Friday, November 30, 2012

Dog: step-by-step

Another step-by-step for you to see. This is 5" x 7" on Arches 300 pound cold-press watercolor paper.

I painted it from my own photograph, taken in natural sunlight indoors, that has been carefully composed and cropped. Since this is a dog I know and I wanted it to be a faithful rendering of him, I made a one-to-one print of the image in order to be able to carefully measure for accuracy.

1. First I did a pencil drawing, then I mostly erased it so that I could still see the placement of the features.


2. Then I used a loose, watery wash of colors over the top, transparent enough to see the drawing underneath. I already like the curves and angles of the composition.


3. I started with the eyes because I needed them to work most of all. It helps me feel like the animal is alive when the eyes are at least resolved, if not finished. The rich golden browns and blue-whites have given this dog a relaxed, warm look already.


4. I used thicker applications of gouache, working out from the eyes on the face, establishing the general shapes of light and dark, the pattern of the white and brown fur, and the overall direction of the hair growth. I also worked on the couch, pillow and shadow shapes.


5. After getting most of the head and face resolved I began work on the paw above his nose. It's a difficult set of soft shapes that took some time to see and render properly.


6. I worked on the hair to complete the soft look of this dog, adding strokes with a 'crazy' brush that is quite wonky. It's one that has been damaged over the years and now gives the perfect strokes for such details. I also did soft suggested 'detail' on the pillow behind the dog. I didn't want the details there to compete with the animal.


7. (Close-up.) I emphasized the edges of the dark and light above his nose, stippling the tiny hairs there to form a pattern.

Finished painting.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing this step-by-step demonstration. Please feel free to ask questions.