Snow Leopard Tutorial

Snow Leopard Complete

Spectrum Noir regular Liara Crane shows you how to re-create this beautiful snow leopard with our brush-tipped Illustrator marker. You’ll find more of Liara’s work on our gallery pages, be sure to take a look.

You can also visit her website here:

www.liarakcrane.co.uk 


Snow Leopard Stage 1

Stage One

Start by blending the colours under the spots. Blending works best when the two colours you want to blend are wet (working wet on wet) so work fast. Start by applying some Eggshell (FS8). You don’t have to worry about being too precise and accurate when shading fur as it is a rough, natural surface. We are going to shade our snow leopard by building up layers of colour, starting from light to dark. Because of this you don’t have to worry about going over the dark spots with the Eggshell as we will cover those later with a darker colour.


Snow Leopard Stage 2

Stage Two

You can achieve darker shades of a colour by layering the same colour on top of itself. Use this blending technique to darken areas of Eggshell around the jawline, neck and mouth. Start to add a little Ice Grey 2 (IG2) along the nose bridge and eyebrows, and a little Caramel (GB2) to darken the Eggshell further in areas such as along the cheekbone.


Snow Leopard Stage 3

Stage Three

Use the Ice Grey 2 to mark out the spots and areas of shadow in and behind the ear as well as around the eye, nose and mouth. Remember that the outlines are a guide as to the placement of the spots, and don’t worry about filling in the shapes. Use short, swift strokes of the marker’s brush nib to mark out the spots and areas of shadow, remembering to have your marks follow the direction of the fur. 

Layer the Ice Grey 2, Eggshell and Caramel over themselves and each other to deepen shadows and add form to the face.


Snow Leopard Stage 4

Stage Four

Use the fine nib of Green Grey 5 (GG5) to add further depth to the darkest parts of the snow leopard.


Snow Leopard Stage 5

Stage Five

Grab some Greys (Ice Grey 2 - IG2, Blue Grey 1 - BGR1, and Brown Grey 2 - BG2) and work over the top of the spots and areas of shadow to soften the transition between the dark Green Grey 5 and the Eggshell. Use those Greys to further add form and shadow to areas such as the cheekbone, nose, mouth, eyebrows and ears. 


Snow Leopard Stage 6

Stage Six

Add colour to the nose with Muted Brown (MB1) and use the Greys to blend it around the nostril. Carefully add colour to the eye using Chartreuse (LG1) and build up shadow using the Caramel and Olive Green (YG2). Focus on adding shadow around where the pupil will be, below the eyelid, and around the outside of the eyeball. Make sure to leave an area of white to serve as a reflection in the eye. This will give the image life!


Snow Leopard Stage 7

Stage Seven

Take True Black and use the thin nib to sparingly pick out the darkest areas of the snow leopard - areas such as the nostril, the centre of the spots, the eyes, inside the ear and the area of shadow behind the ear. 


Snow Leopard Stage 8

Stage Eight

Using the Greys, soften the area around the True Black, blending it more smoothly into its immediate surroundings. Further define areas of shadow on the nose bridge, eyebrow and mouth. Using the fine nibs of the Greys, add dots around areas of shadow and the spots so as to give the image a rougher, more natural look. 

Continue layering and adding further definition using the Greys and any of the other colours we’ve already used as necessary. 


Final Stage

Take a white gel pen and black fine liner and add the whiskers. Using the gel pen, also add some white hairs to the inside of the ear, then finish off by picking out the highlights in the eye.

Snow Leopard Final