Pet Portraits Tips
I am also sharing with you a reference photo of my dog Toby. He is doing what he loves best in this photo– playing fetch! I am planning on doing a painting demonstration during April’s First Friday in downtown Canton at my art studio from this photo. This photo is one that works well for a pet portrait for several reasons.
1. The dog’s personality is showing thru in his expression. He looks happy and this look/expression is typical of his personality.
2. The dog’s face is clear and in focus. Although you can’t tell from the blog image the photo file is large enough I can see enough detail to do a detailed portrait and can get a very realistic painting from this is photo if that is the aim. (During my demo I will be working fast so the brushstrokes will be looser and less detailed but I have the information in this photo for more detail if I were doing a pet portrait commission. )
3. The lighting is natural so the colors and shadows will give me more to work with in making an interesting painting.
I choose with Toby to take a photo from the perspective of me looking down on him wanting to play fetch because that’s the ‘theme’ for this painting but to get a nice face shot it would be even better to get on the level with the dog and have the dog’s face fill the frame.
Having good reference material when doing portraits makes a world of difference. I can work with what you have if your pet has passed on but I like to remind people what makes for a good portrait photo so if they have the chance to take photos now to do so.
The second photo was taken doing the same activity and the same dog but the photo would be difficult to work from to do a portrait. The dog’s face is down, eyes closed and since he is black and his face is in shadow it would be difficult if I never saw the dog to do a painting to capture his personality and expression. What I would do in a case like this, if this were all you had for me to work from, is gather info. about eye color, breed, coat and specific personality traits to add to what visual information I have in this photo. I can do that but the process goes smoother and faster with better reference material.
I am an animal and equine artist specializing in portraits of dogs, cats, horses, wildlife and livestock.