Learn to Drawn a fox!

With Barry Whitehouse of the Artery in Banbury

A quick ‘Fox Study’ in pen and watercolour

Shopping List:

  • Hot pressed watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints in ultramarine, cadmium red, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow and yellow ochre
  • Permanent pen size 0.3
  • 2B Pencil, size 4 round brush, size 1 rigger brush
  • Putty rubber

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

With this sort of painting, everything depends on the pen work. The pen will only work well as it merely goes over the pencil lines. The colour washes are there to add depth to the already quite detailed pen drawing.

Start by lightly sketching the outline of the fox, including its eyes. Using the pen, draw a dotted line over all of the pencil lines. This helps to look more like fur when the paint is added. The pencil lines can now be rubbed out gently.

Using the pen begin the short strokes needed to create the fur – short fur around the head and nose area, but longer strokes on the chest and legs. Note the direction of the fur which grows in a similar direction on most mammals. On animals, I usually think of the nose as the centre of a clock face, the fur grows in the direction up the snout and nose and then clockwise around the right side of the face, down under the chin, continuing clockwise around the left side of the face. You can see this more clearly with the example of the tiger.  If you’re feeling nervous about adding the pen, start with very little pressure and build up the depth of lines as your confidence grows and you can see it taking shape.







Darken the pen strokes where all the black fur will be, and create more fur lines across the whole of the body. Remember though that the fox is not black, so you’re not drawing in the fur, but the shadows being cast by the fur. The contrast and tones of the painting will be held together by the pen lines, so make sure that there are some good dark areas, and other areas where there is no pen at all. When it gets painted, the areas where there is no pen will make the colour look brighter.

Mix the main fox colour by adding a little cadmium red to yellow ochre, with a small amount of cadmium yellow, this will give a good warm orange tone for the fur, use the point of the brush to flick the orange into the white fur area.

For the darker areas of orange fur, add a little of the burnt sienna (brown) and flick with the brush to create a fur effect, noting where all the darker areas are. If the brush is too thick, use the rigger or liner brush to give a finer line.

The grey fur, black fur and nose are all made of various dilutions of the same mix of ultramarine and burnt sienna (more blue than brown in the mix). The grey fur is simply shadow, and should be used sparingly and lightly to begin with, gradually building it up to a depth you are

happy with.