Pet Portraits - Drawing a Pastel Portrait 

Black animals are notoriously difficult to photograph, so I was really glad to get such great reference photographs of these two black Labradors.

They have very similar features and are actually father (Angus on the right) and son (Digby on the left).

This was quite a big portrait, 16″ x 12″/40 x 30 cm, and no background was required.

The initial sketch.

Usually I do a base layer of the main colours in the subject, but black pastel is much too messy for that, so I do smaller sections at a time. I began with Digby as I am right handed, so working from left to right would reduce the chance of smearing the pastel as I go along.

Digby in progress

Starting to add detail to Angus

I left the collar area blank until the final stage simply because I didn’t want the bright colours to be dulled by any stray black pastel. The client requested their names on their tags rather than personal information that was shown in the reference photo.

Digby and Angus, pastel by Gillian Ussher (16"x12")

Once it was complete there was a lot of cleaning to do to get rid of all those smudge marks!

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