My friend’s dog, Maggie, recently celebrated her first birthday. One of the photos her human took was a nice shot of her sitting up and looking at the camera, and I thought it would make a nice portrait sketch, and give me an excuse to play with my new toned paper sketchbook. Apologies in advance for the uneven lighting, my desk light doesn’t seem to play well with the beige paper I chose.
Derwent Drawing Pencils:
Caran d’Ache Luminance Pencils:
Stillman and Birn Nova Trio 150gsm sketchbook paper (beige)
Because this dog has a lot of white in her fur, I decided to choose a colour other than white for the paper. My sketchbook had grey, black and beige paper, and I chose beige because I thought it most suited the warm colours of the dog and her happy personality. Draw the outline in greylead pencils, or transfer a traced outline. Try to keep the lines faint so it’s easy to erase later, otherwise it will muddy the colours laid over the top of it.
For most of the early stages of colouring, I gently lift the greylead lines off the paper using a kneaded eraser just before I go over them with colour to make sure the colours stay bright and pure. Starting with the tips of the ears, lay in Chocolate in a relatively solid layer, changing to Sepia and then Warm Earth and lighter, more feathery strokes to show the longer fur at the base of her ears. Draw the fur on the top and side of her head with a mixture of Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre, Mars Orange and Light Sienna, changing to Sepia and Chocolate for the dark tips of the long bits of hair on the sides of her face.
Use Ivory Black to outline the eyes and colour the pupils (graduating from a heavy/solid black at the top to using a softer pressure near the bottom of the pupils), as well as to outline the nose and dark parts of the mouth. Make the top of the nose slightly softer rather than a hard outline, as this will blend into her white fur. Colour the irises with Solway Blue and then go over it with Chinese White. Lightly add a few dark whiskers under the nose; these will be covered by white fur later. For the dog’s lip, use Chocolate for the outer part on the left, merging this into Ivory Black where the lip meets the white fur. Go over the top part just under the tongue with Cool Grey and/or Chinese White to create a highlight, and add the shadowing in the mouth/the back of the tongue with Ivory Black.
Colour in the teeth with Chinese White, and then using the same colour, start outlining the white areas on the dog’s face and head. Begin feathering a little white fur from the upper lip over the dark lower lip, and make the chin a solid white. Using soft strokes and following the contour of the dog’s fur down her body, draw in the fur on her chest and neck with Chinese White, adding some Cool Grey for some of the darker areas. I also laid in a layer of Cool Grey on the lower chest before going over with some Chinese White. On the left side of her neck I also added some Yellow Ochre fur.
Colour the dog’s tongue with a light layer of Permanent Red, taking this up over the shadowed area and leaving a highlight along the lower right. Go over this with Ultramarine Pink, then, with Manganese Violet, add a darker section to the middle of the tongue as it recedes into the mouth. Emphasise the highlight on the tongue with Chinese White.
Layer Wheat and Brown Ochre over the dog’s cheeks to create the soft fur, adding in very soft sections of Brown Ochre. Continue filling out the fluffy parts around the ears with more Brown Ochre, a little Sepia and Chocolate and a few highlight areas of Cool Grey and Chinese White. Add more light Brown Ochre under the dog’s eyes, leaving a highlighted area of Wheat and/or Yellow Ochre directly under the eyes. Add some strokes of Chinese White over the light brown areas of the dog’s cheeks and head
Emphasise the fine long hairs of the dog’s eyebrows with Mars Violet, then fill in the rest of the light brown areas of the dog’s head with feathery strokes of Brown Ochre. Make sure you also leave a pale area above the eyes to show the top of the eyelids. Add a few strokes of Chocolate to the eyebrows. Add the shadows around the edges of the eyes with Brown Ochre and a hint of Mars Violet.
Add some Cool Grey to the shadowed area on the left side of the muzzle (light to medium pressure). Fill in the rest of the white areas of the face using Chinese White, starting at the top of the head and coming down the muzzle, blending it gently into the light brown areas either side but keeping some harder edges.
Build up more fur where necessary, again using Chinese White and Brown Ochre for the neck and chest, and Brown Ochre and a little Yellow Ochre on the top of the head. I also used a combination of Solway Blue and Cool Grey to deepen the shadows below and to the left of the dog’s chin.
Use Solway Blue to colour the highlighted areas under the dog’s nostrils, and then put a softer layer of the same colour along the top right of her nose, blending into a small area of Brown Ochre on the left. With Ivory Black, draw a soft line showing the groove down the lower middle of her nose, then colour the nostrils using a heavy pressure, and do the same for the very bottom of her nose (where it meets her lip).
Gradually blend the Ivory Black out to a lighter application to cover the rest of the nose, leaving some of the Solway Blue and Brown Ochre showing through. Use a little Solway Blue to redefine the higlighted areas, and a little Chinese White for the palest parts. With a firmer pressure and Solway Blue, go over the lower parts of the dog’s pupils, blending into the black to create a smooth finish. Add another layer of Ivory Black in the top half to make it as black as you can. Using Sepia and Chocolate, define the little ‘eyeliner’ lines that go from the outside of the dog’s eyes down towards her cheek. Finally, sign your name on the lower left of the picture.
Thanks for following along in this portrait sketch of Maggie. I’ll have a review of the Derwent Drawing pencils I used for this demonstration up on my blog in the next few days, but in the meantime, happy drawing!