Last week I published a post on painting a panda in acrylics. In this post, I'm going to focus on tips for painting white fur in acrylics.
Be prepared for very little of the fur to actually be white. In fact, the shades I’ve used for my panda go all the way to a dark gray. I’m only using white for my brightest highlights. When I painted the underpainting for this guy, in fact, I painted his entire back a medium to dark gray as my base shade. I used a similar shade of gray on the right side of his face.
Make sure to bring surrounding colors into the fur. For example, white fur almost always has blue in because it’s reflecting the sky. In the case of my panda, though, because I used an entirely green background and there’s no blue in it, bringing blue into the panda’s fur wouldn’t have made much sense. Instead, I mixed a lighter version of the same green I’d used for the background and brought that into the panda’s fur. I also brought some brown light brown in because of the bamboo.
Even though you will be bringing surrounding colors into your white fur, make sure to keep them muted and transparent. If you make them bright or opaque, it won’t look realistic.
Make sure your strokes are going in the right direction. You’re not necessarily going to paint in every strand of fur. That will look artificial, and in fact, I only put in little touches of individual hairs on his back and legs. I did a lot more on his face, though, and I suspect that was because he was probably wet when I took this photo. Getting back to what I was saying, though, make sure your strokes go in the right direction, because this not only will give you a hint of the texture of the fur, but will ultimately form the animal’s body, ie, his bones and muscles.
Make friends with your liner brush. I have a video that I think will help you learn how to use it. You’ll need to learn to be able to use a liner brush properly to make whatever individual fur strokes you’ll need.
I'm going to copy and paste a paragraph from my post on painting this panda in full, which I would like to remind you of, since it's very relevant here.
I want to point out that when I’m painting all these fur lines, I find that, as much as I like to maintain control, when I make quick strokes, often with a little wrist flick, I’m happier with my results than when I go real slow and try to control everything. Maybe that’s because most things in nature are rough and uncontrolled. I hope that makes sense. I followed this principal of not trying to control things too much to paint extra fur texture around his left ear, his eye, and again, where the black on his fur meets the white.
Again, though make sure, though, that your strokes are going in the general right direction and that they're approximately the right size and shape. Also, pay attention to how much of your brush is touching the canvas as this will determine how thick your lines are. If you want extremely thin lines, barely let the tip of your brush touch the canvas.
You can read my post about this entire painting here.
Painter of portraits and wildlife