How to Draw a Bear: fur texture

Once you have created a solid structure that reflects the posture, proportions, and angles of the body and the major muscle groups, you are ready to draw in the details and fur texture. The secret to drawing fur is this: do not draw the hairs. That is right, if you draw a bunch of little hairs all over your critter you will miss the feeling of the pelt and get something that looks more like a dust bunny. Imagine if you were to draw a real hair at life-size. Your pencil stroke would be thicker than the hair itself! Now think of drawing a mammal from twenty feet away. How much real hair detail can you see?

How then do you draw the pelt? instead of drawing each hair, draw the cracks between clumps of hairs. The thicker and deeper the fur, the more prominent these cracks will become. Many mammals have particularly deep fur behind the thigh, along the belly, and in the front of the chest. Look for deep cracks in these areas.

Another way to suggest the fur, is to strategically add fur cracks in a few places on the outline of the animal. This is especially effective where the contour of the body changes angles sharply. Make little flicks of the pencil, heavier on the outside and flicking in. These are cracks not individual hairs. Avoid adding these marks all along the contour of the body and do not make them symmetrical either in size or spacing. Be consistently inconsistent. I learned this trick from studying the artwork of William D. Berry, the Yoda of wildlife sketching. Study his work for greater inspiration.

Let’s take a look at a step-by-step walk-through of how to draw a bear and paint its thick fur.


4 thoughts on “How to Draw a Bear: fur texture

  1. I love to paint animals, esp black bears- for whom I’m an advocate here in SC. I’ve done about 90 black bear paintings and still I found your commentary helpful. I found you by searching “how to draw rocks” for my husband, who has taken up painting recently. Your demonstration drawings and written instructions are perfect! I’ve started the video about painting song birds…beyond helpful!
    Thank you for your generosity! You’re a wonderful teacher!!!
    Nancy Oppenheimer

  2. I went to my first ever John Muir Laws workshop this Wednesday and it was amazing! Very engaging, clear, and energized! Since I paint dogs, this particular part of the class was particularly enlightening. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do cats! So fluffy, so furry.
    Thanks, teacher!

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