For this dog portrait, I am working on our friend’s adorable chihuahua, Lucky. He’s about seven pounds of pure love. My husband took this photo of him on the arm of their couch.
Once I have the correct outline using soft vine charcoal, I started adding white. At this point, I am just trying to get the placement of his head, legs and tail correct. To paint large areas like this I lightly fill in the area with pastel and then blend (with my fingers) into the paper. For spots of pure white I may have to go over the area a few times, especially since I am using black paper. I’ve tried other methods of blending (brushes, tortillons, etc) but nothing seems to work as well as my hands for this.
After I added all the white patches, I filled in the rest of the body and head with a reddish-brown pastel.
As the face is the most important component of a portrait, I started adding detail there first. The original nose placement made the face too long, so I moved it up some. I had the right eye in the correct place, but needed to move the the left eye down.
I’ve got a good bit of detail done in the face, but after looking at my reference photo I can see that I need to extend his body in the back a little bit. I also want to work on making his tucked front leg a little more convincing before I start adding the final details.
I added some more detail to his face and some texture to the fur on his body. I also extended his back end a little bit.
I normally don’t like backgrounds in my work, but Lucky is going to look pretty silly curled up on blank space so I’ll need to at least suggest a solid surface beneath him. I decided to go with a mere suggestion of the couch, in order to let the dog be the main focus.
The last step will be to finalize some detail to the ears, fine strokes of fur to the body and face, and add whiskers.
I am really happy with how this portrait turned out, what a cutie!