Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Party Animals! Pet Portrait with Tutorial

I just participated in a swap on Craftster, and one thing I knew I had to do for my partner is paint a portrait of her adorable dogs. But not just any portrait, these dogs needed hats! Here's what I painted, and how it was done.

First,  here's the finished painting:

From left to right, that's Lola, Pete, and Jujube 

The tutorial:
1. Find pictures of each of the dogs, and size them in Photoshop to the exact size you need, and then print them out. Placed the in the positions you want them, trace them onto tracing paper, and cut a board the perfect size for your painting. Paint the background whatever color you desire, and then paint the sides and back black.

2. Use a pencil to cover the entire back of each dog image.

3. Carefully cut each dog out. Place them on the board, and trace around the border of each one. Use a ballpoint pen to draw over the eyes, nose, and any distinguishing marks on each dog. The pencil will act as carbon paper, and your board will have a paint-by-number look to it. The photo of Jujube I used was not in color, so I used other references to get her color and markings correct.

4. Lightly draw in the hats, and start to paint! Lay down large areas of color first.

5. Keep painting (and cursing, if necessary), until you are happy with the results. I use acrylic paints, so I can paint and repaint until I'm happy. If I get frustrated, I'll frequently prop the painting across the room and stare at it for until I can determine what's working and what still needs revision. Sometimes it helps to put it aside for a while and work on other projects. This is a photo of the painting in time out. Jujube, the dog on the right, is way too flat!

Paint it until you know it's the best it can be. I experimented with Copic markers on this painting, which worked out really well for the shadows on the hats. The tiara on Lola was done with tiny dots of silver glitter puff paint. I used a Copic marker to color some of the stones pink. The eyes of the two dogs on the ends originally weren't dark enough, so I colored over them with a grey marker to darken them up a bit. The marker is shinier than the paint alone in certain lights and in certain angles, but I gave the entire surface a couple of coats of matte Mod Podge, and everything blends right in.

I added the black lines around the edge of the painting with Sharpie pens because I really like having a border. I also sanded down all the sides; that's just a personal preference. 

Here's the finished painting in its new home, photo courtesy of my swap partner:


  1. I just love this to death! Most awesome painting ever!

  2. That painting is *awesome*! Thank you for the tutorial on how you did it.
    I'd love to try to do a painting with my dogs. Years ago, when I only had two, I paid a small fortune to have them painted. Now that I have four (and the artist charges per dog), I simply can't afford to have a new painting done.

  3. How lovely - what a fantastic project. I bet she was over the moon with this :-)
    I know what you mean with the 'time out' bit... I paint pets too and sometimes you just gotta' sit and stare or leave well alone :-D
    IKE xxx


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