Custom Pet Portraits in Oil
by Artist Zann Hemphill

Chihuahua Art: 5 Steps to a Beautiful Dog Painting

Dog Portrait from Photo

From Dim Photo to Chihuahua Art

When I make custom dog paintings, I’m often asked how I go from reference photo to the final painting on canvas. This is as true for Chihuahua art as it is for Great Dane art!

So I’ve created an ongoing series to share my painting process right from the studio.

colourful pet portrait pink chihuahuad og

This week’s dog art feature is a memorial for a spirited chihuahua named Lulu.

Step 1: Start with the Photo

Before bringing canvas into it, I spend some time with the reference photos, looking for the best lighting, angle and crop to make a composition.

Chihuahua art reference photo

In this case, we were using a photo of Lulu and her friend as the primary image for the painting, but focusing in on Lulu herself. At this stage, I’m looking for a way to crop my reference photos to match the size & layout my client has chosen.

For a list of currently available canvas sizes, check out my commissions page.

Step 2: A Digital Mockup of the Chihuahua Art

Once I’ve found a crop that makes sense, I’ll edit out any distracting background details so we’re left with just our tiny, charming subject.

Chihuahua art painting mockup

Step 3: Get the Chihuahua on Canvas

Now it’s time to start sketching on canvas. I work with oil paints right from the start, and often blend right into my sketches as I add the background and then the dog to the painting.

Step 4: Balance the Background and Subject in the Dog Painting

To complement Lulu’s fur and make the dog painting pop, we chose pink as the background colour. A blended gradient gives depth and texture to the artwork.

I fill the background in before getting too far with Lulu herself because I want the tips of the fur to extend over the background, creating the illusion of depth.

lulu chihuahua sketch art process

Step 5: Details Make the Chihuahua Painting Come to Life!

Now that the sketch and background are complete, I can get into the fun phase of painting this chihuahua art.

As I work, I’m looking for big shapes, and blending as I go.

Painting in this way lets the larger brush cover as much ground as possible before going in with a small brush to augment finer hairs and add highlights.

colourful pet portrait pink chihuahuad og

With the final highlights in her eye, she’s all done!

Looking for More Dog Paintings?

For video versions of my painting process, visit me on YouTube, or subscribe to my newsletter (below) to get new art and art videos sent over now and then.

If you’d like to see more dog, cat, and horse portrait art, check out my Pet Portrait Gallery.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Zann

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Pet Portrait art of a dog and kitten by Zann Hemphill

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