How to Paint: TIGER FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Tiger Fur Tutorial - Oil Painting

How to Paint: TIGER FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Tiger Fur Tutorial - Oil Painting

Video Transcript

Hi guys

Welcome to another video. Today I'm going to be teaching your how I paint tiger fur.

So to start, what I have done is taken a small piece of watercolour paper that has been primed and taped it to a surface using painter's tape. I'm going to be using primarily oil paint for this demonstration, so its very important that you use a primed surface. Next step is to lightly sketch in where the different shapes and tones will go. Since I am working with tiger fur today, I drew in where the stripes would fall, as well as a couple of the main fur clumps.

So before jumping in with oils, I like to give my paintings a toned base. I do this for my paintings because I find it a lot easier to work off a middle ground tone rather than stark white, because it allows you to develop both your shadows and highlights right away. My technique for doing this is super simple, I take a small amount of acrylic paint and dilute it heavily with water, so it is very thin and transparent. Grab a big brush, and add a thin layer of your diluted paint to the surface. While the paint is still wet, you can dab away some of it with paper towel or another absorbent material to add lighter areas. Now let the acrylic dry completely before moving onto your next step.

So the primary colours that I will be working with for this demonstration are burnt sienna, titanium white, a nice purple called Cobalt Violet Hue, yellow ocher, raw umber and ivory black. The purple tone can be subbed out for another purple, but that particular one is my favorite. I use purple tones in my shadows, I think that it gives them a really lovely richness. Yellow ocher will help to bring out some yellow tones in the fur where needed.

You'll notice that I have laid down all of the colours I mentioned except for ivory black. Over the years I have gotten into the habit of not actually using black paint very often, usually reserving it for paintings that are purposefully greyscale. I use a combination of other dark tones, like raw umber, cobalt violet hue and pthalo blue to create these lovely rich dark shadows. Black tends to look very flat and unrealistic, so I have learned to avoid it most of the time. For this piece I will likely be doing a black glaze over the stripes on the final pass.

So the first step that I do when I begin painting is block in some of the darker shades first, In this case it is going to be the stripes. Using raw umber and some medium, I roughly paint in the dark shapes so I know where they are. For the medium, I am using a bit of Liquin Original by Winsor & Newton. I like this substance because it cuts down on the drying time of the oil paint, and its one that is extremely helpful when it comes to glazing.

One important thing to mention here is that I am working from a reference. I am not of the opinion that using a reference will make you weak as an artist, in fact I think the opposite is wholly true. Learning to utilize reference material, whether it be photographs, live models or whatever you have is a very useful tool that can help you learn and to hone your skills. The reference that I am using for this piece is a little snippet of a photo I took of a tiger at my local zoo.

The next step that I am doing is adding some burnt sienna and titanium white to the darker paint that I created the stripes with to create a nice dark rust tone, this is going to be used to start fleshing out the darker base of the orange fur.

Because I am working on my base layer or underpainting, I'm keeping my brush strokes pretty rough. The important part here, for painting fur at least, is that you are keeping your strokes flowing in the direction of the fur.

Now I'm going in and darkening the stripes a bit more.

Going in with a smaller round brush, I'm working with a darker tone, mostly with raw umber, to add a bit of definition to the fur. Natural fur, especially when its not super short and silky, tends to clump together. Paying attention to where the fur clumps can add a nice dose of realism to your painted fur.

When I'm painting I typically like to work with the shadows and darker tones first, then building up some highlights. So don't be alarmed if your fur is already way darker than you were initially aiming for, it will get much lighter in the next few steps.

I mix burnt sienna with titanium white to create my first highlight shade. Working with a smaller round brush, I start working in some of the highlights, paying very close attention to your reference photo so you know and understand exactly which direction the fur is flowing in. Don't worry if your fur isn't super vibrant or saturated at this point as the final step is glazing, which will help to give everything a nice bright dose of colour.

Now I'm going in with an even lighter tone over those highlighted areas to further bring out the definition of those fur pieces. I find that when I'm working I tend to do two layers of shadows followed by two layers of highlights, and then bounce back and forth. First pass with shadows, then another with a darker tone, then base highlights, and then a brighter highlight. Back and forth until you are content with your progress.

When painting fur, I like using a round brush. It has nice long bristles that come to a relatively fine point. Often while you're painting with one, you'll notice that you begin to lose definition in those strokes as the bristles start to splay a bit. What I do is take my brush in the paint, and apply paint only to two opposite sides, working it back and forth. This flattens the bristles so they act more like a blade which gives a nice sharp line but if you turn the brush a quarter turn you get a nice flat surface that you can use to cover more area or add texture.

Because I'm right-handed and a lot of the fur was flowing directly to the left, it was getting very awkward for me to paint properly. When this happens, I rotate my paintings to make things easier.

The next step is to go back in with the shadows and define the fur again.

Want to know the materials I use to create my paintings?

Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour Paint -
Gamblin Artist's Oil Colors -

Mediums and other liquids
Winsor & Newton Liquin Original -
Mona Lisa Linseed Oil -
Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner -
Gamblin Gamvar -
Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Size Adhesive -
Gold Leaf (Imitation) -
Gold Leaf (Genuine) -
Liquitex White Gesso -

Filming Equipment for Videos
Canon Rebel T5i -
Tripod -
Lavalier Microphone (for voiceovers) -
Adobe Premiere Pro CC

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