• Kirsty Partridge

How to Draw Fur with Colored Pencil - DO's and DON'Ts

This is another blog in my do’s and don’ts series, and this time we are drawing brown fur with colored pencils. For real-time tutorials on how to draw animals in coloured pencils click here. There are lots of different techniques and tips to address, so let’s get straight into it!

On the left-hand side will be the don’t study, and on the right-hand side will be the do version.

Do: create a light outline sketch for your main sections of fur. Include the direction that the fur is going in (it could be different directions for every section). A sketch outline is very useful when it comes to adding colored pencils. I use graphite for my sketch outlines, as it is easy to erase if you make any mistakes.


  • Use erratic back and forth motions when drawing fur.

  • Start off with lots of pressure, we will be building up lots of layers of colored pencil, so you don't want to flatten the tooth of the paper early on.

What you want to do is use a brown pencil so you’re not too dark at the beginning and slowly build up layers from light to dark. Focus on where the shadows are and the direction of the fur. Build up more layers to get those darker tones. I go in lines from one end to another, but then start a new line rather than going back and forth. This stage just blocks in the sections of fur, the general shape and direction. Keep your pencil sharp when doing this.

Back over on the don’t side, I wrongly shade in the whole area of fur without paying attention to the direction of the fur. Don’t use scribbling motions to apply the pencil, as this will simply look messy.

Instead, you should use a light pencil to shade everywhere, creating a base layer. Make sure you shade each section in the correct direction, nice and gently. Slowly build up layers of color from cream to orange to light brown, building up the shadows in each section. Working with light to dark pencils allows you to preserve highlights and darken shadows; as you use darker and darker pencils, you should use them in fewer and fewer areas. With the darker brown, I use a bit more pressure to make sure it shows up for the dark shadows.

Keep checking your reference for shadows and highlights. Now I go in with a black pencil because I have worked up to it, again only using it on the darkest areas. It is important to make your fur look like it has layers for realism, from darker layers underneath to highlighted strands on top. The contrast of this creates depth, which is also key for realism.

On the don’t side I didn’t preserve highlights, unlike on the do side. I go in with ivory to lighten it up but it’s hard as the fur is so dark already. Using the same color on the do side smooths and blends everything out easily, as well as lightening the fur.

When drawing fur not every single strand is going to be uniformed and going perfectly in the same direction as other strands. You need to do those stray bits and messy bits in order to make it look realistic. Achieving this with a stick eraser is simple, just vary the thickness of the details you are erasing and curve them off, so they overlap different sections and don’t completely flow with the direction of the fur. Glazing colors over your fur also gives a lifelike look – try and pull these subtle tones from your reference.

Pulling up highlights and adding hues like this really does add depth, contrast and creates layers of fur. If you’ve erased any areas accidentally you can go back with the colored pencils and darken them again.

If you would like to improve your fur and animal drawings further, then head over to my online colored pencil courses.

To see these do’s and don’ts in action, watch the video below:

Materials used:

Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils- http://geni.us/Polychromos120Set

Strathmore Bristol Smooth 300s: http://geni.us/Bristolsmooth300s

Derwent Superpoint Sharpener: http://geni.us/DerwentSharpener

Disclaimer; some links are affiliated.


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