Choose a color of velour paper that will not compete with the background color you will be using. Otherwise it will bleed through as you try to lay down your background color. Buy pre-mounted velour paper. Trying to mount it on board is difficult and might not end up being archival quality. DO NOT draw directly onto the velour paper. This type of surface is pretty unforgiving and you can’t remove a line or erase from this surface. Create your drawing on sketch paper or even on tracing paper if you prefer.
Once you’ve completed your drawing take it and a sheet of carbon paper and carefully tape it down in several places so it doesn’t shift while tracing your image. I use Sally’s Saral Wax Free Artists’ Graphite Paper. It comes as large as 18 x 24. As you transfer your drawing on the velour surface use a bright color pen so you can see where you’ve been in the transferring process.
Once you’re satisfied that you’ve traced down enough information from your drawing, remove the drawing and carbon paper and discard. Using a 9B graphite pencil, draw directly onto the velour surface going over the lines from the carbon paper. Don’t press too hard or you can scar the velour paper, but press hard enough that you can see your lines well. This will become your map throughout your painting, so you want to get all the pertinent information down to guide you.
Follow your reference photo carefully to get down all your information. I use two reference photos, one black and white and one full color. During this process, I follow along the black and white. I use reference material that is the same size as my finished piece. It’s easier for me to get it right using this process, but that is purely a preference and not mandatory.
Once I’m satisfied I have all the information I need to begin painting, I begin to outline his highlights with a white hard pastel and the dark spots with a dark pastel. Next, I begin to crosshatch color for the background. This particular painting is coming out of the shadows and has an unusually dark background. I do not just lay down black. I use one of my soft Terry Ludwig pastels and fill the background in with dark browns, reds, purples, greens – whatever intense darks will go well with the end color of the horses’ coat.
Now it’s time to take my darkest darks in the painting and begin to lay down an undercoat for the black areas of the horse. I use a dark blue or dark maroon hard pastel for this process. Again, I look for highlights and put them in at the beginning stage so they will stand out even if I lay color over it.
As I lay my darks down, I also gently crosshatch a base-coat that is consistent with the horses under coat. In this horse it almost appears to be black, so I make an even undercoat with a medium pastel, but NOT black. I used a very deep brown.
This particular horse not only has a dark background, but he’s coming out of the shadows. Part of his body is darkened, so I go ahead and add that to the basecoat. Then I choose a mid tone to his coat and cover the entire front of the horse with this color, still using a hard pastel. I should still be able to see my dark lines because remember – this is my map!
I replace the dark areas so I don’t loose my map.
I go back over the base coat using another tone to his fur. Now I’m paying attention to the contours in his muscles and the shapes and folds on his muzzle and ears. I find a color for the leather straps and start to paint them.
Now I begin to punch up his contours by bringing in the lightest colors of his coat. This is also the time to go over the blue or maroon that I used for the black areas, such as the eyes and muzzle. They really begin to pop having another color as a base coat. This is the time for the finishing touches: 1. refining the black 2. redefining the lights 3. highlights and darkening the darks.