Tubby Cat Painting Tutorial
Animal Painting Tips and Techniques, Classical Style Oil Painting

Easy Tabby Cat Painting Tutorial – Step-by-Step Lesson

In this tabby cat painting tutorial, I will guide you step-by-step on how I paint a tabby cat. I’ll take you through the process of how to draw a cat’s head and features, then I’ll walk you through the underpainting stage, blocking in the cat with color, and finally, applying the final layers wet-into-wet to create painterly and realistic looking tabby cat fur.

The colors you will need for this painting include:
1. Titanium White
2. Yellow Ochre
3. Gold Ochre
4. Burnt Sienna
5. Burnt Umber
6. Venetian Red
7. Alizarin Permanent
8. Van Dyke Brown
9. Ultramarine Blue
10. Chromium Oxide Green

Step 1: Toning the Canvas

Toning the canvas

The first thing I do is prepare the surface with a colored ground. For this, I am going to use Gold Ochre to create a warm brown. I generously dilute the paint with solvent and apply the paint very thinly and translucently so that the white of the canvas still glows through this layer. This light wash will create inner warmth to the entire painting.

Step 2: Drawing The Cat’s Head and Features

Drawing a tubby Cat

After the toned ground is touch dry, I start sketching in the cat’s head and features using a No 2/0 pointed round bristle brush. For this stage I used Gold Ochre diluted with solvent.

I start drawing the tabby cat by making a horizontal oval shape for the head, I then divide the oval shape in half with a horizontal line and this is the “eye duct” line. I Then create a vertical centerline to align the nose and mouth. I also divide the oval shape into thirds to find the placement of the ears and the pupils of the cat’s eyes. With the cat’s pupils in place, I mark the cat’s eye ducts and eye width using the horizontal centerline. I continue to outline the cat’s features including the nose, mouth and lay in the body without adding much detail to the drawing.

Step 3: Underpainting Stage

Tubby Cat Underpainting

After the initial outline of the cat, I start adding some tone, this will help me refine my drawing and start creating some volume and substance to the forms. For this stage I mix Gold Ochre with a little bit of the Chrome oxide green to create a neutral brown color.

This initial layer is known as “dead coloring” or underpainting, and it was a fundamental step during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The purpose of this stage is to model the forms and establish your darks and lights without having to worry about color. For this stage I am using a little bit of solvent without any oil to keep this layer thin and follow the “fat over lean” rule.

Step 4: First Painting (Blocking-In Stage)

Tubby Cat color blocking in

After the underpainting is touch dry, I start applying my layers of color. The purpose of the “first painting” or “blocking-in” stage is to lay down the general colors, values and create a pleasing and harmonious color scheme without having to worry about the details and highlights. In this stage I keep my values compressed and I use low chroma colors and mixtures.

Step 5: Painting Tabby Cat Fur Wet-Into-Wet

Painting Tubby Cat fur

Once I have finished blocking in my painting, I just have a look at the whole thing and I just want to be sure that everything in the painting is working… the color harmony, the values, and this just serves me as a map or base to work from, that I can begin building up the cat’s fur.

I am using more oil with my medium in this stage and I’m going to be painting using the Wet-into-Wet technique, meaning painting directly on top of wet paint. This technique will allow me to blend my strokes with one another and create soft transitions and painterly effects for the cat’s fur.

I use a long filbert brush to paint the tabby cat’s fur. These brushes are really great to use because I can use the broad end of the brush to create clumps of hair and create thicker brush marks… or I can use the rounded edge for finer brush marks and add the illusion of individual hairs. To create soft fur, I just touch the end of the brush to the painting surface… and drag the paint through the wet underlayers. I paint the tabby cat’s stripes by its eyes and across its cheeks with warmer and darker tonal values blending Wet-into-Wet to create soft fur.

One essential tip on painting realistic-looking fur on a tabby cat (or other animals) is to paint the hair in the direction in which they grow. So for each stroke I make with the brush… I am paying close attention to the direction and length of the tabby cat’s hair.

Step 6: Tabby Cat Final Details and Highlights

Tubby Cat final details

Now when it came to finishing up the painting, this is where I save my lightest values until the very end. So working on the fur, I just add a few fine highlights representing individual hairs here and there. Painting wet-into-wet, I softly add these highlights with my long filbert brush. I finish off the painting by adding my final details including the cat’s whiskers.

Thank you for taking the time to read this tabby cat painting tutorial blog post. Feel free to share with friends. Check out the video below that accompanies this blog post.

I hope this article about the 3 tips for landscape painting was helpful. Please comment below!

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