Three ways to draw White Hairs and Whiskers.

I use three main ways to draw my white hairs and whiskers for my pet portraits.

Sema Martin Artist - Three ways of drawing whiskers

Hi, I'm Sema Martin, a professional pet portrait artist based in Wales UK. I specialise in realistic custom colour pencil portraits of pets from photographs. I use a mixture of Faber Castell Polychromos and Caran D'ache Luminance pencils on Super Smooth Bristol Board paper to create my high-quality portraits.

Since becoming a pet portrait artist I have often been asked this question when people view my work so I thought I would write this blog post on the different techniques I have picked up and learnt for my portraits.


Papermania Embossing Tools

 Using an embossing tool for white hairs and whiskers

Using an embossing tool for white hairs and whiskers

This seems to be the most common technique I have seen other artists use to create the whiskers and white fur on any animal. By gently denting/ engraving each hair with these tools you can create areas that will be left white when you shade over the top. This doesn't work if you are using a solvent for blending since the liquid will fill in the gaps and indentations. I bought a set from Amazon and there are three tools with two different indent sizes on each which gives a total of six different sizes you can use for your art.

Link to purchase:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Papermania-3-Piece-Embossing-Tool-Beige/dp/B0039Z2SJO/ref=sr_1_1?


Gelly Roll 08 gel pen

 Using Gelly Roll gel pen to draw white hairs and whiskers

Using Gelly Roll gel pen to draw white hairs and whiskers

Some artists that use this pen for the underlayers of their portraits like to use the gel pen for highlights and whiskers. I find it very useful for very bright white areas on eye reflections or highlights on whiskers. My best advice is to use the gel pen in small amounts so it doesn't overpower your portrait, and wait until the pen is completely dry before adding shading and shadows around it.

Link to purchase:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sakura-Gelly-White-Pins-Bright/dp/B07DNBFFTN/ref=sr_1_6?


Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache

 Three main ways to draw white hairs and whiskers

Three main ways to draw white hairs and whiskers

This is definitely my go to, all time favourite technique and I have used it for many of my portraits. I usually use this paint as the final stage, after I have drawn the entire portrait with colour pencil. It is really useful to be able to add more or less water to the paint, changing the vibrancy for certain areas of the portrait. Using a very small brush and the gentle movements of my wrist, I am able to create the flicks and curves that hairs and whiskers make. Once I have painted on all whiskers and little white hairs I wait until the paint is completely dry and then shade over the top using a grey to create the shadows and making the hairs look more realistic.

Link to purchase:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winsor-Newton-Designers-Gouache-Tube/dp/B004ZHS5ZQ/ref=sr_1_3?

Don't be afraid to mix these techniques or come up with your own. Contact me if you have any more questions about my techniques and the materials used. I'd be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.