Painting the Caracal

I can’t believe the Zooly Art Challenge is over! A month of drawing and painting animals was great fun, despite missing out on some due to my adventures with my eyes (which are doing fine now). One of the animals towards the end of the challenge was the elegant Caracal, a solitary, secretive cat of Africa, the Middle East, India, and Central Asia, which was religiously significant to the Ancient Egyptians. They were also used as hunting cats in civilizations all over their territory, and were a favoured gift of emperors in medieval China.

I only remembered to get my camera out after I had inked this, as I liked how it was shaping up, and decided to document it. Apologies for the lighting; it was night-time and these were taken under my work lights, which resulted in a bit of unevenness. All watercolours are by Daniel Smith company, and I’ve linked each one so you can see the pure colours if you like.


I sketched this in brown pencil, referring to several picture I found on the internet (thus it doesn’t look like any one of them exactly). I inked it with my trusty Pentel Brush Pen, because I was wanting to get back to a more comic-y look after all those loose watercolour paintings, and because the caracal has such striking black markings. The dry-brush effect was done using one of my two brush pens that is running out of ink. Gotta use it all up!


This colour layer is Daniel Smith’s Quinacridone gold, a beautiful transparent colour which I use a lot for a warm undertone. The ink from the Pentel brush pen is permanent and waterproof, so I don’t have to worry about it running.


I started using some Burnt Sienna for the darker areas, but found it too red and a bit dull for this cat; I switched to Quinacridone Burnt Orange and found that much more to my liking. I added a bit of Permanent Alizarin to the ears for the first colour layer. I also added some Buff Titanium to the cat’s lighter parts.


I went over the pink of the ears with some more of the Quinacridone Burnt Orange, and darkened up the coat with the same, adding some of the more subtle face markings. The eyes are Olive Green with just a touch of Sap Green.


Some beads to complete the collar, in Permanent Red, and the green is actually Cerulean Blue, which mixed with the gold. I added a bit of Payne’s Grey mixed with a bit of Indigo on the muzzle and ears. It’s not a big painting, only about 6×9 inches, and took about an hour.

The best part about painting this lovely lady is that she has provided me with a mental model for a new character in the upcoming chapter of The Quadra Cats webcomic — I needed a sassy, exotic looking alien cat to staff the desk at the Feline Federation headquarters, and she’s just what I was looking for!

Thanks for reading — and if you like the idea of an animal-themed drawing challenge, but missed out on the Zooly daily challenge in July, we’ve decided to continue with the Zooly Weekly Art Challenge facebook group — you’re welcome to join us!

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