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Anatomy Of A Pet Portrait

Anatomy Of A Pet Portrait

I’ve been drawing pet portraits for well over two years now, and it has only occurred to me that I have never really blogged about the process. Whenever I receive a pet portrait commission, I start by mocking up how the drawing will look on the computer. As animals are quite fickle, it is very rarely that I receive a perfect photo to draw from. So instead, I very often have to create a final mock up from cutting and pasting from various photos gathered.

For this pet portrait, it was important to capture Ollie’s cheeky side but we couldn’t find a good enough photo of her sticking her tongue out. So instead, I google references of dogs with their tongue sticking out and photoshop it on the image instead. Same with the collar, I simply source the collar from another photo and paste it on top.

After the mock up, I then sketch a rough outline on paper to set the layout. This step is very rough, it is more for me to plot the major elements like eyes, nose on paper to make sure everything is in the right proportion.

Once I’m happy with the layout, I will then work on the final drawing. I often start with the most prominent or important area as it is important to get it right. You don’t want to spend hours working on the non essential areas and then having to start again because the eyes look wonky or out of place. This is also the part of the drawing where I spend the most time as it can often make or break the drawing.

It is also important to note that drawing takes a lot of time, I often work on a drawing in hour blocks, as I notice the quality of my drawing can deteriorate if I don’t take proper breaks. It also help you see your drawing with fresh eyes when you start on it again.

The rest of the body usually come together pretty quickly, the trick here is to not over work the drawing and work in layers to develop depth which I will talk further about in a future blog post.