View Full Version : Lynx and Hawker Step by Step (xPost from Wildlife)

04-18-2015, 09:27 AM
Hello All
Long time no speaky, so I hope you are all well
I have mainly been staying away for work since just before Christmas, but the good thing about that is that you can get lots of artwork done in the evenings!
Thought you might like to see a step by step of a Lynx that I did.

Title Lynx and Hawker
Medium: Pastel on Velour
Size: 35cm x 40 cm
(14" x 16")
This is the finished piece - see step x step below from sketch to finished piece

I started out with a few very rough sketches to help me decide on layout and initially was deciding whether to add in a butterfly or a damselfly.

The sketches also helped me to decide on placement of elements, composition and whether to go portrait or landscape.

The main reference images - Lynx and the Hawker are courtesy of my husband John and the irises are made up from a selection of my own shots.

I used scale dividers to make sure that the proportions of my outline sketch were accurate, in the image below I have mapped out the grid lines that I use as reference points to take the measurements from.

This might look complex, but its very straight-forward to do once you have seen the technique and the dividers allow you to scale any image up or down with total accuracy.
I teach people this technique on my pastel wildlife courses to check out my website if you fancy learning something new.
So you set the scale dividers to the required scale by adjusting the pivot point in the centre. For this piece I enlarges the Lynx by 1.5 times.
In this shot I take a measurement from the top of the eye to the nose.

I use the opposite end of the dividers to mark the correct spot on the velour.

You can use a ruler if you want to make sure that you are keeping your reference points in line

I work around the piece transferring reference points and sketching until finally I have a finished sketch

I finally settled on a Hawker rather than a butterfly as I felt that the colour gave a great contrast to the Lynx colour and I loved the delicateness of the transparent wings.

Here I have completed the sketch with both the Hawker and Iris elements and I couldn't resist a little dark shading on the Lynx as I sketched.

In Part 2 I start on the colour
See you in a bit

04-18-2015, 09:34 AM
OK - ran out of image room in part 1 so here we go with the colour...


I used Unison Pastel sticks to begin with to block in the main colour areas. This is the first time I've used Unison and I am soooooo hooked!
They are a beautiful creamy texture and cover velour so well. The high quality pigments make for some very vibrant colours.

After getting the basic green colour down I switched to a slightly more chalky pastel to add in some vague suggestions of foliage which I then blended with a blending stump

Here's the background finished for now

Next I start on the Iris leaves, so I alternate between stick pastels and Pastel pencils for the finer details - currently using Pitt Pastels (Faber Castel) and Derwents - although I have shiny new set of Caran D'Ache waiting for an outing

As I add the leaves I also start to place the iris blooms

You can see why you need sharp pencils to get this detail.

Next its time to pay attention to the Hawker

I start with a base of light cerulean blue and add in a few light spots

Next I add the dark blocks to the body and use a graphite pencil and white fine chalk retracting pencil for the veins and highlights on the wing

Now my favourite bit. I always start with the eyes, because I love the point when it looks like there is some life appearing - a little nuts I know

What's the point of putting the Hawker in there if she can't see it lol

OK so in part three we start on the cat
See you in a bit

04-18-2015, 09:41 AM
Time for the Lynx
so I start to block in the darker areas with the unisons


Once I have the darkest colours in I add in the lightest areas. this then allows me to blend the mid-tones in between


I tweak the Hawker from time to time, in this shot I've added the faintest ochre tinge as a reflection from the cat.

One of the reasons that I love working on velour is the number of layers of pastel it can take. the greater the number of layers, the more depth you will have in the fur. From here on I am working solely with pastel pencils which are kept sharp, this allows me to add the myriad of rusts and browns that you can see in the Lynx fur. The most important thing is to work in the direction of the fur growth.


OK so far so good...

Now I start on the face where the fur is a little shorter and has that "Salt and Pepper" look

Finally the Whiskers with a sharp white pastel pencil

And no doubt after a tweak and adjustment here and there (I never know when to stop) we're done!

Hope you enjoyed the step by step - check out my website and blog for many more.

04-18-2015, 05:11 PM
This was all so wonderful to see. Great work

04-18-2015, 06:56 PM
Beautiful Jill

04-19-2015, 01:22 PM
What a charming idea to add that dragonfly to the scene! Thank you for such an extensive and informative WIP, so interesting! And I LOVE the lynx's fur, so thick and soft!

04-19-2015, 01:53 PM
I love it! Thank you so much for the step by step and explanations! I never seem to have the patience to do the fur layers. I also think I need to use sharper pencils like you suggest!

04-19-2015, 02:02 PM
You did SUCH a beautiful job on this!

04-19-2015, 10:42 PM
Wow, thank you for such a great detailed WIP series! I love your lynx, you managed to put three of my favorite subjects all in one painting as irises are a favorite flower and dragonflies always fascinated me. Her fur is phenomenal, you really captured the way lynx hair has the agouti look - each hair tipped or shaded in two or three hues! Thanks for showing how you checked her proportions too. I was a little suspicious of her muzzle length until I saw how you mapped out the photo and remembered lynx proportions might be different from bobcat or house cat. More big-jawed. She's utterly beautiful and you captured her at a difficult, splendid angle.

Gorgeous painting and fascinating technique!

04-20-2015, 02:16 PM
Wow! Some great feedback here - thank you :clap:

Hi Jay, Glad you liked it - hope it was useful to see the end to end

Thanks Scotty :)

Dorothea, glad you like it, yes I thought that the dragonfly was a bit meatier than a butterfly so it made a better composition.

You are most welcome Calley, it is difficult to keep pastel pencils sharp. I found a retractable dressmakers pencil with a 7mm lead, so I tend to use that for my whiskers :cat:

Thanks Blayne, I'm please it hit the spot :)

Hey Robert - How are you? Great that these are your 3 favourites. I felt that the Iris would contrast the fur and make both pop a little. Yes the muzzle is a bit more dog-like than cat like, gives that squareish look. We were so lucky to be allowed into the enclosure with this lady as she is classed as a small cat and had to be hand reared. Still needed a keeper for safety though, but were able to get some great ref shots.

04-20-2015, 09:50 PM
Jilly, beautiful work, love the detail. I have been working on velour paper for years but can't seem to get pastel pencils to work on my paper. What kind of pastel pencils work the best for you?

Thank you,

04-21-2015, 09:01 AM
Thanks Stephanie. I use Unison pastels to lay in the base colour as they are so creamy and intense. Then I overlay with Pencil for the detail. In this case they were Derwent and Pitt pencils. I have another WIP that I will post shortly and used Caran D'Ache pencils which are very vibrant too.

04-21-2015, 09:26 PM
Thank you for your answer, I have the Derwent and Pitts in pencils,I'm doing something wrong, maybe it's the type of velour paper I'm using.....


04-22-2015, 08:33 AM
Hi Stephanie
Well I know there are different types of velour and I have tried the cheaper versions, but I always go back to Hanehmhule because of its quality. It seems to be able to take way more layers that the cheaper stuff. I guess the technique is in creating the layers. Are you using soft pastels for the underpainting? Soft pastels are a different make up to pencil pastels and generally give a much more intense colour and vibrancy. I only use the pencils for the top layers of detail. See if that works :)

04-23-2015, 05:03 PM
I have been coming back several times a day since you posted your work.
I have had just one experience with velour, and that experience tells me that this is simply not possible :D I really don't understand how this surface works. I think there is A LOT of attempts ahead for me to get it :)

Thank you very much for posting the close ups!

04-23-2015, 06:43 PM
Hi Nick
Thanks for your comments :)
I must admit that velour can take a little getting used to, but it is worth persevering because it gives great results particularly for fur. I'll be posting some more WIPs soon, so I'll be sure to photograph the detail.

04-25-2015, 08:03 AM
Thank you very much, Jilly :) Honestly, it felt like painting on a carpet :D Nothing what I knew was working. I need to learn to use pastel pencils more and to practice a lot.

Are you familiar with Lesley Harrison book about painting animals? I wonder if it would make the start with velour easier.

I think I will try the leaves of your irises for start, it looks easier than the rest of your painting :)