A beautiful white tiger study. I painted this to practice fur which was quite a fun challenge. You can buy this print at my *Redbubble shop.
White tigers have got to be one of my favourite big cats of the animal kingdom, well, tigers in general really. They are big powerful felines with soft kitten-like tendencies – I still wouldn’t want to cuddle one though.
This painting was mostly to practice short fur since I struggle quite a bit with fur and also the use of white which is surprisingly hard to work with.
As with many study sketches I do, start with a canvas of 1000 x 1000 pixels and fill the background layer with a light grey colour – for me, this just feels more natural and easier to see.
With the background sorted start with a base sketch to map out the features of the tiger – don’t worry about being neat, you can always sketch over it later.
Their white coat is caused by a lack of the pigment pheomelanin which is found in Bengal tigers.
The Finer Details
Next, draw over the base sketch to form the most detailed parts of the tiger. We don’t need all details, just enough to give the tiger its form so that it is clear where the main features of the tiger are; such as the stripe placement and eyes.
I don’t tend to spend too much time here because I re-visit details as I go along but, feel free to spend as much time as you need; every artist is different.
White tigers, or white Bengal tigers, actually tend to grow a lot faster than the common Bengal tiger. They are a lot heavier too.
The next stage is to lightly shade the image to give an idea of where the light and shadows will be and then build on what we have painted. Use your artist instinct here for how far you need to paint. It’s always a good idea to keep layers separated until you are sure they can be merged together. Here I kept the sketch, shaded layers and details of the fur separated and merged layers as I worked.
The stripes of all tigers are like fingerprints in that no two are the same. So no worries about your strip placement when you’re painting these beautiful creatures.
Moving on to the Fur
And finally, the most time is spent painting all that lovely fur. I also added a bit of blue/purple to the right-hand side of the tiger’s face and body. This was to achieve a reflected light source from the moon.
When painting fur keep in mind that not every strand is visible, a lot of fur clumps together and we can only really see the individual pieces when they overlap another colour or shade or when stands stick out from the main clump such as with this tiger, the whiskers and fur on the side of the face.
Fur also changes colour based on the light shining behind, in front of or any angle for that matter. An example of this is the sun shining behind a creature. It helps to study fur in different lights to get a feel for the changing colours and what they do to the fur.
For the final image, I lightened the fur since it wasn’t looking enough like a white tiger in my opinion. All I did to achieve this was to lower the opacity of the shaded layer.
As this was a study sketch I didn’t add a background but I think next time I paint a tiger I may add a smokey effect to it to add some drama. I also would take the eyes further and make them the central focus by giving them a slight glow coming from the back of the eye to give the image a sense of the tiger being in the dark.
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