Today I want to show you how to draw short cat fur. Or at least one way to draw cat fur.
Although the subject for this tutorial is cat fur, the process applies to pretty much any type of animal fur that’s short.
And any color. All you need to do is substitute the colors I list here for other colors of similar value to draw other colors of fur.
Also remember that you don’t need to use the same paper or pencils that I used for this demo. You can successfully draw short cat fur—or any kind of fur—with your favorite pencils and paper.
So what am I using?
The paper is Canson Mi-Teintes Steel Grey, which is a medium gray. If you use Canson Mi-Teintes, remember to use the back side, which is smoother than the front.
I used Faber-Castell Polychromos for most of the work, then added a few Prismacolors to finish. I’ll share color names with each step.
Shall we begin?
How to Draw Short Cat Fur
This demo is a follow-up to How to Draw Cat Eyes with Colored Pencils.
Step 1: Lay Down the Base Color
The portion of fur we’ll draw is brightly lighted by the sun. There is a strong cast shadow above that lighted portion, so the first thing to do is carefully sketch in the line between sunlight and shadow with Warm Grey I if you’re using Polychromos, or the lightest warm, gray in your brand.
Then lightly shade the sunny part with the same color. Work around the darker markings.
Use a sharp pencil, light to medium-light pressure, and a stroke that follows the direction of hair growth. Make the color layer smooth without filling in every bit of paper tooth. Some of the paper color should show.
Step 2: Add a Layer of Ivory
Next, add a light yellowish earth tone. In the Polychromos line, that’s Ivory, which is a light mix of Cream and White. If you’re using Prismacolor pencils, Putty Beige or French Grey 10% are equivalent. Use very light pressure for both layers very.
Work around the darker areas as shown below.
Continue using light pressure, a sharp pencil, and short strokes that follow the direction of fur growth. Don’t worry about drawing every hair. All you need right now is the look of cat fur.
You should also be able to see some gray from the previous layer showing through this layer of color, as well as some paper showing through both layers. This gives the fur a feeling of depth.
Step 3: Layer Cream over the Ivory
Next, layer Cream over the same areas. Use the same types of strokes (back-and-forth or directional strokes following hair growth patterns.)
Work around the lightest areas near the eye and around each stripe.
Step 4: Add Layers of Light Brown
Begin adding browns with Nougat (Polychromos) or French Grey 70% (Prismacolor.) Be a little more careful in working around the lighter colors and values, since there’s very little brown in some of them.
Use the same types of strokes with a sharp pencil. If you’ve been using medium pressure, go back to light pressure. It’s better to do a couple of light layers, than one layer with heavier pressure with the darker colors.
Work around the light areas around the eye and on the side of the cheek, but be careful not to draw sharp edges. These edges are where the fur texture is the most obvious, so stroke in the direction of hair growth.
Add more layers in the slightly darker values around the stripes and eye.
Step 5: Blend Lightly, Then Add Darker Values
Next, lightly layer Warm Grey II (Polychromos) or French Grey 20% (Prismacolor) over all of the sunny area except the brightest highlights. This is a blending layer, so use light pressure. Draw even color using either circular strokes or back-and-forth strokes.
Follow up with a layer of Walnut Brown (Polychromos) or Dark Umber (Prismacolor) applied with very short, directional strokes in the stripes and darker values. Add Black over the same areas with even shorter strokes.
Step 6: Glaze Color to Smooth out Rough Strokes
If your drawing starts to look too rough or if the strokesstart to look too bold, glaze a warm, medium value gray over those areas to smooth them out. I used Warm Grey VI. The medium value Prismacolor colors are also good for this blending area. Use a color that’s lighter than the area you want to blend.
The lightest highlights also need to be the warmest (most yellow,) so work around them.
Step 7: Darken the Dark Values
To finish, I switched to Prismacolor pencils. They’re softer, so they layer over existing color more easily.
I darkened the strips and darker middle values with a mix of Prismacolor Black and Chocolat. Use sharp pencils and medium pressure.
In the stripes, alternate layers of Chocolat, then Black, then more Chocolat if the stripe is a warm black. If it’s a cool Black, add another layer of Black. Keep your strokes short, and stroke in the direction of hair growth.
In the darker middle values between the stripes, mingle Black and Chocolat. Again, keep your pencils very sharp and your strokes very short. Work around the lighter values.
Step 8: Punch up the Highlights
Add Cream accents throughout the lighter areas. Use heavy pressure and short, directional strokes. Mingle strokes of Cream with the strokes of Black and Chocolat in the darker middle values.
In the shadows, layer Cream more evenly, but still only in the middle values. You want to tint the color in those areas, rather than add a lot of detail, so a sharp pencil and medium pressure is best.
Continue layering color until the fur looks the way you want it to look.
Here’s the finished portrait.
How to Draw Short Cat Fur
And that’s how I draw short cat fur.
To draw longer fur, lengthen the fur-like strokes. I also use the same basic method but with very short strokes to draw horse hair and other types of short fur.
In other words, this method is very versatile. Once you master it, you can draw any type of hair or fur.