Puppy portrait colored pencil drawing time lapse
Dog color pencil drawing by atomiccircus
How To Draw A Dog Pencil Sketch

How To Draw A Dog Pencil Sketch How To Draw A Dog Pencil Sketch

Artists use a variety of different techniques to achieve their initial drawing. These include using a grid method, sketching, tracing and using projectors. However you get your initial drawing on paper, the key is to take your time and don’t press too hard. This initial sketch was made with a 2B clutch pencil. Make sure your outline drawing is correct before adding tone.

On a blank sheet of paper, begin by sketching a reference line to indicate the center of your dog’s face. This is called “blocking in” the features and is the first step in any drawing. Make sure the reference line runs between the ears and eyes and through the middle of your dog’s nose.

The ears are great fun to shade, as you’re dealing with a different texture to the rest of the dog. Poppy’s ears are silky smooth with a few light hairs on top. Pay attention to the direction you shade in, to match the undulations of the dog’s ears. Here we worked outwards, beginning nearest the head and shading out to the tips of the ears.

Careful, smooth shading keeps the eyes looking bright and shiny. Keep your pencil sharp and use small, fine movements to create a smooth texture.

Next, use your pencil to add more subtle detail. Use a light touch because it’s easier to add more shadow than it is to erase it when you go too dark. Work from dark to light across the entire surface of the drawing, gradually building up the texture.

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Once you’re happy with the initial drawing, start to add detail and tone. Here a 4B Faber Castell pencil helped to build it up. It’s possible to work across the entire portrait at once and build up, or to work on single areas at a time. We’re taking the latter approach in this portrait, starting with the eyes to bring the dog alive from the outset.

The eyes are key, because it’s the first place that anyone will look. They must have the illusion of being shiny and alive, so it’s imperative to take your time in this area. Try to look at your reference photo and then back to your drawing constantly as you work. Leave the white of the paper for highlights and white fur. Build out from the eyes into the fur, still using the 4B to shade. Shade over the white patches of fur lightly, knocking back any areas that are overly bright.

Now that you’ve outlined the shadows and highlights of your dog’s face, you can begin to focus on the details. Begin by gently erasing the guidelines you created.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, find a comfortable, well-lit place to work. Then you can get started.

Now build up the layers gradually on the top of the dog’s head. Here we used a 4B Faber Castell pencil for the darker fur, keeping it sharp. Again, work in the direction of the fur, shading the darker areas in between the lighter flecks. Use a putty eraser, moulded to a point, to lift off any unwanted tones.

It’s time to finish your drawing. Use your eraser to soften any marks that are too dark or intense. Then, use your pencil to finish the fur with even, hatched shading, particularly on the shadowed side of the face. Use coarse marks for long fur and fine marks for short fur.

The paper used here is Italian Fabriano Hot Pressed watercolour paper, and the pencils are a variety of Derwent, Steadler Mars Lumigraph and Faber Castell 2B, 4B and 6B pencils. Faber Castell’s Putty eraser and a Helix battery-operated pencil sharpener complete the drawing kit we used here. Now let’s get started.

With the basic lines of your dog’s face blocked in, you can sketch the head in more detail. Use a light touch as you draw; these guidelines should be faint so they can be erased later in the process. 

You have the basic structure and the outline, now it’s time to fill in some details. This is the stage where your dog’s portrait really starts to get form and personality.

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Add some faint lines near the eyes, forehead, and neck to suggest folds of skin and ruffles of fur. These marks should be gestural; don’t spend too much time thinking about where to place them or whether to add shading. The trick is to look, think, and set the lines down with confidence.

At this point you job is to balance tones across the dog’s whole face and ears, making sure the tones work overall. Using the 4B Steadler Mars Lumigraph, we started to add some darker tones into the nose, nostrils and darker fur. We softened the transitions and shading over areas using the Derwent HB pencil to pull everything together.

Sketch a curved line where the back of the muzzle meets the head and two lines down the face to give the muzzle some dimension. You can add hints of fur by adding a few loose lines along the shoulders and neck.

Remember, the more you observe the small changes of fur tone and texture, the finer the hair will look. The amount of final detail you choose to add will depend on how much time you want to devote to the sketch.

If you can see the real dog’s character, your portrait is done

You can add tone across the whole portrait at once, or do it an area at a time

You will also need some sketch paper, a drawing pencil, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener.

For the dog’s wet nose, block the entire area in with a 4B pencil, using less pressure than before. Poppy’s muzzle is much lighter in tone. To convey the delicate shape of her mouth area, we shaded between the white hairs on her upper lip. If you cover too many lighter hairs, just use a putty eraser to bring them back.

Continue the same kind of fur texture as you work through each area of the dog’s face, keeping your pencils sharp. With more surface area filled, here we could see that more tone needed to be added across Poppy’s forehead and ears. We worked back into those areas with a Faber Castell 6B and the Steadler Mars Lumigraph 4B. The Lumigraph creates a darker tone.

Use the eraser to work back into darker areas to soften marks as needed to enhance dimensionality.

Check that the angle matches your source photo. Notice that there’s a slight outward curve in the line through the dog’s eyes; they aren’t completely forward on the head.

When drawing pet portraits, you don’t just need to know how to draw animals: the task is capture the personality of that particular animal. You can’t just draw any dog. This sweet dog is Poppy, and she was drawn from a reference photo from her humans.

Now that you’ve blocked in the basic shape, you should be able to keep the features lined up as you draw.

Begin by adding a bit of rough shading to indicate the shadows. In this example, the light is coming from top-left, making the lower right side slightly darker. There are also shadows under the dog’s ears.

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Next, sketch the curve at the tip of the nose, the mouth, and chin. Pay attention to the spot where the plane changes here as well.

Now slowly build up the layers, starting to employ the 6B pencil, to achieve some darker tones. You don’t need the ears to be completely finished at this stage, as you can check back on these and all of the parts once the main part of the dog’s face is done. It’ll be easier to judge later how much darker they need to be compared to the rest of the portrait.

As you fill in more of the dog’s face, you can see which areas need more

You don’t want to shade everything in the drawing. Instead, “reserve” or leave some parts of the paper unshaded to suggest highlights in the eyes, nose, and fur. Work from dark to light as you shade, adding strokes in layers to create texture.

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Use soft strokes where fur is short and harder strokes where it’s long. You can use the eraser to work back over white fur to brighten it and create a softer look.

Remember that this is a sketch, not a photorealist drawing. You want to keep the drawing fresh and energetic, so don’t get too obsessed with tiny details.

Take your time shading the collar to make sure it’s correctly drawn, noting the highlights and shadows in the reference photograph. Keep the fur tones fairly light as you move down the chest to the edge of the drawing, so that it fades off nicely. Knowing when you are finished with a portrait is tricky. Stand back, look at it with fresh eyes and compare it with your photo. If you feel you’ve captured the dog in your reference photo, then you’ve achieved your goal.

In the video below, you’ll see how this dog drawing came together, and underneath the video you can read step-by-step instructions to guide you through how to draw your own dog portrait.

Block in the Shadows dog drawing – observing the subject. H South

This article originally appeared in Paint & Draw issue 8. Buy it here.

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You don’t need to be a skilled artist in order to draw a picture of your dog. All you need is a photo of your four-legged friend and a few basic drawing supplies. This simple lesson will show you how to draw a dog in just a few steps. 

Begin by choosing a suitable reference photo to work from. It doesn’t really matter what the photo is like as long as your dog’s face is clearly visible. 

Next, sketch your dog’s eyes, making sure the pupils are lined up. Then add the nose and ears. As you draw, note where there are changes of plane near the eyes.

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