Learning How to Paint Fur in Acrylics – 10 Days Challenge

A while back I made the decision to improve my painting skills. Something I always wanted to learn how to paint better are animals, but fur isn’t easy to replicate with a brush.

Doing a bit of research online, I realized what I was doing wrong. When you look at an animal’s coat, you don’t see a single color only. A mix of various shades go in, before the final paint, even if at a first glance, we only see a one color animal.

So, I want to share my technique, step by step, while I’m also learning how to paint it right:

1. I started with the sketch of the animal, in crayon, drawing the outline and basic shape.

2. Then I moved on to adding the base color, lighter or darker, depending on the light and also the fur color, by areas. This created depth and made the fur look much more real. Depending on the final color of the animal, I choose as base color, either grey, brown or blue.

3. Moving on to getting the cat closer to its final coat, I started adding hairs, with small movements, using a smaller brush. Later, I gave it a ‘fluffy’ touch with a larger brush.

4. Final steps, highlights. Using a mix of white, black and blue, I added the finishing touches, bringing some shine into the fur, keeping in mind the light on the animal’s coat, especially in the dark background paintings. 

In order to master the technique, I took a 10 days challenge and painted a different fluffy cat per day. Before you call me a crazy cat lady, in my defense, I only picked cats as subjects, because of the fluffiness of the fur 🙂

Here are my teachers, time lapse pictures/videos included:

Day 1 – Fluffy Grey Kitty

Started with a brown base color, and a grey background. Gradually added grey, black, white and brown hairs, and finished with white and black accents.

Day 2 – Moon Cat

Started with a black and dark blue background, and a dark grey+blue base for the cat. Gradually added lighter grey and white hairs, taking into consideration the shine of the moon, on the cat’s coat. The background clouds are a mix of white and grey, softened with a fluffy brush/sponge.

Day 3 – Gold Fish in Trouble

Started with the dark grey background for the wall, and a light grey for the table. Added a brown (both lighter and darker) base color for the cat, finishing off with black, grey and white hairs. Whiskers were done last, together with the white accents on the wall background, and the fish bowl.

Can you hear the Jaws theme song on the background? 🙂

Day 4 – Lion King

Big kitties are also kitties, so why not a lion?

To show better the painting technique, I’ve decided to start a video time lapse, for my paintings. I think it turned out pretty good, as I can review all my moves and the entire painting process is easier to follow.

day4-lion

Day 5 – Kitten Playing with Yarn

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

day5-kitty with yarn

Day 6 – Sleeping Kittens

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

day6-sleeping kittens

Day 7 – Leopard

Taking painting to the next level, with another big kitty, a gorgeous leopard.

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

day6-leopard

Day 8 – Tiger

And why not an ever bigger cat, a tiger?

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

tiger

Day 9 – Fluffy Grey Cat

A test kitty, to see if my painting technique improved since the first grey cat painting, from day 1. Definitely mastering much better, the fluffiness in the coat!

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

day9-kitty

Day 10 – Sleepy Best Friends

Painting dogs isn’t that much different from painting cats, so I just had to give it a try. What can be cuter than a basset puppy and a kitten sleeping?

Time lapse video of making the painting, step by step:

day10-puppyandkitten

10 big and small cats later (and one puppy), I’m very happy with my progress. My technique improved from one painting to the other. It was all a matter of mastering the right moves and the order of adding the color paint. Looking forward to my next challenge!

I’d love to hear your opinion on my progress. Which painting is your favorite?


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47 thoughts on “Learning How to Paint Fur in Acrylics – 10 Days Challenge

  1. Very Impressive! I loved watching your time lapse procedure – what a good idea! 🙂
    It is interesting to see you master this skill as you progress through your paintings.
    I think my favourite is number 9 – Fluffy grey cat – There is just something exuberant in his strut. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. Glad you like them! I knew you will enjoy the time lapse videos. I made a test one first, for the lion, and when I saw the result, I wanted to watch myself paint again 🙂 Good to find faults and improve. I also think no 9 is the better one, in terms of coat. I can’t wait to paint some more! Have a lovely evening!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sarah! Glad you like them. My favorite part of the fish bowl painting is the gold fish. The cat’s fur could have looked better, but I think it looks pretty good 🙂 Have a lovely evening!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I aim to capture that in any painting. That’s what makes them look real. If you say I managed to do it, I’m very happy about it! Have a lovely day! x

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    • My pleasure, Amanda! I think that’s a very good trick, in case you want to check your moves, and also help someone else learn. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Have a great day! x

      Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for your kind words. It was a lot of work, but I think I’m improving so I’m quite happy about it 🙂 Have a lovely day!

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  2. Moon cat is my absolute favourite ! 🙂 I just love it !!! Fluffy grey cat is also good (according to my taste) 🙂 when it comes to art (painting, photography, sculpture,..), there is a lot of subjectivity. We don’t know why we like this or that, it doesn’t mean the others are bad 🙂

    It’s good that you took this challenge, practice is the key when it comes to painting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I very much appreciate your feedback and support! I hope to improve as much as possible at it. I love to see myself improve with every new painting. If I can keep it up, it would be perfect! x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I’m very happy to know you like them!! Your sister’s work is amazing. You should definitely spend some time with her, and see a painting come to life. This is why I made the time lapse video. Is so nice to see how it becomes a painting 🙂 Have a lovely weekend! x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant work, thank you for following me. I love the big cats very much, and grey cats hair is brilliant, it shows practice pays off. Once you master hair it can be useful to exaggerate it and even use it to cover mistakes! We all make them! Everyday is a learning day. By the way, I love the feet in grey cat, that can be troublesome at times. Keep up the great work, and enjoy, Bec xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words and for following me! Very much appreciate it! I’m happy you can also see the difference which came with practice. I think I improved a lot lately, but I still work at it with every chance I get. Glad you like the grey cat! They are quite cuddly 🙂 Have a beautiful weekend and I look forward to seeing more of your work! xo

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Susan! It definitely helped a lot. I had no idea that intense painting week will come back as much a major improvement in my fur painting technique. It only got better ever since, so I’m very happy with it 🙂 Happy you like the Moon cat! It’s pretty cute, I guess. Have a lovely day and thank you so much for your kind feedback!

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  4. Pingback: Haunted by Van Gogh | BEADS ACADEMY

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