After completing a few headshots, I was glad to get the chance to paint a full-body portrait. I started out by making a vine charcoal sketch of Jeter and this is where I can mess up and redraw any lines (like the placement of his front leg). Once I fill in the general color, I’m more or less locked into my drawing. I typically like to start out with the mid-values and work my way lighter and darker from there.
Once I was happy with how he was progressing, I started adding in the background. In this case, he is standing in their grassy backyard, so I blocked in the value of the grass with the intention of adding more detail later on. Once the background is added, I can start to evaluate the color values in the piece and further emphasize Jeter’s highlights and shadows.
I continued to work on Jeter to give him more definition, concentrating mostly on his head. Obviously the face is the most important focal point in any dog portrait, so I needed to make sure there was enough of a likeness there.
I gave him more tufts of fur on his body and legs and added more detail around the mouth. I decided to go with sharp strokes in the foreground to suggest the grass by swiping upwards with three different shades of green. I also went into the foreground grass with some medium brown to root his feet better.
Jeter still looked too “soft” for me and wanted slightly more detail in the grassy background, so I added more strokes to the background and put in several wisps of hair on his back and legs.
The final product…
Check out the dog portrait demo for Lucky, the chihuahua.