In the summer, deer fur is smooth, glossy, and warm brown. It gets thicker and dull gray as winter approaches. You will not see the hairs on animals with short fur. The cracks that are so useful in describing the pelt of long-haired animals also are less prominent.
Tricks for Short Hair
Do not draw the hairs, draw the pelt.
Concentrate on the shadows and contours of the muscles. Much of the anatomy will show through.
Add a subtle suggestion of fur texture into the contour (the line around the edge). In places where skin passes over a bump, add a few small out to in flicks to suggest small cracks in the fur. Do not overdo this technique and do not make these marks similar in size or spacing. Think “consistently inconsistent”. Study the work of William D. Berry to see this approach masterfully done.
Click on the first image to follow a step by step sideshow, detailing my process in painting the fur of the blacktail deer.
The initial linework suggests a hint of hair texture. Note that texture marks are used sparingly. Most of the outline is a smooth contour.
Using crosshatching, I add shadow and volume to the major muscle groups. I try to avoid the feeling of drawing a bunch of hairs. I am interested in the contours and planes of the body.
I now add a wash of Shadow Violet (Daniel Smith) over the lower body, envisioning how the body would look if lit from behind.
Once the shadow color was dry, I added a gray brown mixture over the top. Because the shadow color was dry, it stayed in place and did not mix with the new layer of paint.
I wanted a warmer brown so I added an additional layer of ochre on top of the body color. This approach, layering coats of paint on dried layers is called glazing. Once the paint was dry, I added a few highlights with a white prismacolor pencil, suggesting a sheen to the coat.