How to Paint an Animal Portrait With Pastels

By Ronnie Tucker in Art Tutorials > Drawing Tips

In today’s tutorial I’ll be using pastels to create a realistic portrait of a dog.

I like to use soft pastels for blocking in color, and hard pastels (combined with pastel pencils) for creating detail. Specifically, the pastels that I use are hard Conte pastels, soft Ashby pastels, and Derwent pastel pencils.

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As far as paper goes, I like to use a paper called “velour” which has a velvet-like texture. This helps greatly in creating soft fur effects.

Here’s my source photo:

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Let’s get started

I began with a very basic drawing, and then started working on the eyes. The eyes are difficult in this case, as they are basically only black spheres, but I put a touch of blue in them to give colour variation.

Once the eyes are looking good, I block in the basic colors, very lightly, and gently smudge the colors with my finger to give a soft, blended look:

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With the foundation in place I now pay attention to the nose. Once the nose is in place, I start adding solid color to the face, always moving the pastel in the direction the fur is growing.

It’s getting there, but it needs more work. I need to make the darks much deeper and I also need to add shadows to give depth.

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The last step is to add some fine detail fur, including the long fur hanging from the tips of the ears, and to subdue the blue shadows a touch.

Here is the final portrait:

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Of course, depending on your particular situation you may decide to add a background as well. For this piece, a simple centered portrait was all I wanted.

To see more of Ronnie’s step-by-step tutorials please visit RonnieTucker.co.uk.

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