So here is a second terrier dog painting, again in pastel! (of course, ‘what else’ as George Clooney would say!) All the stages up until this current point are detailed below.
This dog portrait is 12×16 inches and on Clairefontaine brown pastelmat. So for a bit of behind the scenes info, as ever I use my white pencil to create my line drawing. I have changed the background on this one completely, all that is the same as the reference photo is the dog. I enjoyed using the darker background on my previous terrier dog portrait so I decided to use it again. This time though I added some leaves to the background and I’m going to add moss and grasses to the foreground area although it can be changed if it doesn’t work. I made lots of sketches until I was happy with the layout before I transferred it to the pastelmat.
For the deep background I used panpastels, they cover so well and very quickly. I use sofft sponges to cover the larger areas and then the sofft pallet knives for the tighter areas. I found the Derwent ‘Seal’ pastel pencil was very similar to the panpastel so I used it to tidy up the edges to keep it clean. I then used a few green panpastels to add a bit of a haze the the darker area and dabbed them on with the sponges but just blending them in together with my fingers (it’s good to be hands on!) Any excess pastel was simply brushed of with a stiff brush so all of my outlines could still be seen.
Next I used derwent sticks to block in the leaves. I only used two shades for this, the derwent sticks are lovely and creamy, they do blend really well but at this stage I was just blocking so left it unblended. The great thing about the Derwent sticks is they are square so they can be used right up against the sketch lines very accurately whereas some rounded softer pastel sticks are too fat and crumbly to do this although they are just as fun to use.
You can see above how I started working on the face area of this little terrier. I had started with the eyes, as I’ve said before these are what you look at in any portrait, they are the focus so they must be correct. I used a black faber pitt pastel pencil for the pupil, I always like making this very dark, tell me this isn’t the focus of your gaze! I used a couple of lovely creamy derwent pastel pencils for the eyes and blended them together with the end of the pastel pencils then added a pale yellow for the gentle highlight underneath the pupil and along the bottom of the iris, this makes the eye look rounded. I then added a couple of white highlights to really make the eye sparkle. Not too complicated but very effective.
The shot above gives you an idea of how I layer, the principle is the same whatever part of the portrait I am working on. I look for the darker shades and add these first, you can see how rough this can be by looking at the brown shade underneath the collar, it’s just a case of blocking it in. I used derwent sticks for this, just because I had one in the perfect shade, I could also use a pastel pencil if I had chosen. I use the same method on the face but you can see how after adding more layers which become more delicate and detailed as the layers increase until the last layer is just the finest of hairs. It really is just a case of building it up bit by bit. The muddy effect so loathed by pastel beginners is simply from making the layers too heavy so they drag through one another and turn to a yucky brown, if your layers remain light they will just sit on top of one another and look like individual hairs.
I used a pale grey stabilo pastel pencil to go over the brown on the body, I made sure each pastel stroke, no matter how rough it is, is applied in the direction of the fur, this will help the layers look like fur as they build up.
And with just a couple more layers the realistic fur is starting to take shape. I used a pale yellow (pitt) to add very fine and detailed lines for the top layer of fur. I used very delicate strokes with a sharp pastel pencil (how to sharpen pastel pencils) but then I went back with the brown derwent I used for the very first layer and refined the darker shadows by going between individual strokes to give a 3d effect. All in all the chest area was about 5 layers of pastel only but towards the end I go back adding many more just to tidy things up and to really make that fur look real.
I also had to do that collar, I was desperate to get to the blues and I had promised myself I would leave it until the end as a treat (It’s like the sweet you can’t have until you’ve eaten all your dinner) but I couldn’t wait, the blue was calling me! I love collars and trinkets as much as eyes to be honest! I simply blocked it in with a medium blue all over then I used a darker blue shade to draw lines on it to show the ridges of the material, I also used a lighter one to do even more lines to show where the light highlighted these ridges so giving the collar some texture.
So this is where I am, I am using the same shades and colours of pastel pencils all over the body but just adding the darker shades back over the top to give the impression of shape and roundness.
Feel free to visit my gallery where you will find lots of completed dog portraits but if you like to see how they are made, visit my dog art blog posts where I show step by step updates from the beginning to end of each piece and don’t forget I offer worldwide pet portraits commissions.