pet portrait tutorial


“Theo”. My latest speedpaint and the last of 2017! Completely unedited so you can see all of my mistakes and places where I stare awkwardly at the computer screen for ten minutes deciding what to do


My working progress/process on getting to a finished pet portrait, in case you were curious :)!

Step 1:  Loose gesture drawing.  The point here isn’t anatomical perfection, but a FUN POSE!  I sometimes draw TONS of these before I like one.

Step 2: Clean up stage 1.  I’m thinking about my general shape language at this point

Step 3: Refine.  At this point, I’m paying closer attention to my references and trying to pin point what shape language is in the actual DOG or ANIMAL I’m drawing.  Note the huge difference in face and muzzle shape.

Step 4: Revison.  I take a second close look at the animal.  In this case, D’oh!  I realized I was mentally phoning in the breed as a female, and my dog is a boy.  Check for more elements I want to push, like the curvature of the spine, more puffed out chest, stockier legs.

Note:  All of those 4 stages are done VERY quickly.  But it’s important to try and capture your mistakes during the sketch phase and re-draw as necessary.

Step 5: rough color.  I set the line art to multiply, and lasso the general shape.  I paint in my basic color shapes, and erase into it to strengthen the form.

Step 6: line art.  I draw my line art in the few areas I want it to show through (mostly to separate elements within the drawing).  I delete my sketch layer.

Step 7: color clean up.  Using thick brushes, I clean up my colors, and add basic shadow shapes.  I make sure I’m not missing any major markings, or add in minor markings at this stage.

Step 8: fur.  I draw in all of the fur elements using a textured line.

Step 9: Light and shadow.  I apply light and shadow with an overlay and a hard light layer respectively.  I often create a third layer to add white bloom, or highlights wherever necessary.

Dog belongs to :)!

If you want to see this in process, I will try and do a live stream of my next pet portrait at around 5PM PST.  I’ll give you warning!

If you’re interested in snagging one of these pet portraits for yourself, email me!
Special $50 only through Sunday.  +$15 if you’d like stickers/magnets and a post card shipped to you!