How to Paint a Dog Portrait

This is a general overview with photos and a few videos of my process for painting pet portraits. To see more of my work, please visit me at shelleyhanna.com

41 Views 1 Like
How to Paint a Dog Portrait
36 Steps
Supplies
Embed
1
Getting started! If working from a photo, it's helpful to have the photo be the exact same size as the canvas you will be painting on.

Getting started! If working from a photo, it's helpful to have the photo be the exact same size as the canvas you will be painting on.

2

The Sight Size Method is a way of constructing realistic drawings with great accuracy that has been used to draw and teach drawing for centuries.

Recommended For You
3

It is a method by which anyone with any amount of drawing experience can set up and execute a realistic drawing. www.benrathbone.net/sight_siz…

4
You can paint with acrylic paint under oil paint but not the other way around. You must follow the rule of "fat over lean" to avoid the paint from cracking.

You can paint with acrylic paint under oil paint but not the other way around. You must follow the rule of "fat over lean" to avoid the paint from cracking.

5

Via Wikipedia: Fat over lean refers to the principle in oil painting of applying paint with a higher oil to pigment ratio ('fat') over paint with a lower oil to pigment ratio ('lean').

6

This ensures a stable paint film, since it is believed that the paint with the higher oil content remains more flexible.

7
You can freehand your drawing onto the canvas with charcoal and then paint over the lines with raw umber. If you are a beginner, use a grid or a proportional divider to help mark key areas.

You can freehand your drawing onto the canvas with charcoal and then paint over the lines with raw umber. If you are a beginner, use a grid or a proportional divider to help mark key areas.

8

Is it cheating to use a grid or proportional divider? Some say yes. I think that's a little too judgemental. For centuries famous artists have used measuring devices to make representational art.

9

If you are a beginner, I would encourage you to use tools to help you accurately capture your subject. These tools help you to "see" correctly. Over time, you will rely less and less on them.

10
I've painted in acrylics for decades and decided to try my hand at oils this year. Oils are a little more flexible for blending and seem to have more richness when it comes to color.

I've painted in acrylics for decades and decided to try my hand at oils this year. Oils are a little more flexible for blending and seem to have more richness when it comes to color.

11

You really don't need every color under the sun to start painting. Google the "Zorn Palette" to learn more about limited palettes which uses only yellow ochre, crimson, black & titanium white.

12

For this painting I used ultramarine blue, black, raw umber and white for the majority of the painting. For the eyes I used some cad red to amp up the iris color.

13
WARNING! Many of the materials used for oil painting can become flammable. Make sure you do your research on proper disposal of paper towels and rags.

WARNING! Many of the materials used for oil painting can become flammable. Make sure you do your research on proper disposal of paper towels and rags.

14
To stain the canvas, I squeezed a small amount of acrylic yellow ochre onto the canvas and then smeared it around with water and a brush. I then took a paper towel to wipe off the excess.

To stain the canvas, I squeezed a small amount of acrylic yellow ochre onto the canvas and then smeared it around with water and a brush. I then took a paper towel to wipe off the excess.

15

BTW - does anyone else see the ghost in the paint on the previous step? Seeing patterns or faces in objects where there are none is called Pareidolia. Happens to everyone ;)

16
Here is a closeup of the sketch I started for this painting. I skipped the charcoal and went straight for sketching with raw umber thinned down with water.

Here is a closeup of the sketch I started for this painting. I skipped the charcoal and went straight for sketching with raw umber thinned down with water.

17

I verified the placement of the eyes with the proportional divider (gasp!) I had them in the right place, but it's always nice to double check.

18

Take a break after your drawing for about 15 to 30 minutes. When you come back, ask yourself "what is different between the drawing and the photo?" Then make corrections as needed.

19
Here I have the under-painting roughed in. It's not looking pretty, but it doesn't need to at this point. I'm checking my drawing against the photo for differences and all looks good.

Here I have the under-painting roughed in. It's not looking pretty, but it doesn't need to at this point. I'm checking my drawing against the photo for differences and all looks good.

20

As mentioned before, I rough in with acrylic raw umber thinned with water. Many artists use oil paint thinned down with mineral spirits. I'm not a fan of mineral spirits, so I stick with what I like.

21
Unfortunately this is the only video that I have of actually painting the pup. I always start with the dark areas first. I couldn't help myself though - I had to start painting those eyes!

Unfortunately this is the only video that I have of actually painting the pup. I always start with the dark areas first. I couldn't help myself though - I had to start painting those eyes!

22

Start with the dark colors first. I mostly blocked in with a mixture of ultramarine blue, raw umber and black. I use a little linseed oil if the paint is feeling too thick.

23

Try to stay away from mixing in white for as long as possible. White turns your dark paint into a fog and it's hard to get the darkness back when you introduce white.

24
I'm a sucker for eyes so I broke my own rule and used white here. Take time to really look at the colors and shapes in the eyes and paint what you see, not what you think you see.

I'm a sucker for eyes so I broke my own rule and used white here. Take time to really look at the colors and shapes in the eyes and paint what you see, not what you think you see.

25

I'm surprised every time by how dark the whites of they eyes are. They can contain many colors including grey, blue, yellow, pink and orange. Study those "whites"! Same goes for teeth.

26
This is a terrible photo. I blew up the eye so you can see how simple it is. I started with an outline in black of the iris and filled in the pupil. Then used cad red and raw umber for the iris color.

This is a terrible photo. I blew up the eye so you can see how simple it is. I started with an outline in black of the iris and filled in the pupil. Then used cad red and raw umber for the iris color.

27
This is the finished eye blown up. It looks like a mess! But from a normal distance, it looks real. As you can see, I added some dark grey reflections behind the highlight to make the eye look round.

This is the finished eye blown up. It looks like a mess! But from a normal distance, it looks real. As you can see, I added some dark grey reflections behind the highlight to make the eye look round.

28
Here I'm adding dark greys for the lighter portions of the fur. Be careful to stay really dark - darker than you think you should - and not fog up your dark colors in other areas. Take your time.

Here I'm adding dark greys for the lighter portions of the fur. Be careful to stay really dark - darker than you think you should - and not fog up your dark colors in other areas. Take your time.

29
Side by side. The print of the photo is really dark so I also was working from a digital image off my computer. The photo was bending and looks distorted.

Side by side. The print of the photo is really dark so I also was working from a digital image off my computer. The photo was bending and looks distorted.

30

I would recommend taping your photo to a flat board and placing it right next to your canvas so you can easily check for differences. (Don't be lazy like me and just tape up the printout! ;)

31
I'm starting to lay in lighter greys on top of the darker greys. This starts to give a little dimension to the fur. I used smaller brushes for whiskers below the nose.

I'm starting to lay in lighter greys on top of the darker greys. This starts to give a little dimension to the fur. I used smaller brushes for whiskers below the nose.

32

TIP: Squint your eyes while you work. This helps you to see the real shapes and color values instead of getting caught up in the detail of what you THINK you see.

33
There comes a point when you have to decide how detailed you want to go. I could have gone super real, but I like having the painting look real from a distance and painterly up close.

There comes a point when you have to decide how detailed you want to go. I could have gone super real, but I like having the painting look real from a distance and painterly up close.

34

Step back often to check your work. I like to walk out of the room and then walk back in to see what the painting looks like. If it looks like a photo from 10' away and a painting up close, it's done.

35
After signing the painting, the last thing I need to do is put a couple coats of retouch varnish on this puppy. Make sure the painting is dry before you varnish.

After signing the painting, the last thing I need to do is put a couple coats of retouch varnish on this puppy. Make sure the painting is dry before you varnish.

36

This painting took me about 4 hours to do. I wasn't in any hurry and could have done it much faster, but why? I enjoyed every moment. Just wish I would have taken video. Next time I will!

keyboard shortcuts:     previous step     next step
Comments
0 COMMENTS
View More Comments