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Friday, March 23, 2012

Animal Fur Color Made Simple

'Goldendoodle' 11x14 pastel ©Karen Margulis
Painting available $150 HERE Commissions Welcome
Brown, Black, Tan, Yellow, White ....are all words we use to describe the color of animal fur. When I paint animals I rarely use these colors. I like for my fur to have more life and exciting colors than what we consider the local color. A black cat painted with a black pastel isn't as interesting as a black cat painted with purples and blues. The same thing is true for any of the 'local' colors. Animal fur will reflect the colors in the environment and by incorporating some of these colors you can make the fur more lively and interesting to the eye. Sometimes it is easy to see interesting colors in the coat and of course everyone sees color differently but I have a technique I use for painting animal fur that allows me to introduce unexpected colors into the fur and still have it make sense.

The photo above shows a fur color chart I made. I illustrate how local fur color is actually made up of layers of local color along with some unexpected colors. The key to making it work is VALUE. If you have the value right then layering several colors will make it read correctly.

Let's take the creamy white fur of the Goldendoodle. I'd be tempted to take out my white pastels with some gray for the shadows. Instead, I simply chose 3-4 middle dark colors...peach, green, lavender and layered them in the shadows. I also chose 3-4 light colors that were lighter versions of these middle darks and layered them in the lighter fur. I always make sure to choose one of the colors to be close to the local color of the fur but by layering several colors of the same value, this local color is now much richer and more interesting.

The photo above shows a collection of my small cat pastels. I used the same technique to get the fur color as I did for the dog painting. Just remember the Value does all the work but Color gets the glory. So get the value correct and you can get away with interesting and unexpected color in animal fur.
For a refresher on value you may be interested in my post on value HERE

The mini aceo cat paintings are available on Daily Paintworks auction this week. Click here to see them larger.


Jo Castillo said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing your info.

Karen said...

Thank you Jo! I'm glad you can use the info! It's been so helpful to me.

Gaye Sekula said...

I absolutely love your posts and look forward to each and every one! Thanks for being so generous with your art and each mini art lesson!

Rachel said...

Karen, I look forward to your blog--I learn so much. The color charts for fur are great--thank you for sharing!! Rachel

robertsloan2art said...

Those cats are so beautiful! Thanks for showing your system for developing fur color with local color and all those other hues. It comes out so much richer doing that!

They read true. The blue shine on the upper right corner Siamese mask is spectacular. I have seen Ari in the sunlight looking that bright with blue highlights on his black mask and it's wonderful. You captured such a sweet expression in that cat too.

Karen said...

Thank you Robert! Your comments mean a lot to me as I know you are a true cat lover and really understand the subtleties of their color and personalities. The Siamese is my boy Tobi and he truly is a sweetheart!

Babs, Jo, John said...

Joining your admirers, love the info you give to pastel lovers
I am practicing (not doing well) but more confident having
found your Web, looking forward to working with you.