Three ways to draw White Hairs and Whiskers.

three ways to draw white ahirs and whiskers, sema martin pet portrait artist

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

Follow the links below for amazon.co.uk and amazon.com to buy.

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.

Follow the links below for amazon.co.uk and amazon.com to buy.

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.

Follow the links below for amazon.co.uk and amazon.com to buy.

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. Comment below if you found this useful.


pet portraits by sema martin, pet portrait artist based in UK

Welcome to my blog. Iā€™m Sema and from my little cottage in Wales I have created this series of blog posts to help other artists on their journey of becoming great! I specialise in colour pencil as a medium and have created many pet portraits for customers all over the world. You can read more about my journey by clicking the button below.