DIY Step-by-step "Rainy Season" Caracal Painting With Chalk Pastels and Velour Paper




About: I try to make the details simple and the simple detailed. I also do semi-professional pet portraiture. All of my instructables are certified parent approved.

Pastels used:
Soft pastels:
Cool grey 4
Cool grey 3
Cool grey 2
Hooker's Green
Gold Green
Leaf Green
Sky Blue
Warm Grey  
Brown Ochre   
Burnt Umber
Light Yellow
Light Flesh
Middle Phthalo Blue  

Pencil pastels:
Indigo Blue

Hard pastels:

Velour paper used:  
White 24 x 32 cm (9.4" x 12.6")      

   Hello everyone, this is my first 'ible, but, it is thorough, and I hope that you find it helpful.  Pastels and velour are a beautiful (yet expensive) combination, and the effect is amazing! I am a self-taught artist, but, I have done plenty of research on the subject. This is not the best pastel painting out there and I have yet to get as good as I'd like to be, but, hopefully this can help out those of you newer to pastel painting. Any suggestions/comments/art that you have and would like to share, please do, and I would love to see the results you get from following this instructable.  Before I get into the how-to part of this tutorial, I'm going to tell you a few things you need to know about pastels and velour paper, so sit tight and read on (if you are familiar with pastel and velour, feel free to skip to the last two paragraphs in this section).  

   Chalk Pastels are, perhaps the most lasting medium, as pastel paintings done centuries ago are still as vibrant as they were the day they were finished.  There are five types of pastel:  extra soft, soft, semi-hard, hard, and extra hard.  These can come in pencil, stick, and half-stick form (pencils are generally hard or extra hard). The color quality, durability, and color range varies from brand to brand, with Unison being one of the leading brands (and they know it), and Master's Touch being a good quality entry level choice (and a pretty good deal). There are many other brands, with prices ranging from about $9 for a cheaply made pack of 72 half-sticks (none of which are deep brown), to around $300 for a medium pack of top-of-the-line Senneliers (the list price is $64.95 for a pack of twelve).  My pastels of choice are Prismacolor Nupastels, hard pastels (about $35 for the pack of 48 sticks), Generals multi-pastel, pastel pencils (about $36 for the pack of 24), Master's Touch gray scale, soft pastels (about $6 for the twelve pack), and Faber Castell, soft pastels (about $24 for the pack of 72 half sticks).  These are great mid-level brands that are good for budding artists and professionals alike.  If you can't afford these, you can get some at your local craft store for a lot less (most higher quality brands must be ordered).  When using pastels, especially soft and extra soft pastels, be sure to use a dust or surgeon's mask (I don't like it either), gloves are also recommended.  Also, never eat while working with pastels, as they (yes, even the ones labeled 'non-toxic') are very unpleasant to ingest or inhale.  Wash your hands after and even during the process of working with pastels.  

   Velour Paper is delicate and most art supply stores do not carry it in-store.  I'd heard that this kind of paper cannot be erased on, and was crazy enough to try and found this to be only partially true.  You can only erase some of what is on the very top layer, so, if you cannot make perfect sketches every time (I can't), I'd suggest transfering a sketch from a more forgiving sheet of paper.  Velour is also, on top of everything else, expensive, so I wouldn't recommend experiments with it ($23 for ten 9x12s is a good deal, as it is normally, on a good day, around $8 a sheet).  But with all of it's drawbacks, it is the only kind of paper I know of that gives such a smooth, flowing look to anything you paint into it. If at all possible, try to get the mounted velour, because when not mounted, it can curl or ripple with age. If you cannot obtain pre-mounted velour, then you can mount it yourself with 100% rag board.  Other terms used for velour are velvet paper and suede matte board.

  Both pastels and velour pads/single sheets can be bought for almost 1/2 the list price at (most of the prices named above are based on this site).  This is where I ordered most of my pastels and all of my velour, and they arrived quickly and well packaged, but, due to their brittle nature, some of the Nupastels were broken in half or in thirds, but none were shattered beyond use.  

   The person who really inspired me to start pastel painting, is Leslie Harrison.  I am not exaggerating in the least when I say her pastel paintings look like photos.  In fact, the untrained eye could very easily mistake her art for a picture!  Her official webpage is [], you should definitely check it out, as well as her books on pastel painting.  Another person worth looking up is Roberta "Roby" Baer.  Whose speed painting demonstrations are awe-inspiring and can be watched on her YouTube channel for free.

Edit: added watermark to final result

Edit: I've got four instructables that are currently being worked on: General art Tips, DIY ''The Last Amur'' Amur Leopard drawing tutorial, a house cat in pastels, and converting Photoshop Brushes to GIMP. Please comment on which one you would like to see next!


Step 1: Setting Up and Sketching

Whew, now that I've gotten that out of the way, we can begin drawing the sketch.  I've put together a reference photo from a few pictures that I've taken/found on flicker, with GIMP (which is a free program almost equal to Photoshop. You can download it at [] ).  Flickr is a great place for finding reference photos, but be sure to use the creative commons filter while browsing, and give credit where it is due.  Credit for the caracal in my reference composite goes to Sean Garrett.  

   While some artists need reference photos purely for color and markings, I need the subject in the exact or in a similar position to what I want the subject in my drawing/painting to be in.  Hopefully sooner or later I'll get past this, but for now, that is how I do things.  

   Remember to make sure you have sufficient lighting (preferably white, daylight light) before you begin your sketch on a different sheet of paper than the velour you will be using later on (I used sketch paper, but copy paper is just as good).  After you complete the sketch, transfer the sketch using graphite paper, which is somewhat inexpensive and can be found in art supply stores like Hobby Lobby, or can be made using the back of your sketch or copy paper and a 6B or 8B pencil.  I had to transfer my sketch to another piece of sketch paper before putting it on the velour, because the paper I'd done my original sketch on was smaller than the desired size.  

   The way that I do sketches is different from the way most other people do them.  I do not use basic shapes in my sketches because it usually ends up distorted and out of proportion, so I just start with a simpler part of the body or an ear and go from there, using a ruler or my fingers as a guide.  If you can't do this, then don't think that you cannot use the basic shapes method, everyone does things a little bit - or a lot - differently.

Step 2: Undercoat and Base Colors

   Now that I have the sketch in place, I put down the undercoat.  Use wide strokes going in the direction of the fur on the caracal using the edge - but not the sharp corner - of the pastel. Put the background in using either the edge or the long side of the pastel.  The caracal's undercoat is Cool Grey 4.  Start the clouds with Cool Grey 2, then overlay them with Sky Blue. The field is Gold Green and the distant trees are Hooker's Green overlayed with Black.  At this point, only use soft pastels, unless your sketch starts fading, if it is, use a Black hard pastel or pastel pencil to lightly redraw the lines. Use a tortillon or blending stump to 'blur' the background.  

  Once we finish the undercoat, we can add some color to the caracal.  I begin with going over all of the areas that are to be Brown with Warm Grey, and add some Brown Ochre and Light Flesh to the more saturated areas, some Black to the darker areas, and some White to the lighter areas, like before, with the edge of the soft pastels.  Then use Green, Indigo Blue, Beige, White, and Black, pencil pastels in the order that they appear for the eyes, working around the pupil with short lines. Use the Indigo blue and White for the veins in the eyes.

Step 3: Begin Adding Details

  Next I start to add in the fur with a gold pastel pencil.  Flick your wrist in short, quick, motions to portray the fur.  Go over this with Brown.  Add Black and White as needed.  Be sure to go in the direction that the fur grows and not to make it too long.  Also, color in the nose with a Middle Phthalo Blue soft pastel.

Step 4: More Detailing

   Next, add layers of Scarlett, Beige, and Grey, to the Brown fur with pastel pencils, then go over it with a White hard pastel, adding more to the lighter areas and less to the darker areas.  Also enhance the ear fur.  Color the nose with Black and three layers of Pink for the the patch. Give the nose highlights and enhance the catch lights in the eyes. Darken the Black area around where the whiskers will be as well.

Step 5: Touching Up

   Add some lines radiating around the pupil in Yellow pastel pencil; then, add some Light Blue hard pastel, Sky Blue soft pastel, and Cool Grey 3, to the dark areas of the clouds.  This may sound a little odd for those of you new to pastel, but next, add Violet and Sanguine pastel pencil to the brown areas of the caracal.  This gives it a cooler tone that is much more appealing to the eye.  Add whiskers using black and white hard pastels. Add a touch of Sanguine and Beige to the edges of the pupil.  Enhance the nose with another layer of Pink over the patch and some Blue on the more Black areas.  You can run over the field one more time with Gold Green as well. As a last minute decision, I also decided to use a Cool Grey 2 to make sheets of rain in the distance.

Step 6: Final Touches(almost)

  We are almost done!  Darken the inner ear and lighten the ear fur as necessary.  Add more contrast to the ear tufts using Black and White, and darken the nose slightly, replacing any lost highlights as you go.  Add two trees in the distance with quick, spiral motions for the leaves and a few quick, straight or slightly slanted, strokes for the trunks using Hooker's Green, Black, and Leaf Green soft pastels for the leaves, and Nougat soft pastel for the trunk.  Enhance the veins in the eyes with White and Indigo Blue pencil pastels.  To finish off the effect, use Gold Green as a base for the foreground grass, and accent with Burnt Umber, and Light Yellow, soft pastels, and use a Golden pastel pencil to add the final, more detailed, highlights in the grass. 'Blur' the blades with a tortillon or blending stump.

Step 7: Last Minute Detailing

   About a week after 'completing'  my painting, I remembered a cool technique that I'd found somewhere.  With black and white in both pencil and soft pastel make quick, short strokes on the caracal, most notably on the muzzle and on the chest around the white patch, using thicker strokes around the edges of the painting to make them appear blurred out.  Doing this adds depth and feeling to to picture while adding a punch of extra realism as well.  Sign your name with the pencil pastel or hard pastel of your choice, spray with a fixative if you want (always do this outside, and be careful not to spray too much, as fixatives can darken and/or desaturate your painting), frame, and you're done!  Sit back and enjoy, and while your at it, you can take a picture of it under good light and show off your work under comments!



    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Arduino Contest 2019

      Arduino Contest 2019
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    11 Discussions


    3 years ago


    Thank you! When I finish it, I will be doing an instructable for drawing two tigers with colored pencil (my new fave medium). Sooner than that, maybe even some time today, I'll be publishing an 'ible on drawing a (sort of) manga dog on GIMP. And don't worry, it won't be the dog I was talking about in my 'how to draw a dog/puppy simplified' 'ible, that one will be a hyper-realism of a Pomeranian. :-)


    4 years ago

    Hi aartcritic that is wonderful art work. Thank for the instructable.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago

    Hi, thank you for commenting! I really don't need to enter any contests... this tutorial and those that will follow are meant to be functional, not competitive. I don't like giving out my address even though I know that the admins won't misuse it or hand it out and I don't have any use for any of the prizes either. I do appreciate that y'all think it is contest worthy though! If you feel like voting, then you can vote for which of these tutorials you'd like to see from me next: a cookie recipe, a manga tutorial, an artistic photography tutorial, a graphite pencil tutorial, or another chalk pastel tutorial. I can also do a general art tips instructable.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I've been planning a pencil drawing of an Amur Leopard(my favorite big cat). I can begin making a tutorial out of that once I decide on the composition. Cats are my favorite animal, so most of my art instructables will be about cats, but, there should be some about other animals as well (you can expect a few dog/wolf 'ibles and maybe a horse one as well).

    I'd love to see some other people voting if it's not too much to ask! Remember, even though this is my tutorial, any result you get from following this is your own, no credit is necessary, but please do give credit to Sean Garrett for the ref.