Painting Portraits of Pets

Painting portraits of humans has been done for thousands of years but pet portraits are a newer trend that has been on the rise in recent years. 

Painting your own pet can be a great way to capture the unique personality and character of your pet, as well as preserving a special moment in time as a family heirloom. It can also be a fun and creative outlet for budding artists and a great way to give a special gift to a pet loving friend or family member.

To get started painting pet portraits, you’ll need a few supplies. Quality paints, a good set of brushes, and a canvas or thick paper to paint on are all necessary. Taking your own reference photos of your pet is important so that you can accurately capture their features and fur (don’t expect any pet to pose as a model for you unless you want to capture them sleeping). 

How to Paint Your Portrait Step by Step

Generally, when painting a portrait of your pet, the same principles apply as if you would paint a painting of a person from a photo. Below are a few steps to ease the process:

  1. Take your time gathering reference photos. Taking quality pictures of your pet to use as reference for the painting is the foundation for a good portrait. Make sure you set up the lighting well.
  2. Choose a suitable canvas and paints. Acrylics are the best choice for painting a portrait of your pet because they dry quickly and allow you to work with more variations in tone.
  3. Start with a rough sketch of your pet with graphite or charcoal pencil on the canvas before you start painting. This will give you an outline of the portrait, such as the shape of the head and body, the facial features and any objects you want to include in the portrait. 
  4. Begin painting. Once you have your sketch, begin painting in layers. Start with the large shapes and the areas of light and dark first, then gradually add layers of detail and color.
  5. Finish with the eyes. The eyes are the center of the portrait so give them special attention. Paint the eyes in the last layers of paint, adding tiny details that add life to the portrait, such as white reflections.

Painting pet portraits can be a fun and rewarding experience and a good way to get started painting portraits. With practice, you can develop a style that captures the unique personality of your beloved pet.

What To do With a Portrait of a Pet

The most obvious thing to do with a pet portrait is to give it to someone or to hang it in your living room but if you love the end result a lot, you can also go on and imprint it on different products and you can have custom pet pillows, mugs or even blankets. 

With time, once your skills evolve, painting portraits may be one of the most thoughtful and impactful things you can gift anyone important in your life, so it is a good skill to master.



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