If you’ve ever drawn a cat or other animal you may be stuck on how exactly to do the whiskers.
I mean, they are white and we know we really can’t just use a white pencil to draw the whiskers over an area built up with layers of dark color. Well, we could, but it won’t show up!
That’s because as we know in colored pencil you generally have to work light to dark.
So how to draw cat whiskers, animal whiskers and other fine lines such as leaf veins will be discussed in this article, giving you practical techniques you can try today!
And these techniques will work for graphite, too!
4 Ways to Draw those Whiskers or Leaf Veins
Basically, there are 4 ways that I have used for how to draw whiskers or leaf veins. All the ways have worked for me very well. But one is my favorite! 😉
- Leave the paper white
- Impressed Line Technique
- Erase and Backfill
- Gel pen
Here is a picture of 4 leaves each having been rendered using these methods. I will be referring to this picture throughout the article.
Leave the Paper White
This is a technique that really isn’t a technique per se. It’s simply leaving the paper without color or graphite in the area where you want the fine line to be.
So in reality you are filling in the negative space around the whiskers or fine lines.
Yes, to be honest, it is tedious and somewhat difficult to do as you constantly run the risk of accidentally depositing color where you don’t want any and must always keep in mind exactly where those lines will be.
The leaf on the left shows this method.
It does have the advantage that you can start out by reserving a bigger width than you need and eventually reduce the size to a fine line. Be sure to reduce the width even more at the end to produce a taper as well.
This is virtually the safest way to produce whiskers, albeit tedious as you have to be so careful near the fine lines.
As I mentioned before, I think this method can be more difficult in that you always have to be conscious of exactly where the whiskers are in order to shape them accurately.
With the technique in the next section, you “set it and forget it”.
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Impressed Line Technique
This is a technique where a line is actually pressed or indented or embossed into the paper.
I use this fairly often to produce fine lines such as cat whiskers and leaf veins and would have to say it is my favorite.
It’s a fairly simple technique but should be practiced on scrap until you are confident and in control.
The feature picture of this blog post is of my cat also pictured here. For this study, I did use the Impressed Line Technique.
First, ideally you need a stylus. The stylus has a very fine ball on the end or one on each end, different sizes.
Whiskers and leaf veins are very thin, so a stylus works well and always delivers a consistent line; a must-have tool!
If you don’t have a stylus, they are very inexpensive and I recommend this set of styluses that come in different sizes.
(By the way, this tool and others are discussed in my article, ” 5 Best Drawing Tools” if you’d like more info.)
Or, you could also use a sharp, white colored pencil or an empty mechanical pencil for this technique as well.
If you’re using a white pencil and doing a lot of lines, you will want to keep it sharp to keep a fine line as the point will wear down as you use it.
Just be sure not to use anything sharp like the end of a paper clip or knife tip, you would most likely tear your paper!
How it works: With a softer surface underneath (a few sheets of copy paper would do), place your art paper on top of the softer surface. A softer surface underneath will help the process along since it provides “give” allowing the line to be scored into the paper.
(If you just do this on a hard surface, your lines may not be impressed enough and won’t show up well and you’ll be mad at me!).
Then, with firm pressure, simply “draw” tapered lines for the veins or whiskers where you want them to be in your subject. Be sure to do this in good lighting, because it is difficult to see.
And be sure to do this before you add color. It won’t work if you already have the color on your leaf or animal and then try to impress the line – common sense but I thought I’d mention that. 🙂
So, the magic happens when you begin adding color.
When you lay down color over the sections where the lines are – voila! – the whiskers or veins magically appear!
I know… It’s very cool! 🙂
Note, they do show up best with darker tones around them. So as you build up color or graphite, you’ll see them even more.
For leaf veins, you will want to alter the color of them from white (the color of the indentation) to a pale green (vein color) after you are done rendering the leaf or they will stick out like a sore thumb!
You do this by using a very sharp point and draw right into the groove to deposit the color. Not hard to do just need a very sharp point.
One thing, though – I can’t emphasize enough how you need to practice this technique to get comfortable with it. Just try it a bunch of times on scrap.
Then when you are ready to do it on your art surface, take your time. Really think about exactly where you want the lines – maybe even “phantom draw” it a few times before your stylus hits the paper. This is because once you have scored the paper, you can’t unscore it!
Of all the methods, this is probably the least amount of tedious work, it’s almost like impress and forget. Once the lines are in you really don’t have to think about or fuss with them. I have been doing this technique for years and really like it.
White Gel Pen
You could also draw whiskers with a white gel pen. This is an easier technique to do in my opinion as long as you don’t have a dollar store gel pen.
Make sure the ink flows well and consistently. Try on scrap paper first. Again, I recommend practicing on a swatch like I did here.
Sakura makes a white gel pen that I have and like.
The leaf on the right was done with it.
Sometimes it takes a little use of the gel pen on scrap paper first to make sure the ink is flowing well. Just like sometimes a ball point pen won’t work at first until you scribble with it for awhile.
So make sure the ink is flowing first and try a few practice lines on a swatch of color before you try it on your art paper like I did here.
I haven’t used this method much as I only recently started using the gel pen, but it really is effective.
For white whiskers, I would use a white gel pen. For leaf veins, I would choose a lighter color green because veins aren’t white.
Simply draw your lines where you want them. And it is very easy to taper the line at the end with a gel pen as well.
Again, though, just be sure exactly where you wish to place the lines, because they can be difficult to alter if you make a mistake.
Erase Then Backfull
This way is similar to leaving the paper white but the difference is you erase out the veins/whiskers after the first light colored layer. This allows you to at least “position” the lines where you want them. Much harder to do if you just try to leave paper white.
The 3rd leaf was done using this method.
I laid down a light layer of yellow green, then erased out the vein pattern using a
Tombow MONO Zero mechanical eraser (highly recommend – one of my best tools in my art box!), one of the 5 Best Drawing Tools.
This erasing method will create wider lines than you need. But then, you can “backfill” (or reduce) around the line to shape it and get the desired fineness.
This is also one of the “safest” methods as you are not altering the art surface (with impressed line) nor “painting” it with gel pen. And reducing the size of the line is relatively easy to do.
This may take some fine finessing and steady hands to shape the line to be very thin. But it can be done.
If you find impressed line and gel pen too risky and leaving the white of the paper too tedious, then this method may be your best bet.
These 4 techniques for how to draw cat whiskers and leaf veins should serve you well. Do try them out and let me know what you think.
Whatever you do, though, don’t stress over this. These methods are very workable and easy to master!
What is your favorite way to draw whiskers? – leave below in the comment section. Your email address will never be shared.
Thanks for reading….have a colorful day!