Pet Portrait Process Feature: Lulu the Chihuahua

Dog Portrait from Photo

When I make custom animal art, I’m often asked how I go from reference photo to painting on canvas. So I’ve created an ongoing series documenting my pet painting process. This weeks dog art feature is a memorial for a spirited chihuahua named Lulu.

colourful pet portrait pink chihuahuad og

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.

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. I sent over a digital mock-up to my client when I had a crop that looked good.

From there, I started getting the dog on canvas!

To complement her fur and make the painting pop, we chose pink as the background colour. I filled that in before getting too far with my canine subject’s colours because I want the tips of the fur to extend over the background, creating the illusion of depth,

Now that the sketch and background are complete, I can get into the fun phase of painting a pet portrait in oil: blocking in colours. As I work, I’m looking for big shapes, and blending as I go.

Painting in this way lets the larger brush impart as much detail as possible, before I go 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!

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 approximately weekly-ish.

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

Thanks for reading!


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