Sunday, November 16, 2008

Finishing touches...when and what to detail

I have to confess, I LOVE to draw dog paws. Don't know why, but those canine hands just really interest me and if I'm not careful, I have a portrait of paws attached to a dog! They are usually in the foreground, so it's tempting to give them too much attention. What I really WANT them to do is to draw the eye in and right on up to the face.

The face is where I spend most of my detailing time. I do the eyes first, and I know this sounds crazy...but I feel like the portrait comes alive, that the dog or cat or horse is really with me somehow. What I've learned about their personality comes through those eyes while I work the rest of their face.

This is the time for sharp points to get the teeniest info communicated about that particular pet, and makes it a portrait of THAT dog, not of A dog.

My style is less about fur and more about features. I'm not one to draw in every strand of fur...but some detailing is necessary. I find that when the colors are blocked in properly, a few darker and lighter mixes of strands of fur are realistic enough to convey that it's fur, but still loose enough not to take attention away from the features.

Wet noses, drippy tongues and those puppydog eyes...that's the real story! Values are very very important here, especially darks, to keep the face from looking flat and pasted on. An open mouth is a great opportunity to show depth, but I have to make sure the dark passages are really, really dark, otherwise, it often can turn out too bright.

Once all of the face is done, I go back into the eyes. They LOOKED done when I did them earlier, but once the rest of the face details are in, they need to catch back up. Not sure if it's my style or not, but I need to work around the portrait basically all at the same time to keep that balance of what's important and what can stay looser.

So here's Zack, completed. His goofy, friendly personality comes through, I think. Nobody would think this is a timid, quiet guy. And look, he's ready to play!

Hope you enjoyed my little demo of how I did this dog portrait! If you'd like to see more of my pet portraits, visit me at my website . And if you happened upon this post and would like to see the whole blog that contains this demo, just click at the banner at the top that says "Art And Animals". I'm pet portrait artist, Robin Zebley, and I'm glad you stopped by!


Cat-in-a-Box said...

Robin, he's adorable! What a goof! I love him!
- Pam

Robin said...

Thanks Pam!

Anonymous said...

I really like this. Turned out great.