Sunday, October 9, 2016


Here's another recently-completed pet portrait, this time of Dez the staffy, who has unfortunately shuffled off this mortal coil. 

Here's my process, told mainly through photos taken with my phone and shared to my Instagram Story:

The commissioner had seen my Miss Bear portrait, and wanted a similar floral background. As Dez is such a black dog, I didn't think it would be sensible to have a black and white floral behind him, so we decided on green. I started off my sketching everything out in Photoshop. I didn't have a lot of photos to work from, but I combined several to get the best possible pose and expression. I sent this sketch to the commissioner to get her approval to move on before I started inking:

And then traced it onto Moleskine watercolour paper using Copic Multiliners. It was at this point that I added his tail. You couldn't see it in the photo I was using for his body pose, but I came to the conclusion that it looked a bit weird without any tail visible at all:

Once everything was inked, I started off by painting in the background in several shades of green watercolour:

And then at last it was time to paint Dez himself. It can be a bit unnerving, being stared at by a dog who's nose and eyes are not filled in!

It takes quite a few passes with the black Ecoline to get a really solidly black dog. There are about three layers of Ecoline, plus coloured pencil, all over Dez:


I added gilding as with Miss Bear, which really helped to warm everything up:

I sent a photo of the finished portrait to the commissioner, who expressed concerns that Dez wasn't black enough (the pitfalls of working from smartphone photography, you're never quite sure how realistic the colours are, and I'd erred more on the brindle side. However, that's what progress shots are for, no harm done)

So before she came and picked it up, I went over him again with black coloured pencil, and pushed the blacks as hard as I could without losing all sense of his shiny fur and the underlying muscles that a staffy has. I sent her another photo to check that she was happy once I'd done that:

Copic Multiliners, Winsor and Newton watercolours, Prismacolour pencils, Copic White and Cosmic Shimmer gilding flakes on Moleskine watercolour paper. 8 hours in total.

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