…No idea why.
What is going on here? Why does this phase happen? And How does it contribute to a well executed pet portrait?
When I’m painting someone’s pet from one or more of their photos, I often grid out out the primary reference photo to make sure I’m getting the anatomy right.
I’ll put a grid on the canvas as well to to ensure that the dog or pet in the sketch maintains the same proportions as the one in the photo. In the first half of this video, you can see how the painting grid and the reference grid line up.
Both grid and initial sketch will be completely covered by the time the piece is finished, so why do I send this stage to my clients?
Stage 2: Background and Shadows
If the portrait background is anything but white, I’ll start filling it in before starting to work on the subject.
Looking for how to get your own dog drawing right? Check out this post on dog noses >
I’m being careful to keep my paint thin here, because every layer in an oil painting needs to be thicker than the one below due to how oil paint dries and oxidizes. I’m also using a very large brush, usually 2-4″.
Stage 3: Re-Define Features
See the whole process of this cat portrait here >
Stage 4: Fill in Texture
On the left, this poodle portrait still looks flat, cartoonish and dull. On the right, we’re starting to see a hint of curls. A little bit of texture can catch your imagination, and almost makes you start to fill in fur and detail even where there isn’t any.
Stage 5: Highlights
Check out this post for more on realistic pet portraits>