I have been looking forward to paint this gorgeous dogs portrait for a long time. She is a wedding gift and I am loving all the detail. I will add the reference photo tomorrow, but she is sitting on a Hull with fields in the background and a cloudy sky, so lots of detail to get my teeth into. Just how I like it!
As you have seen before with the plain backgrounds I do with some pet portraits I add them in, in all sorts of stages, depending on my mood. For something as detailed as this I would tend to switch between the two, background and subject. Generally with more focus on the background, but with just enough work to ensure continuity between the background and subject. This is quite important to make sure the dog/cat etc doesnt look like it is just stuck on top.
Above you can see the outline of roco and where I have started mapping out the fields behind him. There are lots and lots and it looks much like a patchwork quilt. The initial stages of mapping this out took a long time. A bit like fitting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Once I had done about 50% of it, it became much easier.
Really just after this point the squares and pattern started to make more sense!
You can see I have started adding some grass around her. It helps give me an idea of how she should work with the background. You must remember final details like the grass being infront of her legs and body and whisps of fur likewise should overlap the background in places. This ‘places’ the subject in the background rather than on it. I hope that makes sense. I don’t know how else to explain it
I have made good progress on Rico, despite being hectic this week and fitting lots of things. Still not quite over, but pleased to have still squeezed in some quality portrait time.
I wanted to try and explain a little bit further on the placing the dog in the painting with backgrounds, making sure they don’t sit in top of the background and sit in it.
So here we have Cocos legs. Eventually I want blades of grass going over her legs so it looks like she is sitting in the grass not floating on top of it. For this I need to finish her legs before I finish the grass otherwise you are simply going to cover the grass up if you do it first
You can see where I have edged the grass up close to her leg but stopped. I then filled her leg in with all the detail and then added the blades of grass on top.
The same was for her whisps of fur around her head. Except this way you want to finish the background first as the fur will be overlapping!
I hope the all makes sense and if you pay particular attention to those details you will create a portrait with a good depth of field.
The good news is I managed to get this beautiful fog portrait finished today and here is the scan. My client is over the moon so I can move on to the framing tomorrow.
So I realised I hadn’t uploaded the final image of Coco. I am so pleased with this portrait, from how the tricky background turned out, to her portrait. Overall it looks amazing, I don’t often say this about my own work, but I feel this portrait and Ruby are possibly my favourite this year. I think the curly fuzzy Ozzy may sneak in there too!
Here is the scan of Coco’s portrait. I’d love to know what you think of her.