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how to draw a black cat

Longtime readers of this here blog know that I live with a black cat.
Sambora is an enjoyable companion.  There are times when she is my muse.  However, there is one thing that has long vexed me about her.  I have a hard time drawing a completely black cat.

This might not be a problem if my media of choice was paint or photography.  As you can see from the picture above, there are gradations in her fur.  Depending on how the light is hitting her, she can appear to have reddish or bluish highlights.  Mostly, though, the light that hits her immediately gets sucked into her body and the energy is used to create even more fur, which is then shed onto every single object in the house.

Since my preferred means of artistic expression is black ink on white paper, drawing a completely black cat is tricky.  Do you fill the picture in completely, so she looks like a silhouette or a shadow?  Do you use crosshatchey lines to indicate depth?  And what if you’re depicting her at night?

I was relieved to hear from no less a master cartoonist than Patrick McDonnell that he, too, has trouble drawing black cats.  At his ComicCon panel, Patrick discussed his solution: a tuxedo cat.
Mooch is a black cat, yes, but he’s got white patches, making his features apparent.
Patrick showed us a photo of a recent addition to Chez McDonnell, “Not Udi.”  Not Udi is a stray who Patrick and his wife began feeding, then giving shelter.  He got his negative name when a woman, who was looking for her runaway Udi, came to see this cat.  Immediately upon inspection she proclaimed, “That is not Udi.”  A name was found.

Patrick admitted that, without any other colors with which to distinguish features, he is having trouble drawing Not Udi in his strip.

I have therefore decided to not even try to draw a black cat in my comics until Patrick finds a solution.  Too much is at stake for me to lamely attempt and fail.  The world needs a black cat.  The world will have to wait.

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