I often get asked how I make the fur so realistic. The most important think I have learnt;

– always make your pencil strokes follow the direction of the fur

– layer, lots of fine layers. Don’t go to heavy with the pastel pencils otherwise it will fill the nap of the paper and you will struggle to add any more layers.

– Look for the colours in the fur, white fur is never just white. Black fur is never just black

Here my subject is a springer spaniel called Alfie. White fur is one I still struggle with and I am never sure I am 100% happy with it, I will however tell you how I do it and expalin the technique I am most happy with.

FirstIn this I will be focusing on Alfie’s chest fur. I look closely and see the under colour of his fur is a light brown, and in the darker shadows a dark brown with some greys and purples.

I layer Derwent raw umber over his chest closely following the fur direction and making sure my pencil strokes follow that.

In the darker areas I use derwent brown earth.

In this image you can see I have started to add some lighter fur over the top. Here I have  used a very light grey, again follow the direction of the fur.

2ndI have also added some warm grey the right side where I feel the colours are less brown. All the time I am looking at the photo to see what colours I can see to add to the fur.

As I go I am making sure the layers aren’t applied too thickly so I can add more layers and most importantly the final white highlights

I hope you can see how it is taking shape

Here I have added some more grey and I have begun to add some white too.

3rd imageI may darken up some of the shadows. You can also see I have added a little bit of grey to the shadow area.

I try and blend and soften some of the areas with a light warm grey pencil. Again very, very gently I do this with pencil that is blunt on one side. The aim of this is to soften some of the strokes so the final upmost ones stand out and it helps to give the impression of depth

finalHere we have the final image. I have darkened up the shadow areas with grey or brown and some purple.

I have highlighted the white fur with a white pencil and also a pastel stick, faber castell, in this case. It is a brighter whites and really makes those areas pop.


For the moment I will leave it as it is and finish the rest of the portrait. Then I will go over and give any final highlight s and low lights that are need to bring the piece together.

I hope this has helped a little and you will show me your white fur – feel free to share on my facebook page.

Don’t forget you can view more dog pet portraits here