Black Cat: Pencil to Paint mini-tutorial


If you are looking for the Life Imitates Doodles Weekly Wednesday giveaway, you can find it here. Today’s artwork was done on a Hahnemühle Cold-pressed Watercolor postcard. One of the giveaway items this week, is a tin of these postcards!

Today, my hubby took a black cat in his lunch bag.

This was done for the #Cat prompt on Doodlewash, and as usual, I combined it with something else that needed to be done, the daily postcard painting that I slip into my hubby’s lunchbag.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then cats must be the most soulful animals in the world!

The reference photo I used was courtesy of Ana_J on Pixabay.

I’ve used hnemühle cold-pressed watercolor postcard. They have a smoother texture than the rough postcards and I wanted the focus to be on the eyes. I felt heavy texture would take away from that, and chose the cold-pressed.

As usual, I did a pencil drawing. Since the shapes are fairly simple I just drew them without using the grid method. I also used a masking fluid pen to draw lines for the whiskers and fine hairs on the nose, above the eyes and along the side of the head. That’s why this scan looks bluish because the masking fluid is blue.

I chose the Pebeo Drawing Gum 0.7 mm pen, because it draws a very fine line. It’s still fairly thick for a postcard drawing, but I know that I’ll be able to soften the lines afterward. I don’t intend to leave them white, I just want to make sure they are lighter than the rest of the cat.

Originally, I had intended to go for very dark, dramatic shadows so I went with the Zebra PM-701 permanent black marker rather than the usual Zensations technical pen because it gives such a deep, dark color.

Oops! Turns out I need to get a refill for my PM-701! I got a dark, grey broken line instead of the bold black I wanted. No problem. Part of being an artist is going with the flow. I went with the medium values, only working hard to get the pupils of the eyes really dark.

Notice that I only drew about half of the pupils. The other half is lighter and I decided to paint those in.

The paints used were the Qor mini-half pan set.

First, I painted the eyes. I used a creamy mix of Cadmium Yellow Primrose, let it dry, and painted shadows with Nickel Azo Yellow, dropping in a watery mix of Transparent Pyrrole Orange for the darker areas. I finished the pupils with a mix of Payne’s Grey and Burnt Sienna.I used a Princeton Velvetouch Long Round size 6.

I painted the cat in three and a half layers. I did a wash of Ultramarine blue using a Princeton Neptune Quill brush size 4.

Once that dried, I switched back to the Velvetouch Long Round added a creamier mix of Dioxazine Purple where I wanted the darkest color – mostly over the areas shaded in earlier with the PM-701.

For the last full glaze, I used the Ultramarine Blue again, around the eyes, the top of the head, and a portion of the body to deepen the separation between the body and head.

I let it all dry and then removed the masking fluid. Sorry – meant to do another scan at this point and forgot.

The Hahnemühle postcards allow you to lift paint – that is to re-activate the dry areas and lighten the color. In what I’m considering my half-layer of coverage, I used a slightly (that slightly is important) damp brush to pick up a little color from around the white areas and move it until the white was softened into a light blue.

In the reference photo, the cat’s eye’s has a slightly glassy look. I wanted to catch a bit of that but knew from the start that it would be hard to do in a postcard sized painting. I could have used the masking fluid, but decided I’ would be easier using the white Signo Uniball gel pen. I scribbled lightly in the center of the eyes, over both eye & pupil. IMMEDIATELY, I ran my finger over the scribbled lines smoothing them out. If I had waited even a minute, the ink would have dried and I wouldn’t have been able to smooth it out.

If I had been painting at a larger size, I would have done this effect with masking fluid and softening. But the area involved is so small at 4 x 6 inches that it is very difficult to keep the area light enough. Since it’s the last thing done, I hate to paint the whole thing and then mess up the eyes at the last minute.

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