the post, and to burnt umbers and black in the shadows.
- Start on the tail. I initially painted the dark area black before adding reds, browns and pale colours into it, creating layer upon layer of paint to make the hair really realistic.
I then created thin white hairs over the dark areas to create the effect of the tail being caught by the light.
- Extend the pale area of the tail up; mix greys and creams and continue to use thick layers of paint, and your cocktail stick to create individual hairs.
- Start on the dark patch on the back. Paint in the patch in black using a big brush before adding detail – this ensures that no part of the canvas will remain unpainted.
If you look closely at the photograph, there were lots of red shades in this patch, which show that it is sitting in direct sunlight.
Use burnt sienna mixed with extra red to achieve a variety of warm browns.
Then pick out individual hairs in white paint again to show glints of sun.
- Paint the face near black using a big brush, leaving a white stripe up the nose. Weave in different dark shades using a little rounded brush, and create pale tufty ear hairs using your cocktail stick.
The cat also had a little fluffy black beard, which I had to really refer to the photograph to get in exactly the right place and at the right angle – pet owners will always know! I then painted in the cats upper lip, where the whiskers grow from, using a pale grey with lines of white dots for the whiskers roots.
- Create block areas of white, cream and grey on the upper chest, then weave together using a small rounded brush and long brushstrokes. I then mixed in a bit of purple paint to make the areas of shadow more real and deep. Make the hairs fan outwards to make it look really fluffy.
- Extend the cream, white and grey fluffy hairs down the cats tummy. I also mixed in browns, as it was darker, soft fluffy hair which angled downwards towards the paws.
- Paint in the paws. They are predominantly pale, with very short hair. Create the pads with shades of browns and purple, blending the shadow into the paw using a little rounded brush.
- Paint in the eyes. These are so important to get right because they are such distinguishing characteristics. The cat had big green eyes, so I painted in the colour, then lined the eyes in black paint. As the cat was outside, its pupils were thin slits, so a small brush and a steady hand was needed. Finally a little white glint in each eye.
- For the nose, use pink, flesh tint and a bit of brown paint to create a little triangle. Put in two round nostrils, then flick this to the outside to line the nose.
- Finally put in long white whiskers, coming out of the eyebrows and the face. You can even use masking tape to make these lines cleaner.
Ta Da!! Stay tuned for part 2 of my how to guides, Rosie the terrier 🙂