View Full Version : Cat, problem

07-12-2015, 05:11 AM

Second time I try my hand at pastels and I seriously need a lot of practise! Anyhow, here below is my try at a cat. The eyes could be better, but I do think them OK for my second try with pastels. The fur... welk let's keep it to 'needs improvement'.

But I have a problem. I wanted to add a neck so the head isn't floating. But it was a total failure. I tried erasing it, with the below resultaat. Had anyone got any idea's on how to rescue the drawings? I was thinking of letting the head rest on a pillow, but I'm not able to do pillows het. Any other idea's?

Paper: Canson Mi-Teintes (slightly bigger than A4)
Material: Rembrandt pastel sticks + Derwent pastel pencils


Tips and comments on the cat head itself are always welcome!

07-12-2015, 05:10 PM
I don't do cats myself but I suggest you go out onto the web and look at cat pictures. That will help for sure.

Big K
07-12-2015, 07:52 PM

I am more than happy to give pointers, your eyes are nice, you are definitely on the right track here, and I think with time you will have them looking very nice indeed.

Ok the think to remember with fur is on a cats face it has many lengths

Me personally I build up from a base colour. I will put some pics up to show what I mean.

Here is the start of the Snow Leopard I did using the same pencils as you have used.

As you will see I have used based colours that I blend. I make sure that they flow in the direction of the fur. So all lines even thought heavily blended are going in the direction they need to be.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/qldkiwi1975/11329748_10153309685652417_4405151162390062159_n_zpswurd4ctk.jpg (http://s267.photobucket.com/user/qldkiwi1975/media/11329748_10153309685652417_4405151162390062159_n_zpswurd4ctk.jpg.html)

Then I start building up the detail like the fur. Sometimes less is more and if you get you base colours right having them show through is actually a good thing.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/qldkiwi1975/Mobile%20Uploads/14322580339281906635984_zpsms3hncrs.jpg (http://s267.photobucket.com/user/qldkiwi1975/media/Mobile%20Uploads/14322580339281906635984_zpsms3hncrs.jpg.html)

I do a small area to completion then move on as shown here. Sometimes I might go back to it, but generally I like to have it finished.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/qldkiwi1975/13285_10153325952117417_1371500891950651699_n_zpsrodbyklz.jpg (http://s267.photobucket.com/user/qldkiwi1975/media/13285_10153325952117417_1371500891950651699_n_zpsrodbyklz.jpg.html)

As you can see plenty of base colour showing though finished areas, but because it's the right colour, and because every line mark despite being blended mostly is flowing in the right direction it's ok.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/qldkiwi1975/11147583_10153353207117417_2553349512845560151_n_zpsvi5lxbdk.jpg (http://s267.photobucket.com/user/qldkiwi1975/media/11147583_10153353207117417_2553349512845560151_n_zpsvi5lxbdk.jpg.html)

Now this is where I think you are going wrong. Have a look at all the fur in the next WIP shot. Many different lengths, some subtle and some very obvious, but also it doesn't all flow in the same direction.

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii308/qldkiwi1975/11350457_10153355535082417_6685492329491258520_n_zpspfulfjz2.jpg (http://s267.photobucket.com/user/qldkiwi1975/media/11350457_10153355535082417_6685492329491258520_n_zpspfulfjz2.jpg.html)

What I think you need to do is a few studies. Pick sections of some cat images where the fur has various lengths, directions etc and have a play, do a few in pencil so you are just concentrating on the fur etc, draw a couple upside down, sounds odd but it helps.

You are definitely in heading the right direction and you should be proud that your second attempt looks as good as that does.

I have a lot to do today, will pop back in and answer any question or help some more later if you would like.

07-13-2015, 01:57 AM
Thanks a lot for the pictures, I'm sure they will help. But I wonder, how do you get lines so sharp? Even when I keep sharpening my pencils, they don't give me lines as sharp as yours.

I'm definately going to print your pictures and text to keep with me on my next try. Will print off some parts of a cat's head to study too.


Big K
07-13-2015, 05:21 AM
That drawing is on a piece of paper 68cm x 48cm. It's a big piece, when doing fur I use a really light touch, to the point the pencils weight is the only weight applying any pressure. I sharpen alot with a knife, I had 5 white pencils sharpened for example and would resharpen every 10 minutes, maybe more.

Also what paper are you using? I use a textured paper which I find really helps get good sharp lines down. The paper I use is Canson mi teintes tex paper which comes in a nice selection of colours.

07-13-2015, 06:00 AM
I'm also using the Canson Mi-Teintes paper, this a light grey one.
I bought a few big papers which I let them be cut in 4.
This gave me paper slightly bigger than A4 size.
I think I used the structured side of the paper.

Maybe I should use bigger paper, but I'm still not comfortable with bigger paper. This being because I lose sight of the subject quicker on bigger paper. How to explain, I have difficulties keeping track of everything. Plus weirdly enough I get back aches when working on a big paper. Go figure... I have already heard it is 'easier' on big paper, because you can work out details much better. And I can see that when viewed from afar you indeed get sharper lines.

So you use a knife to keep the pencils sharp? I should try it too. I still use a pencil sharpener. I'm afraid of breaking the pencil, cutting it wrong (and cutting in my fingers, I'm that handy with a knife). Maybe I should try it with an old pencil I'm not using anymore to get some experience in it.

Big K
07-13-2015, 07:00 AM
Are you using the Mi Teintes TEX paper. It has a sort of light sandpaper finish which works beautifully with the pastel pencils.

07-13-2015, 07:50 AM
Hmm... no I don't think so. I think it is the 'regular ' Mi Teintes.
At least I didn't see anything mentioned extra in the shop with this paper.
I still have several leaves left, but when they are finished I can check the TEX out.
I guess it takes the pastel better than the regular one?
Does this also mean you can put more layers on top of each other?
Or does it remain the same?

Big K
07-13-2015, 04:26 PM
You can apply more layers, it's a lot more durable and takes the pastel pencils very very well. You'll love it. I have some of the stuff you're talking about, and it's nice, but the Tex stuff is just soooo much better I think anyway. You buy it as single sheets, A3 and A1 are the sizes they come in.

07-13-2015, 06:12 PM
Stunning WIPs!!! Thank you!!

Black Scorpion - go to Youtube and watch Colin Bradley's videos on drawing cats. I learned from him - he uses all hard pastel pencils. He is wonderful (and an occasional contributor to wetcanvas :))

07-13-2015, 10:20 PM
Hi Blackscorpion

I too do animals and cats, and the first time I did a cat's head (albeit in CP, not pastels) I knew I had a looong way to go! You are getting the hang of the eyes, for sure.

As for adding a neck, you might want to find pics of cats online that are the same angle as your cat and use that as a guide.

As for getting fine fur, it's true - the paper, the support you use has a lot to do with it. Each artist will find they can achieve detail better with one paper than another, so it's a matter of experimenting and finding out what works for you. Dakota pastels has sample packs, I believe, of various sorts of papers to try, without you having to buy a whole pad at once of the one paper.

Also, believe it or not you can get better fur definition using hard pastels - not pastel pencils. They must have more pigment load and less binder, I imagine, because doing a white whisker with sharpened pastel compared to a pastel pencil is much easier. YOu get a nice, opaque, sharp line. The trick is to get the pastel sharpened, but you just use a corner of it, not sharpen entire thing to a point. Like anything, it takes a bit of practice.

07-13-2015, 10:30 PM
I think perhaps you're having trouble with the neck because the head appears very flat - no differing plane to attach the parts. If you think of the head as a round ball & shape and shade it as a ball, should help. The neck, a tube. Also, whiskers are best broken up, not solid. The WIP's from Big K are stunning.

07-14-2015, 01:57 AM
Thanks a lot y'all!
I have found the video of Colin Bradley, will definately try my hand at it.
Don't have time today, maybe tomorrow, but will definately try it.

And I will keep in mind the TEX paper of Canson.
Going to use the ones I have, the regular mi-teintes, for now though.
I have them, so I better use them, right? And it's just for practise now anyhow.

Must admit, reading here and hearing you all so enthusiastic, does help me get and stay enthusiastic as well :).