Painting a Dog Portrait From a Photo

Painting a dog portrait from a photo is the preferred method of portraying the personality of a favorite pet. Their never-ending reserves of energy make it nearly impossible to paint them without one. A camera is also able to capture every nuance of a dog’s expression and playful antics, which can then be transferred to your canvas.

Good Lighting for Taking Photos

Natural light is the best to use for dog photos to avoid red or “devil” eye appearance from the flash. When your pet is outside, they pose more naturally and give plenty of opportunities for action shots. If being outside is not possible, use a room with a large window. Dog Portraits

Pose Carefully and Take Multiple Shots

Capturing your dog in different poses lets you decide which one defines his personality the best. Vary the shots by including close ups. Those often make the most dramatic portraits. Most dog breeds look better with their mouths open when posing for a picture. To achieve this, have the dog run around a little to get them to pant.

Transforming a Picture into a Painting

Once you have a personality defining photograph, you’re ready to paint. Gather all of your materials and start mixing colors. If free-hand sketching is difficult, you can always transfer the outline using tracing paper. You can use one of two methods for this, glue the tracing paper directly to the canvas with a spray adhesive, or use a marker that will “bleed” through the tracing paper.

Pay Attention to the Eyes  

As with people, a dog’s eyes are the window to its soul. Study the photo for technical detail as well as expression. Be sure to position the highlight correctly so the eyes will have a more natural expression.

Painting Fur

This can be the most challenging aspect of painting a dog portrait from a photo. Take your time with this as the dog’s coat is its leading physical characteristic. Older dogs tend to turn gray at the muzzle and even solid color dogs will have variations of hue within their coats. Fur not only varies in color but also in texture and growth direction as well. Some artists find that glazes give a more natural appearance when adding highlights. Practice on a spare canvas until you are sure of your technique. Your patience will be rewarded by producing a result of which you can be proud!



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