Here you can see I've laid down masking fluid on the whiskers. This is a latex and ammonia mixture that protects areas you don't want paint to touch. I bought a new applicator which made the fluid really lumpy, it is typically much thinner. I don't typically use masking fluid, it can be very useful but often can behave in unexpected ways. Since the raccoon's whiskers are white, I decided to try it. My apologies for the dark photos, I had just moved and was still setting up my studio.
I start by choosing which color I'm going to replace white with. In this case, I'm using Marine Blue. I start with a very light wash, because I'm going to go back and darken it later. This first layer will almost always look too dark until the other darker colors are added. When laying down your first wash, many artists prefer to lay down a thin damp layer of clean water first. This aids in paint flow, blending, and helps prevent streaky brush strokes.
The raccoon is basically three colors. Black, white, and brown. I chose Permanent Mauve to replace brown. I'm doing the same light wash with the mauve as I did before, only this time I blended the edges into the blue. My favorite way to do this is to lay down the base color, rinse my brush, and then use the clean damp edge of the brush to lightly feather the edges together. I also began layering in more Marine Blue around the mouth. Notice how the "white" doesn't look so dark anymore.
I'm now filling in the black sections with Pthalo blue. You can see how the masking fluid prevents any paint from getting to the paper beneath. Throughout the painting, I went back and added several more layers of Pthalo blue to darken this area, allowing the wash to dry each time. I kept my edges big and somewhat blocky here, because I'm going to go back and add details later.
I start blocking in big chunks of fur around the ear. Ears can be tough because they're full of fur that can go in multiple directions. Don't freak out about details at this step, you just want to get some good basic shapes. We can already tell what direction the hair is going in, and that's a good start.
I almost always paint my eyes last. Any animal with brown/gold/yellow eyes, I start by layering Quinacridone Gold. If the eyes are very bright, I'll keep the gold around the edges and layer in lots of wet yellow towards the middle. I always paint the eyelids last, because they're often black/indigo, and you don't want to pollute your golds and yellows with paint bleed if you get the dark paint wet.
I skipped forward here a bit. In the eyes, I've layered more Q Gold, and a little bit of Burnt Sienna around the edges. I also layered in several increasingly dark washes of pthalo blue in the ears. I used my medium size #6 round brush for this, to work in big tufts of dark fur, keeping the middle dark and only moving to the edges once a good bit of the paint was off my brush. This lends depth to the ear, which is concave. I used very watered down paint to add the different colors of hair behind the ears and cheeks and below the neck. Since I'm not going to paint the whole animal, I'm happy enough with just blocking in colors that suggest a direction for the fur. I used my larger #10 brush for this, and kept the angle of my brush almost parallel to the paper, so that the body, not the tip, of the brush is doing most of the work. This avoids sharp lines.
After all my paint has dried, I use a very small 3/0 size brush to paint in all the little guard hairs, including the dark purple and blue ones. For white, I use slightly watered down white gouache, NOT watercolor. Gouache (Pronounced "gwash") is similar to watercolor in that it can be rewetted, but it is much more opaque and can stand up against dark colors underneath. Don't even bother with white watercolor paint. Again, don't go too crazy with these little hairs, you don't need too many.
I skipped ahead a bit here. I've removed the masking fluid, which peels off like latex, and softened the harsh white with a little bit of marine blue. I also used indigo to paint the eyelids (last) and add the small details with the 3/0 brush. In the lightest part of the eye, I globbed on some thick cadmium yellow. I also peeled off the masking fluid on the highlight of the eye and, although it looks white, I actually colored it in with a touch of Horizon blue (sky blue) and white gouache. Around the edges, I painted in a very thin layer of indigo (especially around the top due to the shadow cast by the eyelid). This layer is very, very important for realistic looking eyes.
All done! You can clearly see how the masking fluid, once peeled, leaves clean white lines for the whiskers. I also used indigo to add the whisker spots on the muzzle, and used a light wash of indigo around the lips/nose, because the hair there is thin and most animals have black or dark skin underneath. I used a little bit of white gouache to highlight the nose as well. Good luck on your own work, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions! More tutorials to come!