How To Paint: LONG FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Fur Tutorial

How To Paint: LONG FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Fur Tutorial

Video Transcript

Hi guys

Welcome to another video!

Today I will be showing you how I paint flowing fur. This can be applied to any colour of fur, you just need to adjust the actual paint that you use. While I do use oil paint here, you can totally use these steps for acrylic paint as well!

Lets get started!

So for the purpose of this tutorial, I'm going to be painting a fur block that isn't attached to anything, just for demonstrative purposes. My inspiration was a little bit of blonde bison beard hair ** insert quick clip**. Although I didn't follow any references directly for this particular demonstration as I have been painting fur for years and have a pretty good feel for it, I highly recommend that you follow a reference, especially if you are first getting started. Fur needs a lot of variation to feel natural, so make sure you look at both photos and real live models if you have them. I had some chunky fur in mind, that is soft yet sort of sticks together in clumps, which allows you to play with some fun shadows. Before I start a painting, I always ask myself where the light is coming from, and what sort of atmosphere I want to achieve. For this little demo, the light is coming from the top left, and the atmosphere will be defined by my usual shadow and highlight tones. I have the tendency to make all of my shadows slightly purple in tone, and my highlights to be warm and golden. These are by personal preference, so be sure to experiment to find the colour palette you like.

Alright, less talking, more painting!

I usually start with a super light rough sketch of where the main fur chunks will fall before jumping in with the brush. For this demo I'm going to be painting some basic brown fur, of which I will add some variation to in the later steps. I start by grabbing a large-ish brush and mix up a diluted dark tone. Because I'm using oils, I mix some burnt umber with paint thinner to make a watery mixture that flows nicely but is still dark, and stroke that into the shadows to start building our foundation. References are great here to give you a feel of how the shadows will fall on the fur. While I'm not worried at all about details at this point, you want to make sure that you are always stroking in the direction that the fur will flow.

Next step is going to be adding our middle tone. Essentially my workflow is sketch, dark rough shadows, rough middle tone, rough highlights. Let it dry, then work in more refined shadows, fur structure, and highlights. Let things dry again, and finally you can adjust everything with glazes.

I mixed up a bit of titanium white with burnt umber to make my middle tone, but like I mentioned earlier you can use whatever colours you like for your fur. Painting blonder tones? Use lighter, more yellow-toned colours. Painting blue fur? Use blue. Experiment!

So with this middle tone I essentially fill in all of the blank space, however if you have very dramatic lighting, I would avoid the space that should have the strongest lighting. But since this little demo doesn't have super strong highlights, I cover the entire surface.

I felt that I was losing the shape of the fur chunks, so I worked the shadows back in with more burnt umber, working wet into wet (or wet into slightly wet oils, since painting on unprimed paper makes your oils dry super fast - side note, don't do this, prime your paper). Make sure you are working with larger brushes at this phase, as you are not yet aiming for detail. I really like working with angular flat brush for blocking in fur as you can lay down large areas with the flat side of the brush, while also reaching into some tighter areas with the side or edge.

Working with the middle tone again, flesh out the fur chunks again before we jump into the highlights.

For highlights, you may be tempted to work with pure white paint right away. Don't do this. It ends up looking super unnatural and too dramatic. Add white to your middle tone to lighten it, and eventually build up the highlights, adding more white paint as you go. Again looking at references, stroke in the highlighted chunks of fur with the side or edge of your angular flat brush. Then to build up the highlights even more, mix more white into the paint and stroke that in where the light source is even stronger.

At this phase I bounce back and forth a lot, from highlights to shadows and back again, making small adjustments until things look right.

The next step is glazing. Glazing is when you mix a small amount of pigment into a vehicle, in this case I am using Liquin by Winsor and Newton, and use it to apply thin washes of paint to your painting. This can be used in a ton of ways, like amping up the saturation of a colour, adding colour variation, shadows, and more. Here I will be using glazes to add a purple tone to the shadows, and a warm golden tone to the highlights.

I will be making a glazing tutorial soon, but in the meantime, add a small blob of glazing medium to your palette, and grab a small dab of your paint of choice to the medium. I prefer to use palette knives to mix glaze, but feel free to use a brush if you feel more comfortable. The important thing is to ensure that you mix the paint and medium until it is homogeneous, nice and even. If you don't, and have bits of unmixed paint within the medium, you run the risk of applying far too much pigment to the painting. Mix mix mix, until you have that nice homogeneous glaze, nice and transparent. Then load up a brush, and apply a thin layer to the painting. The shadows here to receiving a layer of dark purple glaze, so I carefully brush that over the shadowed areas. I find that this adds a richness to the shadows, which is so much more interesting than using black. Same goes for the golden glaze, it adds a lovely warmth that is pleasing to look at.

So once you've layered on your glaze, let it dry. Don't touch it until it is fully dry, which thanks to the fast-drying nature of the glazing medium, should only be about a day.

Finally, I detail. Grabbing a fine rigger brush, mix up one of your lightest shades. I like to dilute my paint here just enough to allow it to flow nicely, as thicker paint will appear to "skip" over the surface since you will be using a light hand. Thinner paint will flow more easily, and allow you to create smooth, thin individual hairs. I mostly add these details in the highlighted areas, slightly venturing into the area of middle tones, but rarely going over the darkest areas with your light detailing paint.

If I find that the highlights are too stark and dramatic at this point, I will do another pass with glazes to bring everything together. Glazes are best done in multiple thin layers, especially when your goal is to adjust the colour. For instance, a glaze of red and then blue (or vice versa, of course letting things dry between each layer), will yield more vibrant results than a single glaze layer of purple.

But I think this fur looks pretty good! These steps can be applied to any colour of fur, so have fun with it! I hope you guys enjoyed this fur tutorial and have a chance to give it a go! If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and I'll do my best to get back to you!

Thanks so much for watching, see you next time!

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

* The above product links are affiliate links that allow me to make a small commission on each sale - every little bit helps!