How to paint a fluffy cat

Hello all,

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
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Photographs: a main one and secondary ones to give you different areas of detail.
  • Canvas: I used 30cm x 40cm

catforpeter

  1. 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!
    IMAG0671
  2. 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.
    Background
  3. 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.
    Post
  4. 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.
    Tail
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
    Back
  7. 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.
    IMAG0734
    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.
  1. 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.IMAG0736
  2. 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.
    IMAG0739
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    DSC_0152head
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
    DSC_0152 - Copywm

Ta Da!! Stay tuned for part 2 of my how to guides, Rosie the terrier 🙂

Imi x

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How to… paint in a jungle background

This should really be called a “How I…” instead of a “How to…”.
I am sure that there are many ways to successfully paint a jungle background.

However, this guide shows you how I have achieved the background
on my current project,
along with some hints and tips to achieve a really professional finish.

You will need:

  • Your marked up canvas
  • Your photograph (with gridlines drawn on)
  • Lots of colours of acrylic paint
    (Blog to come about my favourite staple colours that every art box needs.)
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes
  • A playmat!
    Before the existance of my playmat (a 2m squared wipable table cloth) I was not popular with my mum as my painting studio of choice is the lounge floor.
    Hello paint on the carpets!
  1. Masking tape along major outlines. Masking tape is a great way to contain your colour. I use it in copious amounts on nearly every painting I do.

    Here you can see I have masking taped along the logs before I paint the background

  2. Create a colour wash over the whole background. This is a thin layer of background colour which is spread across the whole background. Try holding the picture up to the light and see for the areas you can see through which need more colour.

    Here you can see I have painted in dark greens and purpley blacks around the lemur.

  3. Make sure you paint the sides of the canvas. It is a pet HATE of mine when I see beautiful paintings with scruffy sides. It completely detracts from the painting and it is just plain lazy. It takes two minutes more to paint the sides. DO IT!!

    Here you can see I am extending my colour wash around the sides of the painting.

  4. Start with the out of focus details first. Using a small round brush and referring back to your grid, sponge in splatters of varying yellows, greens browns and deep purples. My favourite to use are emerald green, raw sienna brown and burgandy.

    Here you can see the yellow and green smudges I am starting in the jungle background.

  5. Continue with the soft focus areas, using a variety of colours and shades. Don’t mind if your hands get messy or it doesn’t look perfect, this is the impressionist part.

    Here you can see I have copied the photograph using a variety of colours

  6. Use a variety of different paintbrushes… or fingers and sponges.  I always use my fingers to achieve a really smooth finish by rubbing paint into my canvas.

    Here you can see that I use my fingers to rub paint into the canvas.

  7. On areas of more detail, refer back to your grids in detail. If necessary, masking tape lines back in to make sure that leaves etc are in the right areas to get a truly photographic image. Use a thinner paintbrush with a round edge to paint in detailed lines.

    Here you can see I have used greens, purples, white and black to create leaves.

  8. To paint a log… Re-masking tape the area, slightly overlapping the jungle background to avoid any white lines. Mix up a range of different browns and creams, and don’t be afraid to use purples, pinks and blues in the mix. Use your fingers to really massage the paint in to allow for seamless shading around the log.

    Here you can see I re-masking taped the area, to avoid paint leaking.

  9. Remove masking tape to check on your progress, and paint on details.
    A trick I use is to use the opposite end of the paintbrush to scratch into the canvas to create a wood texture.

    Here you can see that I have finished the background.

    And now for the difficult part. The lemur.
    Although hopefully, for me, that is the easiest part.
    Leaves took me out of my comfort zone, but I think I did a good job.
    Thoughts? 

    I should have a lot of time this weekend to create my lemur,
    so that the painting is ready for my colleague upon her return from holiday.

    Stay Tuned! 🙂