In this lesson we will study the process of drawing a wolf. We will focus on wool, as well as touch on other aspects, including small details and background.
This lesson is based on Photoshop, but it is also applicable to other digital graphics programs.
The drawing for this tutorial was created using a graphic tablet, if there is one, I strongly recommend using it. I am sure that it is possible to draw with the mouse, only in this case, the process will require much more time and patience.
Step 1. Contour
Open a new document in Photoshop. Create a new layer above the white background. Take a solid round Brush (Brush) small and draw a clear outline of simple lines.
If you are using a scanned image, place the layer with the scanned pattern at the very top in the layers palette and set it Blend mode (Blending mode) on Multiplication (Multiply). This will allow you to add color on the bottom layer, but at the same time, still see the outline.
Step 2. Base color
Using big tough Brushes (Brush), apply the first base color on a separate layer, located under the layer with the outline. Reduce the size of the brush when painting the image around the edges.
In order to get a light fluff around the edges use the tool. Smearing/Finger (Smudge) to create strands of wool. Alternatively you can use the tool Brush (Brush) small size with hard edges and draw the hairs one by one, and you can also use these two methods.
Step 3. More colors
Select the Airbrush Pen Opacity Flow from the brush library (or another paintbrush from the Airbrush group) and start applying other colors.
Vary them, don’t use the same color. Wool wolves have different shades. Add some directional shadows, but for now, you just need to jot down them and make them fairly simple.
Note: When working with layers and applying different shades of colors, it is best to form the area within which the coloring will be carried out. Create a new layer above the base color layer, hold down the Alt key and click between the two layers in the layers panel (approx. per. between the base color layer and the new layer). The top layer will be limited to the bottom, that is, brush strokes will not go beyond the boundaries set by the “related” layer.
Step 4. Determination of wool
Make your outline invisible (or delete it) and start working with the colors you just applied. Using the same brush as before, start blending the shadows together. Use the tool Pipette (Eyedropper) , to take a sample of intermediate tones and mix them until you achieve a smooth transition. Try to use a brush with Opacity (Opacity) 100%. Use the tool Smudging / Finger (Smudge) for additional color mixing.
Use this image as a guideline to apply additional shadows and colors where necessary.
Note: When you apply colors, the orientation on the photo is very useful and can help a lot. Also keep in your mind always the image of the wolf you want to paint. Forest is a wolf, arctic, eurasian or coyote? Is its primary color gray, white, black, brown or red?
Step 5. Nose
Select the starting point of your detail. I started with the nose, because it has fairly simple shades. Use different brushes to apply a dotted nose texture. I usually use these two for almost every drawing area:
1. Airbrush Pen Opacity Flow with Minimum diameter (Minimum diameter) 0% (approx. per. This parameter can be found in the settings panel of the brush (F5) among group parameters Shape dynamics (Shape Dynamics)).
2. Round Brush (Brush) with hard edges with Pen pressure (Pen pressure) and 100% Opacity (Opacity).
Use different shades of blue and brown to determine the lighting in the image. Add a little faint light (subtle) for a more realistic effect.
Step 6. Eyes
The next step is working on the eyes. Overlay a few rough shades of colors, mark the pupil and the overall outline of the eye.
Start with a general eye shape. Dim black shades and add highlights where needed. Do not forget that the eye must have a glare and be wet, but not wet. Use medium shade of gray to add glare, but not pure white. Using many small dots, you can simultaneously define a texture.
As you complete the overall outlines of the eye, add some darker shades to the eye. Use the dark brown color at the top to connect the pupil with the upper shadows. Remember that the eye is round, shade it accordingly. You can add some other colors in order to make the eye more interesting. Finally add some highlights and translucent reflections. Don’t forget to paint some eyelashes too!
Step 7. Muzzle
Find the starting point from which to start drawing wool. I chose the area of the muzzle, because it is more removed and not in the center of anything. It also consists of finite and thin hairs, so it’s easier to start with it.
Use a hard round Brush (Brush) with Opacity (Opacity) 100%. Keep its size very small, within a radius of 3-5px, depending on the size of your document. Start drawing the hairs one by one. Keep using the tool Pipette (Eyedropper) for taking a sample of colors and varying the many shades. This is a very tedious process, and it depends on the size of your image, many of them may later be invisible, but it will add more realism to the coat.
Step 8. More wool
It is important to imagine the length and type of wool that you draw at each site. The less wool, the brighter shades need to be used; the thicker the coat, the greater the variation in color. Thick lines also set the volume of wool.
Do not be afraid to use a range of different shades. The more different shades, the more realistic the wool will look. Also add on the new layer a bit of additional strands of hair, knocked out of the general background. Not all hairs should be smoothed in one direction, especially if it is a wild wolf!
Note: Use darker shades to emphasize areas of shadow. You can also add additional colors on a separate layer and play with blending modes to add some nice effects.
Step 9. And more …
The best way to create a realistic coat is to use rather unexpected changes in color. This will add volume to the wool, since most of the hairs in the wool will be visible. Play with dark and light brush strokes and save Opacity (Opacity) brushes for 100% with hard edges. If you are unsure as a result, use separate layers, then you can easily erase those parts that have a bad effect on the overall picture.
Note: Instead of changing Opacity (Opacity) brush, try changing it Pressure (Flow). When enabled Pen pressure (Pen pressure), Pressure (Flow) will allow you to draw weaker lines if you don’t press hard on the feather, and make the wool more natural than you would change Opacity (Opacity). Try to save the settings Push (Flow) within 15-30% for best results, and periodically change the pressure on the pen.
Step 10. Detailing the edges
As you draw wool close to the edges, you can redraw the hairs on the first layer to blend them more thoroughly. Below is an example of the edges that were redrawn (in and under the ear) and the original (to the right of the ear).
This is easily done using the same small hard-edged brush. Draw and wash hairs, seeking greater naturalness. You need to draw them based on the direction in which they should be located.
Note: Not all strands are the same length, so try to vary the size. Use brush strokes of different lengths for greater realism and dynamics, also use combinations of strands of different thickness with the tool Smudging / Finger (Smudge).
Note Per .: When drawing wool using the tool Smudging / Finger (Smudge), I recommend to refer to the lesson “Puss in Boots”, where this technique is described in detail.
Step 11. Almost everything!
After a long and painful hours (in my case), you had to finish the drawing of sections with small hairs, nose and eyes. It’s time to apply longer, thicker hairs around the neck.
Note: Pay attention to how the hairs pass along the neck, they almost stick together among themselves in separate strands. These strands are thicker than those found on the face, so no need to draw them so carefully.
Step 12. Longer Wool
Up to this point, the hair around the neck has not been affected, not counting the overlay of base colors and shades. Draw more wool details where necessary. Use a hard brush, but already larger, about 5-10 px, and also set low values Push (Flow). There is no need to be too accurate, you just need to identify the main strands.
Start connecting lines together (with the tool Smudging / Finger (Smudge)) to get the effect of overlapping strands of wool. The hair on the neck and main parts of the body can be quite blurry, which makes it look softer and not clear enough.
Step 13. Final detail
Continuing to work on long hairs in the same manner, use smaller and thinner brush strokes, where necessary, and lubricate the edges. Do this until you are satisfied with the result.
Some details may require adjustments, depending on when they were drawn. Add a mustache in the nose area (very important!) And a few sparse, long strands around the eyes. Also add sparse strands of wool out of the general background to give the wolf a greater natural and wild look.
Step 14. Add background
The final touch is the addition of a nice background. Find a simple photo (either your photo or a stock photo) with colors that you think will go well with your wolf. I took a photo with a nice contrast of light and dark, as well as pretty neutral bluish-gray colors.
Blur photo with background using filter Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) (Filter (Filter) – Blur (Blur) – Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur)) with a radius that, in your view, is more suitable. For my work, I used a radius of 130px, since it is large. Make the photo blurry enough so that you can not make out the basic forms.
The final view of my layers panel. Layers are kept at a minimum, but they are enough to make adjustments. Some layers were added and merged during the drawing of the wolf.
Step 15. Final Correction
Here are the final touches that you can add to your image for final completion. I added light background lighting to my wolf because of the bright light behind.
Duplicate the blurred background layer and change the duplicate blend mode to Overlap (Overlay), Hard light (Hard light) or Soft light (Soft light) for better results. Depending on the colors of your background, you can get some nice effects.
Use Curves (Curves) (Picture (Image) – Correction (Adjustments) – Curves (Curves)) to further reduce the depth of dark and light. Move some markers, but keep it natural, do not overdo it.
Use Photo filters (Photo Filters) (Picture (Image) – Correction (Adjustments) – Photo filter (Photo Filter)) to add a soft color to the entire image. You can use warm or cold filters or play with other colors, depending on what effect you want to get.
And we are done!
After all these steps, you should enjoy the result of your drawing! If it seems to you that in some moments you need to go back and correct or add something, do not be afraid to do it. Although it is important to be painstaking in your work, adding too many details can also kill your work, so be careful.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and you learned something new from it. Please feel free to ask questions, but do not forget that there are many different ways of drawing, and each of you can find your own style. Hold on to your strengths, but also work hard on your weaknesses. Use a technique that works for you, and then you will feel more confident!