Drawing Fur in Graphite
Whatever the fur length or texture, the technique I use for drawing it is always pretty much the same. To begin with, I draw the outline of my subject, also outlining major areas of lights and darks and any markings on the fur, onto some regular cartridge paper. Once the drawing is to my liking I transfer it to my drawing surface. For graphite portraits, this is hot press watercolor paper. The one I've used here is Fabriano.
Using a 6B pencil and starting with the eyes I put down the first light layer of graphite, using small circular motions. I don't pay any attention to the direction the fur grows in, as drawing in this way should not leave any directional marks so it's not important for now as all you're doing is laying down a uniform layer of graphite. I also don't bother with any details at this point, and only block in the main tones I see. It helps to convert the photo you're working from to black and white, using photo editing software, to help you see the different tones easily.
You don't want a sharp point on your pencil for this stage. I usually draw on a scrap sheet of paper to smooth down the surface of the pencil first. Although drawing in little circles, keep your touch light so that they don't show up as such, and instead just leave a light layer of graphite on the paper.
A close up of the first layer:
The first layer:
You can see in the second picture that I've only mostly blocked in where the lightest and darkest areas are going to be, not paying too much attention to the mid tones.
Still using my 6B pencil I add the second later of graphite, starting back at the eyes and working my way out. Again, I'm still using small circular motions to draw with and applying only very light pressure. If you press too hard you will have a drawing full of tiny circles. If you want that, great! If not, keep the pressure light. Although still ignoring detail at this point, I start to pay more attention to the mid tones of the drawing.
The second layer:
In the photo above you should be able to see where I have started to include the mid tones, which has begun to give the kitten a little more shape and realism. Building up layers of graphite in this way keeps everything looking soft, whilst still defining it well enough to make for a realistic drawing.
For the third layer I start paying more attention to the smaller details, and the direction of the fur, using a 9B pencil for the darker areas. Whilst still drawing mostly in a circular motion, I begin to follow the direction the fur is growing and add the odd faint line to give the impression of the fur. This is illustrated in the two images below, with the blue lines showing where I have included a few faint pencil marks to hint at the direction of the fur growth.
The third layer:
The next layer is where I take a good look at the drawing (reverse it in a mirror, turn it upside down and so on) and correct any major mistakes I see, up the contrast and add final details. Still drawing in small circular motions, using only the 9B pencil now and applying more pressure to get the darkest tones and up the contrast of the drawing. If any areas need making lighter, I use a kneadable eraser to dab at the paper, not rub, as this will keep the softness.
The last stage is adding in the details of the fur, always drawing in the direction of the fur growth, and finally the whiskers.
If you have any questions/comments regarding this tutorial, feel free to e-mail me, email@example.com