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.

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:


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:


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.


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:


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


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