Tiger on canvas


Gravity Guru
Hi all,

I actually plan to do a tiger on canvas. Both new for me, so I just wanted to have a quick check with you, so I don´t screw up on this one!

Canvas is a relatively cheap one, which I applied 2 coats of gesso on. After giving it a 24 hours to dry, I gave it a light sand with a 400 grain sandpaper and cleaned it all up afterwards.

Ok so far, or anything I missed on the prep of the canvas?

My wife came up with a different reference than I originally planned to do (the classic portrait of a tiger), as she insisted on landscape format. I know this is not making my life easier and makes it even more challenging for me (smaller head and more fur). But in principal I think it should be doable. (see attached) I plan to do the background much darker. Still green, but significantly darker.

Any issues/challenges you see with that reference?

To transfer it to the canvas, I planned to print the reference and cut out the darkest shapes and dust it on the canvas. Then with a pencil sketching the details I didn't cover with the paper stencil. The painting itself I will then do basically freehand.

I will use mainly Schmincke paint, but especially for white and black I use Molotow One4All paint and I have no idea how they behave on a canvas compared to G4 paper. From what I read scratching works fine, but erasing just limited on a canvas. But even after applying 2 layers of gesso there is still texture and it is not perfectly flat surface (which is actually how I want it to be), so I wonder how scratching will work with that texture?

I thought about not scratching at all (except maybe some highlights) and paint all the hair and detail with the AB (as Mitch did it with his leopard).

As this is 60x80cm (23,6x31,5 inch) people looking at it will be doing that from some distance, so I'm not looking for photorealism, but as this will go on a wall in my living room, it should look good and have a decent amount of details! ;)

So what would you suggest? Scratching or painting the hair with the AB?

Any other good advice for ABing on a canvas the first time?


  • tiger.jpg
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With mine, which were a bit smaller at 24"x18", I scratched with a fibre glass pen because at that size the hair is not razer blade thin. I also layered the paint. I did not paint a single hair and no white was used. Good luck.
With mine, which were a bit smaller at 24"x18", I scratched with a fibre glass pen because at that size the hair is not razer blade thin. I also layered the paint. I did not paint a single hair and no white was used. Good luck.

Did you use a 2mm or 4mm fibre glass pen? And did you have issues with the texture of the canvas? If I remember correctly you wrote it was a reused canvas, so not sure if you still had texture visible?
It was the 2mm. The gesso was put on roughly on purpose so some places some canvas was still visible and on others you could see the brush strokes.
Ok thank!

Maybe I just over complicate it and should just give it a try! :rolleyes:

But still any advice welcome!!
Nice reference, I like to use small air brush strokes when I do fur but suppliment with fibre pen or eraser pencil on small paintings. The larger the picture the less I use scratching / erasing, for this size I would hardly do any scratching excep8t for highlights where I had gotten overspray in the white area's which would be the white if the canvas.
We have one vote for scratching and one for ABing! :thumbsup:

For me there are arguments for both. I did some fur with scratching already (on paper), so I roughly know what to do and I know that I can bring it to an acceptable result. On the other hand, doing it with an AB, would be kind of new and a good exercise for me. On that size I think I would prefer the look it gets, when it is done by airbrush, but not sure if I get there... And AndreZA got pretty impressive results with scratching too!

@beanpoleuk: doing the hairs with AB, would you then do multiple layers and/or colors of hair, or just apply the base color and do the hair with white only on top of it to show some texture?
When I first started using canvas I bought a multi pack large canvases and I used one as a practice piece trying out different fur,skin,hair and paints.All methods of effects.
As I use transparents multiple fine stokes of a colour in the same area results in some sttokes gradually getting darker than others where the cross over or if you happen to go over the same line again, ghis hrlps to build up the depth . I do this for different colours to give the overall colour tone and if needed dust with a colour in some areas as I would a darker colour for shade. I try to leave 'gaps' for the white hairs and just touch these up with a fibrd pen or eraser. Takes a bit of practice but seems to work for me.