Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Colouring Tutorial for Fur using Polychromo Pencils on Kraft.

This was requested and suggested by crafty friends who would like to know how I colour fur when I use pencils on kraft card. Here is the card I made and took pictures of to show the process!

I am not a professional colourist, and do not want to replace great colouring tutorials available on line, but this is showing you my way of colouring, to hopefully give you some ideas!

So details to start with.

  • I have the standard 24 box of polychromo pencils + a few extras.
  • I always use my pencils with a sharp tip.
  • I also use a fine nibbed White Posca Paint Pen and a Uni Pin Fine Line Black Pen.
  • I am using card called Kendal Buff. It is a light smoothish kraft card.
  • I am using the image "Grumpy Bunny" from Knitty Kitty Digis Snow Scene Set Quartet.
  • I am aiming for a grey bunny!
  • I have printed him off in grey, so I can more easily colour over the lines and give him a furry look. On the same A4 sheet of card I also print off the digi in black so I can refer to it as I colour, and as gradually the image gets harder to see.

You can use other kinds of pencils. I have used the same technique with Spectrum Noir Pencils and it works OK! However it is much harder to use white over the top of other colours once the card becomes saturated using SN's. It's pretty easy with Polychromos to keep adding more layers. It was easier with Spectrum Noir Pencils to achieve a fine point on the pencil and do much finer fur, so there are advantages! I prefer polychromo's tho, for fur.

You can use other kinds of card too! I have used lots of kinds of kraft card. One of the standard card packs ,containing kraft card, has a different finish on either side. One side is actually pretty coarse. You can use the coarse side if you want, but the result is far softer and more pastel-ly looking. If the card is too smooth and shiny, it's hard to add more than a couple of layers of colour, so you might want to have an experiment with different varieties of kraft before commiting to a large pack of one type! :)

So, here goes. ( I ignore the tail to right at the end, no reason, I just forgot to include it earlier! lol)

1. I began by colouring all the non-fur elements. I am not planning on explaining how to colour hats and scarves, I am sure you can already do that! The only important point is to follow the same light source you used with your other elements when you start the fur. I have done the hat and scarf first because when I add the hair, they will be behind it. Light source is coming down from the top left. I have also done a white base layer to the areas of fur that will be pale, or have the most highlight. I also coloured the nose and inner ear with white, flesh and pink.

2. Because I am aiming for a grey bunny, and my shades will go from White to Grey to Black, I am using white to begin with. Along the far edge of every part of the bunny I add a layer of white fur. This is the furthest layer of fur in each area, the bottom most layer. (Keep your tip sharp!) So the lowest part of the foot, the edges of his belly, the underside of his arms etc. Try and follow the flow of how real fur grows on animals. Grab your nearest animal and have a look. For example, hair on the nose grows upwards, not downwards etc. If you are doing another coloured animal, you could also start with white or the palest tone/colour of the fur. Starting with white often works best on kraft card.

3. Then in rows, build up layers of individual hairs until the whole bunny is covered. Keep with the direction the hair grows, so over the belly here, I have done, four rows or white hairs, downwards. So the narrowest part of the hair is the last part of your stroke, so your strokes match the direction the hair grows. Because I have printed him in grey, I can ignore the digi outline a little and add in some hairs over the line to make him look more furry.

4. Using pale grey and then medium grey add a layer of hairs, just the same as with the white, everywhere apart from places you would like to catch the light, or remain white. Here I have left his belly, cheeks and arm highlights etc. If you are doing a creature with stripes, this is the time to add them in. Remember to keep with the flow of the hair you have already put down and use a range of lighter to darker tones in the stripe colour.
I also added in some darker hairs inside the ear, with a few upwards strokes.

5. Now with black, or your darkest shade, do a layer of hair everywhere there will be more shade, so under the scarf, belly, arms etc. Just one layer, following the flow of the hair, and over the top of the fur you have already done (in grey and white). I also added some darker hair where his eye will be to add some definition to his face. It makes more sense when you put his eye back in!

6. Add in a few fur strokes in darker colours (grey/black) to the paler areas to create some definition of a few hairs (see belly area/nose). Also add in extra white strokes to darker areas if they look too unintentionally stripy or dense.

Add hairs to the outline in dark or white depending on how well defined the edge is. If it's already well defined perhaps add more white, if less so, add some dark. I have also done this over the white area of his hat, adding some dark lines to show the fur is in front of the fluffy white rim.

On the feet, reverse the stroke process. Hold you pencil on the bottom line of the foot and do a short stroke upwards into the white hairs. This creates a sharp line at the base of the foot, darker than the hair, without interrupting the feel of the fur direction.

7. When I print out my image to colour, I also print, on the same sheet of card, a black image of the digistamp I am using so I can refer back to it at the later stages of colouring. As I have completely lost the eye and whiskers marks now, I put them back in with a black Uni Pin Fine Line pen. Wait for it to dry after, it will smudge if you go in too soon. I also tackled the bunny tail at this point, using the same techniques as with the rest of the body.

8. Add highlights with your fine nib white Posca pen, it's especially effective on the kraft card, as we can't leave white areas as we can normally when colouring on white card. I added highlights to his eye, nose, scarf and the trim on his hat.

All done! Hope you found this interesting and helpful.  Feedback much appreciated! What do you think of doing it via pictures? Is it helpful? Would it be more helpful if I did a video? Let me know :)


  1. I am def going to give this a go! Thanks for sharing your tips and techniques- he looks fantastic! Xxx

    1. Thank you!! I hope you can give it a go, let me know what you think? You don't really need a tutorial tho, your colouring is stunning! Thanks for popping by the blog too x

  2. Thanks for the lovely tutorial. I'm going to give it a go once I've got some birthday cards made.

    1. Thank you Kizzy, let me know how it goes! Thanks for popping by the blog too :) x

  3. This is awesome! It's always good to see how other artists color and create. I love this grumpy bunny! He may be grumpy but he's still quite adorable! Great tutorial with awesome results!

    1. Thank you Lea! And for popping by the blog! Much appreciated :D x

  4. your coloring is amazing!
    love it!
    love this sweet image!
    thank you for this great tutorial!

    1. Thank you Fiki! And for the idea of doing it! I learnt lots from doing this one, so think I will have another go sometime soon and make improvements! :) x

  5. Great tutorial well explained for all stages and such a fabulous effect. Love it xx

  6. This is such a great tutorial Annabel! I love how you explained everything! I have tried it and I think I followed your instructions but I definitely need more practice ;-) will post it later...
    xoxo Olga

  7. very helpfull and detailied thank you so much for explaining, have a lovely day, lots of hugs, Marion

  8. Great tutorial. You do fur very well 😊

  9. Fabulous tutorial, Annabel! I'm a bit late at getting over here because Sept. and Oct. have been so crazy. Still haven't opened my new pencils, but soon (I hope). LOL You coloring always blows me away. xxD

  10. This is an amazing tutorial and you are an amazing colorist. I have the full set of Spectrum Noir pencils and was wondering if I just purchased the Polychromos white pencil, would it color better over the SN then the white does from the SN set?

    1. Hi Mary, thanks for your lovely comments and visiting the blog :) I have both SN and Poly, and I mainly use SN on top of Poly, and don't really use them to blend each other at all. They are just sooo different. I have just consulted my friend Helen, who has tried all the pencils, and she recommends a prisma white to blend both SN and Poly, better than the poly white even, sounds like a safer investment? :)