How A Black Background Improved This Cat Painting [Video]

Cat painting before and after background of black

Cat Painting Before the Black

Firstly, let’s take a look at how this cat painting, featuring Mimou (what a cutie) got started. I started by working on white fur in the shadows.

While I knew in my head these were white, my eyes couldn’t help but read “Brown and Blue”. Because of the white background, Mimou’s chest looked really dark.

Cat Painting Gif white and black

Painting the Black Behind the Cat

As you can see below, adding the black to this cat painting immediately improved how those shadows are read!

Cat painting before and after background of black

A Note About Painting Shadows

A quick side note about the black and blue effect of the shadows: these are different colours because the light on the right side of eh painting is warm in tone, while the light on the left is cool.

Our eyes like warm light sources and cool shadows because it’s a naturally-occurring palette. On a Sunny day, the blue sky creates ambient light that’s really cool in temperature. So when the sun hits something, it’s very warm by comparison! Because of the difference between the two, the light side of objects on a sunny day look warm, while the shadowed sides look cool.

Indoors, you get a similar effect any time someone has a lamp on one side (usually warm) and a window on the other (usually cool). For more on portrait lighting, check out this guide: 3 Simple Steps to Portrait Lighting.

Full Cat Painting Timelapse Video

Now that you know some of the steps that went into this cat painting, check out the whole video below!

This video is also available on my YouTube Channel, so please subscribe if you like the demo.

Looking for More Cat Art?

You can see more examples of my custom cat paintings in the Paws by Zann Cat Portrait Art Gallery

Or, check out All Pet Portraits

If you have a cat you’d like to see on canvas, send me an email at I’d love to bring your art vision to life.

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Thanks for reading! See you next time.


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Zann Hemphill

Zann Hemphill is a practising pet portrait artist, writer, and video producer.

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