How to Paint: LONG BLACK FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Black Fur Tutorial - Oil Painting

How to Paint: LONG BLACK FUR with Oil Paint or Acrylic Paint - Black Fur Tutorial - Oil Painting

Video Transcript

Begin by quickly mapping out where your fur pieces will go with light pencil strokes. For long fur, it helps to be loose and fluid with the strokes.

I am painting onto primed watercolour paper with oils, but this technique can be applied to other surfaces, as well as acrylics with a few adjustments. I masked off my edges with painters tape, which helps to create a nice sharp edge as well as it secures the paper to the board.

When starting a painting, I always tend to start by blocking in some shadows, it helps to determine where things will go.

The biggest piece of advice I can give for painting realistic black fur, is to avoid using black paint. Sounds counter intuitive, I know. Black paint is notoriously flat and lifeless, which is the last thing that you want when trying to add life to a painting. You want to hand mix all of your darkest tones. I highly recommend giving this a try, with a little practice and experimenting, you should see some amazing results.

So I mixed a very dark tone, primarily using burnt umber, violet and a tiny dab of prussian blue (just a bit, that stuff is powerful). Using a large brush, dilute the paint with some medium to increase the flow, and block that roughly into the darkest areas. First focus on the large shadowed areas, then work in some strokes to begin to form the actual hair.

For mediums, I usually use odorless paint thinner (just a bit, not too much) or Liquin by Winsor & newton (other brands make a similar product).

Because I was working on white paper, which is not something I usually do, I went in with a medium tone next to build up the highlighted area.

As I block in those rough areas, I grab a dry brush, usually a soft angled brush, and blend the paint together, always stroking in the direction that the hair flows. This helps to create a nice soft, solid base to build upon.

So the next few steps are going to bounce between highlights and shadows. Again for the shadows I am using that dark mixture from before, mostly burnt umber, prussian blue and violet. Thinned with medium to the desired consistency. For the highlighted area, I'm using titanium white with a small dab of prussian blue and burnt umber. At this point I avoid using pure white for the same reason that I avoid pure black. Its flat, and lifeless, unless used properly. Whereas I very rarely use mars or lamp black in paintings anymore (the only time is when I'm actually painting a greyscale image), its pretty difficult to avoid white altogether so I like to work around this by mixing it with other paint until the very last detailing steps.

Throughout most of the painting, save for the final detailing step, I'm using a range of round brushes. I like these for long fur because they can create lovely flowing soft lines when the paint is thinned properly, yet can also lay down solid blocks of paint as well.

In between each step I am blending again with that dry angled brush. I find that by blending the paint in the direction of the fur, it aids in creating a much more realistic fur pattern. The blending can create darker and lighter patches that are pretty organic, which serve as a great base for detailing later on. If your brush starts to create some variation in the fur, lean into it. Realistic fur is a little chaotic and variation will be a huge helping hand if you are aiming for realism.

One thing I am careful to do during these phases is define the fur chunks that are beginning to form. Fur is not uniform and perfect, so make sure that your painted

fur shows variation!

Working back and forth, bouncing between highlights and shadows...gradually using smaller and smaller brushes to add more detail.

So earlier I talked about not using black because it tends to make the paintings flat. Well, despite not using black, this fur is still looking pretty flat, and not very realistic. So now is time for one of my favorite steps to any painting - glazing! Glazing is a technique in which you take a small bit of paint and add it to a medium (I use Liquin), mix it until its homogeneous, and apply it to your painting. This creates gentle washes of colour that can be built up to increase intensity. I use this anytime I want to add some colour variation, deepen shadows or add some glow.

Here I am mixing a tiny bit of Prussian blue with Liquin and adding a dark blue wash to most of the painting, first making sure that the lower layers are completely dry, focusing mostly on the shadows but still letting a bit of the blue venture into the lighter areas. Black fur reflects the environment, so if you have a strong coloured light source in your painting you may need to use a colour other than blue for glazing.

I like to save my final detailing phase for after the glaze layers. Taking my finest brushes, usually a rigger or liner brush for long flowing fur, and mix up a dark tone and light tone with some medium. I'm usually going for the extremes at this point, so I use my darkest dark with the burnt umber, prussian blue and violet. Now I am using pure white for the highlight, since we are in the final detailing phase and only the very brightest of areas will be receiving this pure white paint. The consistency of the paint is key at this point, I find it helpful to thin it with paint thinner in order to keep those bristles flowing nicely over the surface. Practice on a spare piece of paper to practice. Roll your paintbrush into your thinned paint, being careful to roll the bristles to a point, or by flattening the bristles so they create a sharp edge. Now with a loose wrist, carefully maneuver the brush so that you create nice flowing lines, the bristles should glide gently over the surface. If your lines are jagged and thick, try thinning your paint more with odorless thinner or using a brush that is in better shape. Using nice controlled strokes, work in those final defined shadow strokes and brightest highlighted hairs.

And we're done! Hopefully this was helpful! If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment down below! In the description of video I have the list of supplies used.

Thanks for watching!

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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