How To Watercolor Paint A Pet Portrait: For Beginners

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Painting is an art of expression, something that you express on paper or on canvas. Portraits can be a tricky thing to do but what gets trickier is pet portraits. If you know the techniques right and have the right guidance for it you will ace it smoothly. The difference in doing a pet portrait in watercolor is that water involved in the process needs to be handled with care and utmost intricacy. In this article, we provide you with an interesting as well as important guide on how to do pet portrait in water colour painting the right way. We assure you once you have read it thoroughly your next pet portrait will not just be an enjoyable one but also on point!

Materials Used For Pet Portrait In Watercolor Painting

  • H Graphite pencil
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Nylon brushes
  • Watercolor paints and a Palette
  • Reference picture of the pet
  • Cold pressed watercolor paper

  1. The Loose Sketch

Alike every other type of painting, watercolour painting also requires the initial first sketch. The outline should be loose, without much shadowing and shades, so that in case you are not satisfied with it, it can be easily erased.

  1. The First Wash

Once the outline is done, focus on the prime elements like the head and shoulder. Everything else can be eliminated at this point so that you don’t end up doing all of it at once and then creating a mess. Before that, wet the entire sheet and then start applying colours so that you don’t have hard edges. Once the first wash dries up, start with the eyes first because that it is the most important element on the face. Create the pupils in a way that they make the pet’s face come alive and make it look realistic. However in doing this, ensure that the amount of water that you use on the paint brush is not much that it starts creating blots and bubbles in the paper.

  1. Deepen The Colours

Once the first wash is done, you will notice that the colours have deepened and the features begin to become more definite. If you want to want to add more tone to it, you can add more layers of paint over it but ensure that you do not overdo it. Do understand that in case of watercolor painting, it is easy to turn a light tone to dark but difficult or next to impossible to turn a dark tone to a lighter shade.

  1. Background

In case of a watercolour paint, the background is ideally contrasted with the colour of the object so that it makes the painting look vivid. The reason for this is that watercolor is not as thick as other forms of paint. Hence it is advisable to pay good amount of attention to the contrast in the painting, which is possible through a bright background against the object or pet.

  1. Highlighted Areas

If you want some areas of the face or the pet’s body to be highlighted leave it for later on so that through the process of it you do not end up over emphasising on one area over the other. The idea is to make the pet portrait look as realistic as possible. The nose is one area of the pet’s face where you can experiment with either a lighter shade or a darker shade depending on the light and exposure in the reference picture.

  1. Softer Edges

As we mentioned above, the edges of the painting should not be hard and therefore it is advisable to wet your brush on water before you apply on paper and then move the brush over the layer that you want to soften. Also, add shadow to the painting to avoid any kind of straight edges.

  1. Fur

When it comes to the fur, begin with the darker patches first and the move to the lighter area to create a watercolor effect around it.

  1. Are You Done?

You have to keep looking at the painting over and over again to ensure that it is turning out to be as you desire. Once all the detailing and touch ups are done, leave it as it is and do not make efforts to overdo things. You can add more details to areas like the eyes and nose so accentuate the overall painting but if you see it is already satisfactory you know you are done with the pet portrait!

So what’s the wait now? Go ahead, pick up your brushes and create beautiful strokes and paint from your pet’s photograph. Experiment with colours, it is okay if it is not as satisfactory as you have expected it to be. Over the period of time and with good enough practise you will start getting better.