Creating Realistic Animal Rock Paintings

The rock painting trend is taking over! We’re feeling heavy nostalgia for the 90s with this trend. It’s been cropping up all over. Cities across the US are participating in the Kindness Rock Project and artists around the world are picking up rocks and adding paint. Some simply paint a quote or mandala, others paint amazingly realistic animals.

Japanese “stone artist” Akie Nakatas paints incredibly realistic animals onto rocks. She has painted cats, dogs, owls, bears and more. You can see her gorgeous work on her Instagram, Facebook and her website, but we’ve gathered a few of our favorites here. 

 

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Feeling inspired? Follow along with the tutorial below to create your own rock painting!

Creating Your Own Rock Painting: Painting a Black Cat

What you’ll need for this rock painting project: Acrylic paint, assorted stiff flat brushes, no. 4 round or flat brush, white charcoal pencil, spray acrylic sealer.

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Step 1: Choose a Rock and Sketch the Cat

Look for a rock that will fit a curled up cat pose. Scrub your rock and let it dry. You can practice drawing the pose on the rock with the white charcoal pencil. Use a large damp bush to completely cover the rock with a solid black paint. 

Once you have a clean foundation, pick the smoothest side for the cat’s face. The head should take up a little more than a third of the rock. Use the white charcoal pencil to sketch in the cat’s face and leg placement.

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Step 2: Start Adding Fur Lines

Time to start building up the fur. Select the most ragged stiff brush you have. Mix a very deep shade of gray. You can practice your strokes on newspaper before painting the rock.

Starting with the back side of the cat, create a wide strip of short strokes. Follow the curve of the legs you sketched in. Curving your strokes slightly will give the cat added dimension.

Build Up the Fur Texture

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Step 3: Detail the Head

Add a little white to the gray you’ve been using to lighten it. Switch to a thinner brush. Begin along the edges of the ears, making delicate strokes so closely spaced that they blend into one another in a continuous prickly line, creating the look of velvety texture while defining the ears. 

Work around the shape of the head with more delicate strokes but leave more space between each line. Keep adding lines of fur, following the lines of the facial structure.

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Step 4: Define the Coat

Add texture and emphasis to the sheen areas on the cat’s coat with a thin liner brush and the same light gray paint to add fur lines, beginning along the shoulder blades. Create several layers of longer, but still delicate, fur lines along the outer edges.

Add longer highlights along the top of the tail, then add shorter, denser strokes to the bottom of the tail. Don’t neglect the back of your rock!

If needed, neaten up the edge along the back leg by going back in with black on your brush.

To keep your black cat black instead of gray, you can tint the highlights. Use a large flat brush to mix up a watery tint with just enough black added to blue for a deep blue-black. Your tint should be transparent. Test it on newspaper. You should see the letters through the tint.

Use this tint to blend and soften any parts of the coat and fact that have gotten too light, but avoid the fur lines at the outside edges of the features.

Add Final Defining Details to Your Cat Rock Painting

Step 5: Paint the Eyes

Black cats can have green or orange eyes. Go with a bright amber with orange shadows. Use a small round brush to fill in both eyes with yellow, leaving a narrow outline of black. You may need two coats for good coverage.

Mix a little red and yellow paint to get bright orange. Make an inner half circle of orange that just touches the top of the eye, leaving a wider edge of yellow at the bottom. Add a trace of red along the orange circle. 

Mix a paler yellow and add a highlight along the very bottom. When the eyes are dry, add a small, oval black pupil and two small white highlights.

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Step 6: Whiskers

With black on your brush, add a cluster of dark ear whiskers to the bottom and inside edges of the ears, fanning the whiskers out from the corners.

Clean your brush and load it with white. Paint three or four long narrow whiskers, beginning at the muzzle and arching them slightly as you stroke outward beyond the head shape. If your whisker lines get too thick you can underline them with black.

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Step 7: Finishing Touches

Make sure there is still a very narrow edge of black showing around the bottom of each eye. Touch it up if needed. Look at all sides of your rock and make sure it has enough fur details for a realistic look. Apply a coat of acrylic sealer to protect the paint. If you’re painting on smooth rocks, use a matte or satin finish rather than gloss to avoid creating glare. Seal the bottom as well if you plan to display it outside.

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What will you create? Cats? Owls? A quote? Comment below and tag us in your rock painting adventures!

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