Inside the Studio: Painting "Hunter" the Golden Retriever
This 8″ x 10″ dog portrait came together over several hours. In this video I’ll show you the process I use to get the lighting, textures, and colours down when I paint oil portraits of dogs and other pets.
Starting with Sketch & Background
When I start painting, I’m pretty loose with my sketch. I don’t use projectors or under-prints to make a paint-by-numbers style outline for myself, because I like the effects I get from painting freehand! In the beginning, I’m just trying to get an idea of where the dog will sit on canvas.
I fill in the portrait background next so that the subject “pops forward” more, and so I can blend the tips of the fur outward. I like to use a simple gradient for my pet portrait backgrounds. They keep the focus on the subject, but still have depth.
Check out these more colourful pet portrait backgrounds to see how much you can do with a simple gradient or vignette!
Getting the Rest of the Dog on Canvas
Once these major strokes are in, the painting is almost finished. From far away, this golden retriever is already looking a lot like himself!
Finishing the Dog Painting with Highlights & Details
Going in and adding the details really makes the finished dog portrait sparkle!
In this step, I use a smaller brush. I alternate between deepening shadows and adding bright highlights to bring out shine and reflection.
Do you have a pet portrait idea? I’d love to hear about it.
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Thanks for reading,