View Full Version : Animal Whiskers?

12-30-2008, 05:15 AM
I am working on a drawing which I will transfer to paper soon so I can do a dog's portrait with Colored Pencils. Before I start I want to get some advice on the fine white whiskers which, in any other medium I would add last.

How on earth do you achieve clear, fine lines? I cannot imagine white CP going over the darker colors of the dog's coat.

I read somewhere on this forum once that someone had finished just the whiskers using a white ink. Can anyone tell me what brand would be suitable and which would lay down well over Prismacolors?

Many thanks for help of any kind!

12-30-2008, 06:10 AM
I'm not sure about ink...but I know that some people have used acrylic paint to do the whiskers. Also, you could impress the lines for the whiskers, so that they are indented. All the darker colors will go right over them, and then you can use a fine point on the white pencil to fill in the indent in the end. :)

12-30-2008, 07:09 AM
In graphite, which is all I know, there are two main ways to do whiskers. One is to indent the paper so the pencil does not color it as it passes over, the other is to do negative drawing which is simply to draw around the white space. Another technique with graphite is to erase and re-draw the whiskers last. Not sure that would work with CP though.

12-30-2008, 07:17 AM
Hi, Ann!

I know lots of folks use the impression method. As well as touching up with white acrylic paint. I know some folks have used white gel pens, too. And then the *really* brave have used x-acto knives to carve out fine hairs and whiskers! Practice bits and test swatches are going to be really important. I'd try several methods on test bits, and decide which works best for you.

Hope you'll share what you're working on!


12-30-2008, 03:01 PM

My CP paintings are always of animals so my way of doing whiskers is right at the end I use an eraser I have cut into a piont and carefully erase the lines. I go for an defined sweep as too much faffing around with erasing and you get channels of white and not fine lines.

I use an battery operated eraser mainly but this does take some practice and a steady hand! The effect can be achieved by a normal block eraser as well. Obviously this is only if they are white whiskers :heart:
Hope that helps x

Lady Carol
12-30-2008, 04:24 PM
A very knowledgeable birdie in this forum, whispered to me a little while ago, to use white gouache for whiskers.

12-30-2008, 05:28 PM
I've had some good fortune using an electric eraser and an erasing shield as a guide. Using this method, some advance planning is a good idea. Erasing works best if you try not to saturate too heavily in the area of the whisker. You can go back in after erasing and work carefully around the created whisker with colour. Try using a practice sheet beforehand to get the technique down tho.

Good luck with this. Whiskers are always a bit tricky. :wink2:

12-30-2008, 06:23 PM
I also use an electrik eraser. But there is another way for whiskers:
You have to take a needle. Not a sharp one, one with a blunt point! With this
you mark the whiskers on the paper. So the hollows the needle make leave the whiskers white. I have not tried it by myself, but I have got this tip from
a very good animal artist, so I am sure it will work.
Greetings, Iris

steph G
12-30-2008, 06:33 PM
White gel pen! Its magic. Theres some on my site with pronounced whiskers and highlights in the eyes where I used it. Watercolour direct from the tube works too.
If you want 100% CP though (I have to if I want to submit to the UKCPS) I use a V. sharp white coloursoft. It seems to show up over anything, as does my Derwent W.colour pencils.

12-30-2008, 09:45 PM
You can use ink.
I would impress them.
Take a sheet of paper and lay it over your drawing. Then with a pencil or pen draw in the whiskers. Make sure you press hard. When you colour you can go right over it because the paper has been pressed in and then you have your perfect whiskers.

12-31-2008, 12:52 AM
This is what I love so much about WC! Thank you each and every one for the great advice. I plan to experiment with all the methods you have suggested before adding the whiskers to the actual portrait. I work pretty slowly so I'm a ways off from that stage, but wanted to get this figured out before putting pencil to paper!

A happy and most successful New Year to you all!

12-31-2008, 08:31 AM
Ann, another variation of what has been offered. Establish your whiskers early, impress as dicussed before by others(fill with white), then at the end when you are ready for the details go back over the whiskers with a scraper(caligraph pen?/other sharp object) to remove fur colors from the reserved area and rework with the sharpest cp you can get. works well. Good luck and let us know what works best for you. Rick

12-31-2008, 05:35 PM
I add them last, I use a very very sharp white prismacolor and just whoosh them in. I don't want them to be the focal point anyway, and I refine my loose drawing as I go so impressing wouldnt work for me.

Keep in mind that not all whiskers are snow white, though.

12-31-2008, 11:53 PM
Thanks Rick and Robin! All good advice and I'm excited to get started on this piece. I will let you know how it progresses!

01-01-2009, 05:43 PM
Ann, almost every way imaginable to do whiskers has already been mentioned, except for waiting until the end, then take a needle or pin and [I]scratch] the whiskers in, by "swooshing" as Robin said. It worked well for very fine whiskers on one of my dog portraits that I did. The scratching goes through the layers of cp and leaves the paper showing just barely.

Most of the time, I use the indentation method, though.

I didn't put any whiskers on the collie I just finished....I didn't see any in the reference, so I didn't give it a thought. Do all dogs have whiskers?


01-01-2009, 05:50 PM
Ya know Char, now that you mention it, I've never noticed whiskers on dogs. hmmmm that's kinda funny.:confused:

01-01-2009, 06:17 PM
Lol, Char! I can't speak for all dogs of course, but every pooch I've ever met has 'em! They are nature's way of protecting delicate muzzles ..... act like little sensors. If you are far enough away such as in doing a full body painting, chances are you wouldn't see them.

Mrs. Leadhead
01-01-2009, 10:05 PM
Hi, Ann- My friend Mary Hobbs is an excellent portrait artist, specializing in children's and pet portraits. She said that she makes her line impressions for whiskers and white feathers by impressing with a very sharp knitting needle! (She did a stunning white egret in my September class, with fine white feathers that were very distinct against a dark watery-looking background.)
When I do line impressions, I use a very hard, very sharp 9H pencil and impress the lines through a translucent drafting vellum (by the Borden & Riley Company) called Sheer Trace. It's heavier than tracing paper, and even the 9H graphite pencil doesn't rip it.
Sometimes, too, I use a very fine-pointed stylus for making line impressions.
Happy New Year!
Kristy Kutch

01-01-2009, 11:11 PM
Thank you Kristy! What an honor ~ just a few weeks ago I bought your book! I googled Mary Hobbs and enjoyed her beautiful portraits.

An avid knitter, I have every size needle imaginable so really appreciate that tip!

01-02-2009, 03:48 AM
You have gotten already a load of tips, just one more here. Its one that I have found myself, because I wasnt really happy with impression, since sometimes I am working with heavy pressure on my pencils and the color does come on the impressed lines (and these lines are really hard, almost impossible to erase) I tried to paint the lines also, but somehow thıs didnt work for me either. So what I did is use a white caran d'ache watersolluble neocolor II and it kinda lays over the cp, depending on how much pressure you use of course.

01-02-2009, 05:52 AM
Yep all dogs have! Most of them have black or darkbrown whiskers though, so it doesn´t stand out. Most probably the case on your collie.