Thursday, June 19, 2008

Drawing Animal Whiskers

A really good question about how to draw animal whiskers:

"Can you please let me know how to lift out whiskers on blended pencil drawings on animals? I asked at art shop and they were not really much help. I cannot get my kneaded putty eraser to lift out really fine whiskers on my animal drawings. They always end up really thick and chunky. The art shop said I just need to practise. But i have practised and practised to no avail.Could you suggest any helpful tips to help with this? I would really appreciate any advice. Thank you so much."

That's a very good question! I would use a Click Eraser (the kind of white tubular eraser), and either snip off a little from the end of it with scissors or cut off with a craft knife so that it will have an edge you can use. I can get really fine erased lines this way.

There is a link to this type of eraser on this page of my blog: Essential Pencil Portrait Supply List

See the Pentel Click's a wider eraser than the Sanford Eraser, so I think you would get a more usable edge. When you buy these (and they are refillable by the way), they have an edge, but as they are used, they lose the edge and it gets rounded over. So if you see the edge when you first get the eraser, I think it will become clear to you what I mean. As the edge of the eraser gets rounded, you can cut off a tiny bit to get the new edge again. You can use an X-Acto craft knife, scissors, or even just slice a bit of the eraser end off with your fingernail.

Another idea would be to use a kneaded rubber that has gotten sort of old and hard...that's the only way a kneaded rubber eraser would have the strength to keep its shape as it is run across the paper....

JD Hillberry of places tracing paper over the area where he wants to draw lines, like for stitching on a purse, or I suppose even for whiskers. What he does is use a hard lead pencil and press hard with the tracing paper in between the art paper and the pencil...basically to create a depression in the art paper. When you dig into the paper's surface, the graphite pencil has a hard time getting into the crevice.

He does that...but I would be nervous about trying that until you do it on some test papers you don't mess up what you have created so far. He has a book called How to Create Realistic Textures in Pencil, and it is great. Not great for a super-beginner, but I'm not sure what stage of drawing you are in...his site is great, and he taught himself everything, just by playing around!

The other thought I had was a paint that is laid over an area you want to keep very white. It works like masquing tape, but it is painted on. has Shiva Liquid Masque. You apply it to areas you want to stay white, and after it is dry you can remove it by carefully peeling or rubbing it off.

Most of the time, I've drawn (darker) whiskers just carefully using a mechanical pencil. It's important to have a relaxed hand, so what I do is to practice the movement a couple times before I actually touch the paper with the pencil tip, so I will have a confident movement and a line that goes right where I want it.

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