Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Make a Flat Cat, Part 2

Hi kitties, and thanks for coming back!  I hope you are thinking of what you want your flat cat to look like.  I want to assure you, you don't need any drawing talent to trace, so don't sell yourself short!  This can be a fun project and a chance to let your inner child out.

Today I am going to talk about materials.  Although I didn't laminate my Flat Cats, you may want to, and that will affect what kind of paper you'll want to use.  It should be smooth since textured papers may leave little air pockets when laminated and not look right.  That will rule out coloring with watercolors or acrylics since they require heavier, textured paper so it won't curl or pucker when painted on.

I just used cheap copier paper because my nicer papers weren't large enough and I didn't want to run to the store.  You might be able to get away with paper that is 8.5x11 (standard letterhead size), depending on your pose.  I used 11x17 paper.

For coloring, I suggest using either soft (chalk) pastels or colored pencils.  Crayons don't smear and you can't go over the first layer again.  Whatever you put down is what you are struck with.  If you decide to try pastels, don't buy oil or hard pastels, or pastel pencils.  They are not the same thing as soft pastels, and are hard to smear and work with.  They also contain oil which could stain your flat cat.

Pastels blend really well.
Biggify to see how you can get soft edges in the fur 
and sharp lines in the eyes with pastels.
We will go over these techniques later.

Make sure you have a good eraser.  The cheap pink things remove paper as well as unwanted lines.  Put fingers above and below where you want to erase so you don't crinkle the paper when erasing.  Good quality erasers are only a couple bucks and are a great investment.  I love kneaded erasers.  When they get dirty, you tear them apart and smoosh them back together to clean them.  I have fond memories of surreptitiously molding kneaded erasers into all kinds of animals under my desk in grammar school.

2 kinds of good erasers.  To the left is a kneaded eraser.
(I always have a spare.)

While you might feel more comfortable with colored pencils, give some thought to soft pastels.  They are inexpensive and fun to work with.  They do produce a lot of dust and you will need to wash your hands often.  I use the dust to smear the color around.  It produces a nice, soft fur-like finish that you can't get with any other medium.

A relatively new set of soft pastels.
Its normal for them to break as they are used.
I don't advocate this brand, its just what I had.
I would pay attention to what colors are in the set, 
try to find one with colors close to your cat if you can.
(I was disappointed with the tans in this set.)

Pastels break easily, but that is ok.  You can use the sharp edge to define small areas and the broad side to fill in large areas.  You can go over, rework and erase pastels.  Since pastels smear easily, you have to be careful not to smear areas you don't intend to.  And you will need to use a fixative when you are done.

Fixatives are notorious for changing pastels' colors.
Biggify and look at MMM's neck for large yellow patches.
The fixative did that.  
Less obvious are the white patch on her neck
and the white areas on her legs and toes.
The fixative darkened the whites so they are quite subtle.
Aside from that, notice the softness to the colors, 
look at her inner ear to see how well colors blend together.

Erasers, pastels, fixative (which I'll talk more about later) and paper, if necessary, are available in art supply or arts & crafts stores.  Tomorrow we will continue with the steps after tracing your cat.  Til then!


Summer at said...

My human loves those kneaded erasers, but it's been years since she has seen one! She has gotten so into digital that she has probably forgotten how to work with real mediums.

The Furries of Whisppy said...

Mommy has never heard of kneaded erasers. How interesting! She would clean her normal eraser by rubbing it on a clean surface. :)

Kwee Cats and Art said...

Okay, this is really cool, and our Mumsy wants to be an Are-Tist when she grows up...uh-huh...anyway, we are going back to part one and she's just gotta try this! Thank you!
Hugs to all you guys.

Pat Hatt said...

You do make it sound pretty straightforward.

Cats Herd You said...

We know all about kneading, but didn't know about kneaded erasers. How interesting!

da tabbies o trout towne said...

act shoe a lee we think mica's flat cat dee sign///color is way kewl...we couldna biggafy julie for sum reezon ???

Avalon's Garden and Mewsings of Garden Cottage Cats said...

We thinkz Julie and MMM lookz Really Cool!! ^.,^ ♥♥xoxo

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

you are just incredible!!!! Soooooo patient!

Annie Bear said...

Ah, yes, a good eraser is worth its weight in gold. I learned that a long time ago. Oh, how I've wished that I had even just a little artistic talent. Julie and MMM and Carl from yesterday look so good. You're blessed to have such talents!

The Island Cats said...

Your flats came out so good! The mom wants to know if she could just hire you to make us flat. ;)

Kitties Blue said...

We like the idea the Island Cats had! Mom has a coupled of friends who are artists, and she's hoping they will help her out. Keep up giving us these great instructions. Thanks so much. Purrs and hugs from the kitties at The Cat on My Head, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Josette

meowmeowmans said...

SO cool! Thank you again for this terrific and informative series, Mom Paula. The dad remembers those kneaded erasers, too. He was an art minor in college.



Team Tabby said...

Thank for the detailed instructions!!

Anonymous said...

That's lovely! Thank you for explaining how to do it.