Hello there. Today I’m sharing a few in-process images of a dog portrait I’m currently working on. You’ll probably notice this is a bit different from the cityscapes, patterns, and other art I like to make. The four stages shown here show the initial phase of my painting process.
The dog who is the model for this has mostly black fur, slicker around the head and with a bit of fluff on the body. She also has some white and grey areas around her snout and bridge of the nose. She’s got lovely, soulful eyes. They’re very calming, in my opinion.
So far there are about 12 hours of work in this piece. What I’ve been doing so far is underpainting. I decided to go with dark purples, which I like using to represent black in an animal’s coat. (I should say here that I seldom paint animals in their literal colors.) I established the darks and lights in the black fur by starting with what I thought I’d like to be the darkest shade of purple, and then working my way lighter little by little. I pick a slightly lighter tone of the color for each newly lighter area of fur I work on.
The light areas are not variations in the fur color so much as how the light is falling on the subject. It can also give some indication of where the fur lays flat and where it swirls or waves. Looking at it now, I think I could have started with an even darker purple, but I’m not sure yet.
Once I finish the underpainting, the next step will be to add texture with individual hairs, showing their highlights, low lights, and how they move and interact with each other. The eyes will need more work as well, such as blending together the soft browns and red-browns of the irises.
You might wonder why the background color has changed several times through the four stages shown above. I often put a background color in as I’m working. Sometimes I pick a color because I think it might work well with the piece and sometimes because I feel like having a particular color in front of me while I work. In this case, the blue backgrounds have helped me to gauge the levels of red and blue that are in the purples I’m using for the subject. I’ve learned not to be attached to my first pick of background color, as it’s quite possible I’ll go with something completely different as I near the finish.
In this case, I plan on doing a solid color background without imagery, as simplicity is more to my client’s preference. My final choice of background (if it’s a solid color) depends on what kind of color play I want to achieve in the overall piece of art, and how much I want it to contrast (or not) with the subject.
My medium is digital paint. Here’s more about that.
More when I finish!