View Full Version : help needed fur on dog ears

12-10-2015, 11:22 AM
This is driving me insane. After attempt, after attempt, I just can't seem to capture springer spaniel ears in pastel on pastelmat. It ends up looking like strings of spagetti :lol: I try to map out the main shapes of the hair groups, but I tend to loose the thread (excuse the pun :rolleyes: ). Any suggestions to doing long hair on dog ears would be so, so, appreciated. I'm using pastel pencils (derwent).

12-10-2015, 04:30 PM
Think of long wavy flowing hair in masses. If it comes out like spaghetti you're doing long strokes folowing the curves. If you shade it as a mass and let the shadows fade off into the highlights, then come back from the highlight down into the shadow, you'll capture its silkiness. Try painting it as shapes of light and dark, but make your side strokes follow the lay of the lock - curve with it.

Starting on a mid tone paper maybe get just the shadows in then do highlights to give it shine. Side strokes with a half stick length are good. Show where it naturally splits but don't try to draw particular hairs. In some ways long wavy hair like that is closer to human hair, it's one of the same textures. Look at paintings of actresses like Marilyn Monroe, her hair, for how illustrators got the illusion of fine wavy hair - without drawing the hairs.

Each lock is a three dimensional shape with shadow areas and light that helps define that shape in space. A few gentle lines at the transitions may help hint at it but fade them, don't keep them hard and solid.

Depending on grooming there may be some spaghetti-like string clumps at the end of the ear too. Draw what you see more than what you think is there.

I'll sketch a sample of what I mean on sketch paper. In browns because while I don't know what color your dog is, many dogs' ears are brown. It'd work with blue-gray-violet shadows on white or blue-gray highlights on black the same. I just went for a color arrangement that'd work on a dog.


I used Cretacolor Pastels Carre' on brown sketch paper for this. But I'd shape it about like this with any type of pastels. I hope that this actually is the kind of dog ear you were talking about. I made it pretty wavy.

Equus Art
12-10-2015, 09:02 PM
While this isn't an ear, the treatment would be about the same since the hair is long and wavy on this dog. This is a close up of the hair of a border collie portrait I did. Basically, about the same way as Robert described.



12-11-2015, 04:15 AM
While this isn't an ear, the treatment would be about the same since the hair is long and wavy on this dog. This is a close up of the hair of a border collie portrait I did. Basically, about the same way as Robert described.


Wow Cat! I thought that was a photo crop. Your detail is amazing! OP...can you post a woo?

12-11-2015, 04:17 AM
Wow Cat. I thought that picture was a crop of a photo. Your level of detail is amazing. Lindap...can you post a wip to let us know what you're working with and what your issue is?

12-11-2015, 07:45 PM
Cat, lovely detail of your border collie painting! Beautiful polished example of long silky wavy hair on an animal. You've inspired me!

I also think for all the detail that you've improved on a photo there. I see how it's simplified and nuanced, what wonderful little texture areas you created - linear accents that are a little more crinkled and woolly like undercoat being shedded through the long guard hairs. You really know your fur! This could be a tutorial example for Animals & Wildlife forum on how to handle fur!

Equus Art
12-11-2015, 09:09 PM
Thanks, Robert! This piece was done on Pastelmat. It was the very first time I used it and it was quite a surprise to me the way that paper snatches the pigment off those pastel sticks! Wow! It really isn't my favorite paper to work with but perhaps it is because I haven't played around with it enough to feel comfortable with my layering style.

I especially love rendering black fur so this was a really fun piece even though I thought I made a huge mistake trying a paper I hadn't used before on a commission. I appreciate your description of the fur!


12-13-2015, 05:59 PM
I'm sorry for the delay in response but I lost the location of my question within Wet Canvas. What a delight to see what trouble you have gone to for the response :heart: .

I am determined to try out pastel portraits and work from home. As I am suffering with health problems, especially the daily pain in both my hands (of all places!), it will help me greatly to work in bouts. At least the steriod injections recently take the swelling down a bit for a few months. The only thing I can laugh about is that, in time, I anticipate both hands to 'close up', at least I will still be able to hold a past pencil with ease :lol:

I am so grateful. I'm going to sit down tomorrow and take in the information very carefully and carry on. I promise to take a photo and put it on in due course.

12-13-2015, 06:52 PM
This is the dog I'm talking about. 831837

I managed to shrink the file to upload. The difficulty I also have is that the hair twists and turns in ringlets.

12-14-2015, 08:17 AM
Not seeing a lot of ringlets in this photo but I see it's not far from what I sketched. Brush the ears well before painting the dog. This should reduce spaghetti strings and little ringlets. Then carefully follow the lights and darks of the ears as masses. When done add a few linear marks to detail them. But not many - if you simplify the ears thre's more focus on eyes and nose and mouth.

That's close to what I pictured actually! But brushing out those ears and then studying them does help. A corkscrew mark or two accenting is fine but shade with highlights on parts that come forward and deep shadow parts that go back. Loo at the photo of a ringlet for shading.

12-14-2015, 11:44 PM
From the pastel forum, here is a thread by D. Secor http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7326019 of a Welsh Springer. Then there is a long drawing thread on drawing fur which has spaniels in it http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6821499. A search of animal & wildlife forum for springer spaniel http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1329104 ... http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=999382 .... http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1007052

Not all the threads returned are pieces done in pastel but they may be helpful to you. Happy pastelling :)


12-15-2015, 09:50 AM
Thank you so much for all your support. I'll carefully go through all the links. Sitting here still trying out the pastels - promise I will post what I end up with. I am beginning to understand the tonal changes, as the hair falls - now trying to select the correct pencil colour (another nightmare). I note that if I select too higher tone, the pastel strokes look silly, as the tone jump is too much. I wished pastels were the same as oil paint, it is so much easier to mix my own colours.

12-17-2015, 09:15 AM
I've had a go at the fur ears - having problems with the colours but I think this is because I am restricted with what I have (the camera has made them richer though). Will keep on persevering. Thanks for all your help :)


Equus Art
12-18-2015, 07:09 AM
I think you have done an admirable job on that ear and I wouldn't get too fiddly with any more details. Let the viewer's eye interpret that this is a mass of wavy hair. There is just enough detail to be realistic, but not so fussy as to make it look like it is photo realistic. Well done!