09 Aug 2019Mont Marte

Pet portrait: Leo the French Bulldog

Step1. Transferring the outline

Refer to the outline image on page 6 and transfer it as best you can. You can draw it in directly or you might like to use the grid system to transfer it. Just make sure that the eye placement is correct and you are happy with the drawing before you add the paint.

Step 2. Tinting the canvas with acrylic

In this step we need to lay a very thin tint over the canvas. This is called a coloured ground and it provides a little warmth to any colours that are laid over it. Mix up a colour created from Crimson Red and Burnt Sienna.

Mix in a little less Crimson so that it is more on the brown side. Lay this paint on with a large gesso brush. Dip the brush into water so the coat is a little translucent and the drawing can still be seen beneath the tint.

Step 3. Laying in the background

Squeeze out some Titanium White and Phthalo Blue in H20 Water Mixible Oil Paints. Create a mid tone from these colours and lay it on. Cut in around the profile of the portrait. Darken the tone at the bottom by blending pure Phthalo into the coat. Mix Titanium White into the top portion of the painting. The tone should transition from light to dark. This adds more interest and alludes to the fact that the light source is emitting from the right hand side of the work.

Step 4. Laying in the darks

In this step we paint in any dark areas with a darkish tone created from Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue and Crimson. Add a touch of water and paint this into any areas of deep shadow. Refer to the image on the last page for correct tonal placement. Take into account the direction of the light coming in from the right as you lay in this tone. There is quite a bit of this important stage covered in the accompanying video.

Step 5. Laying in the brown mid tones

Once the dark tone has been laid in, we can lay in the brown mid tones. To do this I squeeze out some; Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey.

Essentially we need to fill in the areas between the dark tone. Again pay close attention to the reference photo and lay all of the tones in and make adjustments as you go. You can darken the browns by adding Paynes Grey and lightening with Yellow Ochre and Titanium White.

Lay this brown tone right up to the dark tone. the browns closest to the light source will be much lighter. All the tones are now in and I use a small hog bristle fan to smooth all of the tones so they transition smoothly. I then lay Burnt Umber into the eye, blend Paynes Grey in around the pupil and then blend some Burnt Sienna in around the pupil. Yellow Ochre is then blended into the bottom portion of the of the iris. Titanium White can then be dabbed in to the eye to suggest highlights.

Step 6. Adding the highlights

The next step is to add the highlights. I created a light beige from Paynes Grey, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna lightened with some Titanium White and laid this colour in around where the light hits the muzzle, as well as into the right of the face, under the left eye and cheek.

I lay this paint on with a small filbert and keep a fairly dry brush as I lay it on. It’s a good idea to keep standing back to view your work from across the room. It is just easier to see what changes need to be made from a distance.

Step 7. Painting the ears and the body

The head should be finished so we can move onto the ears. Paint the ears in with Chinese White Acrylic on both sides. Don’t paint the colour right up to the edge of each ear. Let the paint dry.

Next add some water to the H20 dark tone on the palette and lay in long strokes to suggest the hair on the inside of the ears.

The body is handled in the same way regarding how the tones lie on the head. Once the tones have been painted in, blend them with the hog bristle fan brush so all of the colours transition into each other.

Our dog has a white chest so lay Titanium White mixed with a touch of Yellow Ochre and Ultramarine Blue into the chest area. Use the edge of a flat brush and take the white in wispy strokes into the body colour. Add some slightly darker strokes in with a touch of Raw Umber added to the mix. Finally add some pure Titanium White strokes on top to suggest highlights.

Material List

  • Water Mixable Oil Paint Premium 37ml (1.25oz) - Yellow Ochre
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Titanium White
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Ultramarine Blue
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Permanent Crimson
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Phthalo Blue
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Burnt Sienna
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Burnt Umber
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Raw Umber
  • Water Mixable Oil Paint 37ml (1.25oz) - Paynes Grey
  • Double Thick Canvas Premium 50.8 x 60.9cm (20 x 24in)
  • Tear-off Paper Palette Signature 50gsm 36 Sheet
  • Palette Knife Signature No.15

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