How to Paint Dog and Cat Eyes Properly [4 Videos]

Dog Eye Painting Oil Process Video

Learning How to Paint Dogs & Cats? It's All About the Eyes

People often remind me that the eyes are the most important part of any portrait. Done well, they bring the subject to life! Done poorly, and nothing can save a piece.

These videos focus in on how I paint eyes on cats and dogs when I create custom pet portraits. But before you start, these videos are about the last step: rendering. If you’re looking for where to put dog and cat eyes, the shapes, sizes and angles, I recommend you start here:

The Ultimate Guide to Drawing Dog Eyes

This post focuses on dogs, but you can apply the same principles when it comes to how to paint cat eyes. I also have a great article on how to paint cat noses.

4 Videos to Help you Paint Animal Eyes

They’re organized from shortest (30 seconds) to longest (5 minutes), so enjoy whatever you have time for 😉

If you’re fairly far along the process of painting dog eyes, then you understand just how important shine and highlights are. They go WAY beyond adding a little white dot (though honestly that’s a great place to start).

This super quick video focuses in on just the finishing touches.

How to Paint Cats: Adding Shine to Cat Eyes

Getting the shapes and base colours in is a great start, but shading and shine really make eyes look wet, alive, and 3D.

Check out how adding contrast affects a cat’s eyes with this painting of Lucy.

Can you see where the light is coming from? Where I’m adding shadow because it’s blocked by Lucy’s brows, where I’m adding highlights because it’s refracting through her eye and onto her iris, and where I’m adding direct reflections?

4 Minute Speed Painting Start to Finish on a Rottweiler Dog Eye

This larger dog painting of Roxy the Rottweiler shows my process from blank canvas to finished eye.

Harley’s portrait (painted about a year after Roxy’s, above) shows just how much detail you can pack into that small area.

Learn more with a complete demo

If you enjoyed these videos, sign up for my mailing list using the form below!  I send out animal art process videos and new work as it comes out. Or, subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

You can watch a complete dog painting demo of a golden retriever in this post.

You can learn more about my custom pet artwork here: Paws By Zann Pet Portraits

Thanks for watching 🙂


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Zann Hemphill

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

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Pet Portrait art of a dog and kitten by Zann Hemphill

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