This week, as I'm working on some pet portrait commissions, I thought it would be nice to share my process and some of my favorite drawing materials. i absolutely love animals, so i started making pet portraits with the desire to capture their personalities and commemorate their friendship with us. i chose to render them in watercolor pencils with a brush pen outline, to give them both detail and whimsy.
my portrait process starts with a great reference photo, selected from what my client sends to me. i like to choose a well-lit photo where the pet looks super happy! sometimes i will print out the photo and sometimes i just use my phone as a reference. i make most of my art in my apartment living room using a big drawing board, and i prefer to listen to podcasts with headphones while i draw and paint to eliminate distractions and keep me focused.
here is a collection of my most-used drawing tools:
- blue painter's tape
this is the best tape ever, and useful for so many different projects. i use it mostly to attach paper and reference photos to my drawing board because it won't tear or rip the paper. i also love to use it for watercolors when i want to maintain a clean, white border.
- watercolor paper
i recently discovered ready-cut sheets and i'm wondering how i ever did commissions without it. i like using strathmore watercolor paper, it's affordable for the quality and easy to find. for larger-scale works i like to spring for arches paper.
- pencils and eraser
i'm pretty sure i have more pencils that i could ever hope to use in a lifetime (and still i find excuses to collect more), but i always find myself reaching for my favorite staedtler mars lumograph 100s. when making the initial drawing for a pet portrait, i like to use a light 6h. of course a white vinyl eraser is also key for when you're not satisfied with a mark.
- ruler, viewfinder
i use these tools to help me place my composition and measure out my drawing space. i obviously love a clear ruler so i can see what's happening underneath it.
find similar here: http://www.officesupersavers.com/viewItemsAct.asp?classlabel=ZPAF&manufactlabel=3100274&sku=ACM10562&gb=1&utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=comparsionshopping&gclid=Cj0KCQjwjdLOBRCkARIsAFj5-GDqtZbCi7VHb8IJAU4H18M-K6g86VBL33mB6n1WBnYh07rnT66xZcgaAjX6EALw_wcB
here's a great tutorial to make your own viewfinder:
my go-to brushes for pet portraits are windsor and newton sceptre golds, series 101. they're great pointed rounds for detail made from a blend of sable and synthetic. i'm not saying they paint like the finest sable brushes, but they're a great compromise for the price!
- brush pen
i know i'm not the only artist who loves the pentel pocket brush pen. if you don't already have one, do yourself a favor and buy one immediately!
find it here: https://www.dickblick.com/products/pentel-pocket-brush-pen/?clickTracking=true&wmcp=pla&wmcid=items&wmckw=21894-1001&gclid=Cj0KCQjwjdLOBRCkARIsAFj5-GAewotadowkhbYebs5pUC3cfXd4bp8Rv6spzmWjqoWT94DdInWXZ6AaAo_AEALw_wcB
once i've sketched out my drawing with a light 6h pencil, it's time for the most important part: the color!
- watercolor pencils
i've had my set of staedtler karat aquarell watercolor pencils for the better part of a decade, and they continue to be one of my favorite mediums. you can use them dry as regular pencils, but once you brush water over your drawing it magically turns into beautiful watercolors. i like the control you get from using a pencil, and finishing with a brush and water makes blending colors really easy.
find similar here: https://www.dickblick.com/products/staedtler-karat-watercolor-pencils/?clickTracking=true&wmcp=pla&wmcid=items&wmckw=20504-2409&gclid=Cj0KCQjwjdLOBRCkARIsAFj5-GC1yJAN00UTs5Q65RWo-J42qhpQ1IOxOnEiSqEQ0mPGXeKTkGhV3bAaApqPEALw_wcB
after using the watercolor pencils to color in my drawing, i use a brush and clean water to blend the colors. once it dries, the drawing gets outlined in black brush pen, finishing with the pet's name in a ribbon banner at the bottom.
check out my gallery of commissioned pet portraits here!