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How to shade fur using markers

By Chameleon Art Products
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Fur-get about using 15 different markers to shade (sorry). It doesn't matter if you're chasing a cartoon effect or one that looks so realistic it looks as if the animal will jump off the paper. With the right tools and the right technique, you can easily achieve what artist Dave Antram has with Violet the Bear, below. Here's how to shade fur using markers.

Don't panic. It might look a little overwhelming, but we'll take you step by step on how Dave got those results. Be sure to share your efforts with us on #ChameleonPens and become part of the Chameleon Creative Community.

So, let's get started.

Which Chameleon Pens you'll need:

  • BR5 Bark
  • BR2 Hot Cocoa
  • BK4 Deep Black
  • PR4 Purple Grape
  • CG8 Cool Gray


Pick the light source & fuse with the Mixing Chamber


light sourcefusing time 

The most important first step happens before you even use your Chameleon Pen. First, pick the light source and stick to it. The closer you are to the source, the lighter you'll want your colors to appear. 

You want to start with a translucent color and work your way towards the darkest color. So, grab your BR5 Chameleon Pen, hold it vertically and infuse the Bullet Nib with the Mixing Chamber for 20 seconds. And just so you have a rough idea of what the colors will look like depending on the infusion time...

tonal chambertonal chamber


Work away from light source in circular motions

work in circular motions


Starting from the area on the face closest to the light source, begin making circular motions.

The ink will appear at its most translucent as you begin shading. But as you work across the page, the color will gradually darken until it returns to its original shade. 

It's important that you're keeping the pen moving at all times. Don't worry about the white gaps you'll leave - you'll be layering over the gap with another color to get that cartoon fur effect. Once you're done with Violet's face, you should have something that looks like this...


violet fur technique


Fuse & repeat on the ears


violet ear technique


For the cartoon fur effect, the fur is going to look exactly the same on the ears as it will on the face and body.

That means that whole process needs to be repeated again. The only difference this time is that the ears are a smaller area to cover. Infuse the nib with the Mixing Chamber for only 10 seconds this time before coloring the circular motions from left to right.

Again, keep the pen moving at all times when making the circular motions. Just pretend you're shading tiny Cheerios.


Shading the bottom half of the face


shading technique

Just because Violet is a cartoon doesn't mean we won't make her fur look realistic. This time, you need to pick a lighter color than you chose for the face and outer ears. So, take your BR2 pen. 

You'll have to fuse the Bullet Nib with the Mixing Chamber again, but for 15 seconds while maintaining the circular motion from the left to the right. Once you've done that, you'll have Violet looking like she's been digging the bottom half of her face in a jar of Nutella...or that she has a 5 o'clock shadow.

Repeat that again, but this time for the inside of the ears. As it's a smaller area, you need to fuse the nib with the Mixing Chamber for 10 seconds and add a little shadow in the left ear to add depth.


Flip the pen & ditch the circular motion

new fur technique

Grab your BR2 Chameleon Pen and turn it the other way round so you're using the Brush Nib instead.

Fuse the nib with the Mixing Chamber for 10 seconds but this time, you're not creating circular motions. 

Head back to the top half of Violet's face and in a nice, smooth action you want to shade side to side, moving towards the right side of the face as the color becomes more saturated. Remember, use the same color here as you did in the previous step.

You then need to repeat that process again. Fuse the nib with the Mixing Chamber for 10 seconds, and then move over to the ears and shade side by side in smooth transitions. You'll have something like this:

violet the bear fur technique


Add more shading fur (for) realism. Sorry, again


shadow techniques


To add more shading to the bear, switch back to the Bullet Nib and create a cast shadow under the nose.

Time for the third Chameleon Pen, and you want something dark - like BK4 - to focus on the nose itself. Fuse the Bullet Nib with the Mixing Chamber for 10 seconds then start in the middle of the nose and color outwards in a circular shape until you reach the edge. 

On the right side, hover over a little more so you add more depth which looks more realistic when you take the light source into consideration.

For the bow, pick any color you want (we used PR4) and fuse the Bullet Nib for 10 seconds. Shade both sides of the bow side to side from light to dark. When you're at the middle of the bow, use the exact same technique used for the nose. Circle motions from the middle and circling your way towards the edge.

Finally, use CG8 to add some more shadows on the nose and BR5 for under the left ear and under the bow for added realism with the light source.


Repeat technique on the body

shading fur

There you have it! That's all you need to know when shading fur using a marker. Obviously, you need to finish the rest of the drawing off, so just repeat the entire process again.

  • Fuse and create circular motions from the light source.
  • Using the same color and the Bullet Nib, shade side to side over the body. Make it easier and work from section to section.
  • Add shadows where necessary - away from the light source.
  • On the small bear, pick a completely different color and repeat the same technique as you did on Violet.

Want something more... grizzly?

Creating cartoon fur isn't the only effect, but it's certainly one that looks impressive.

One of the reasons our pens are so popular is because they allow you to get truly unique results.

Check out the video below to see Nick Kakanis' take on a grizzly bear - where he used only five Chameleon Pens. Using long strokes and careful layers, Nick did a great job of creating realistic individual fur strands. 



If bears aren't your thing and you feel like taking on a bigger challenge in the form of a tiger, check out Tyler Goodrum's incredible piece. Using the five colors from our Warm Tones Set, Tyler uses long strokes along with clever highlighting and blending to create a realistic look of fur. Visit Tyler's Instagram account to see more of his work.



Keep the tips and tutorials heading your way

The Chameleon team are working hard on a fantastic downloadable guide that's filled with useful tips, inspiration and templates for you to try at home. Sign up to our mailing list so we can let you know when this creative guide is ready and we will also send you exclusive tutorial and tips from our favorite artists, every month.


Tags: shading, Textures

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