Squirrel

Something a bit different - portrait of a squirrel ;) It was a requested drawing, for a dear friend of mine, who really likes this creatures. I used some photo as a reference but I don't have it and really can't find it, don't even know the author. If someone realizes from what photo it came from please let me know. It was a quick one, made in two evenings ;)

If something is not clear or some questions will show up I'll try to fix this tutorial. Please let me know if you spot any mistakes too.

I start with an empty sheet (100 dpi, 1200 x 1500 pixels). With large brush with low opacity I put some first colors on the painting and the most visible highlights. I plan how I want this image to look like, how do I want this little guy to look like and so on. When everything is more or less decided I sketch squirrel's face, put some first shadows on it and place eyes and nose. Just after that first attempt to make detail is made - squirrel has its eyes and you can see lights places on the face. I paint it with hard brush and high opacity, sometimes using smudge tool.

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I fix squirrel's arm as it wasn't light enough and plan some background. I wanted it to be a mossy tree but for now I'm happy with some light-green spots ;D A while later I focus on the face again, adding some fur and other details. This is when I realize how much time it will take to actually draw fur on the whole thing if I won't come up with some marvelous idea. Drawing every single hair seems to be too much pain for such a meant-to-be-quick image.

Squirrel Squirrel Squirrel

Squirrel

I decided to make a special brush to paint the fur. Hopefully it will help me to finish faster and even if it won't look great it will be a good base to start of. To add some variety to my artificial fur I often change colors and length of small lines I'm drawing. How to make this magnificent brush you can read HERE - in my tutorial about creating you own brushes in a very simple way. Fur-brush is made here as an example brush. It's really helpful and easy.

When squirrel's face is furry enough I start to paint the nut which our little one is holding tightly. I use hard brush most of the time and when I need to blend some light stroke with dark one I use smudge tool. Nut is hard and glossy so I try to draw hard edged lights to show its texture. When it's ready I spend a while sketching ears again and fixing ugly spots on the squirrel's body. I use a soft brush for that.

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On the beginning I smoothen elements of the background. I use big, soft brushes and change colors so that the background would be a bit more interesting. Big part of it will be blurred anyway, same as half of squirrel's body, to achieve a feel of depth. Next part is "furring" whole body of our model and adding some detail. All the time I draw fur with my special brush but sometimes, to avoid stiff and artificial look of the whole image I paint fur manually, especially on the edges. Paws are also drawn without any special help, just with small and hard brush.

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After all this squirrel gets its mustache (its good to paint it on separate layer - its easier to wipe it off when there is a need for that). Then I adjust lights a little with special Photoshop tools. When squirrel already has its fur using those tools doesn't destroy the image because everything is heavily textured. On smooth surfaces those tools leave ugly traces and their use is not advised.

Squirrel Squirrel Squirrel

The last thing to do is to fix ears and add some detail to them. I paint it manually and use my special brush only a little. Images below show more than I could possibly say about this stage. After this I add some more visible fur to the back and sides of my squirrel and make those areas lighter.

Squirrel Squirrel Squirrel

The only thing I need to do yet is painting the background. Moss is painted with my special brush (so handy!) ;) And image is finished!