Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Painting Dogs - Easier Than It Seems

A watercolor painting by Karen A. Cooke
Following along with painting animals from last week, this week's post discusses how to paint a bulldog.  I am not a "detail" painter and prefer a more Impressionist style of painting, the bulldog painting, conveys the dog's personality without detail - not even detailed fur.    However, you can add as much or as little detail in your painting as you like and that fits your style of painting. 

Below, I have again included some tips on painting fur from last week's blog post:
  1. Most animals will have different types of fur in their coat - short smooth, long wispy  and thick/clumpy fur.
  2. Animal fur is thick and will require layers of color and or detail.
  3. When working with watercolor it is important to paint the lightest color fur first and build up the darker layers.   The light base color is painted first with brush stokes placed on top. 
  4. Vary your brush stoke to keep the fur from looking uniform.  Animal fur is usually a little bit "scruffy" and unkempt looking. 
  5. Also, be certain to leave some white unpainted areas for highlights. 

The watercolor above was painted on Arches 140 lb. cold press paper.

Supplies Needed:
Watercolor paper (size of your choice)
Masking Tape
Watercolor board
Brushes: round, liner and flat or fan
Spray Bottle of water
  • Sepia
  • Black
  • Payne's Gray
  • Crimson
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Mars Black
Note:  The colors above are the ones I used to paint the dog above.  Your paint colors will vary based on the color of the animal you are painting. 

Painting Instructions:
Sketch the basic shape of the dog with the most detail and attention given to the eyes, nose and mouth.  The detail of the body will be shaped by the color of the fur to define and shape.  

I painted wet on wet by first wetting with clean water sections of the dog's body that I wanted to paint.  I left a dry, white area in places where I did not want the color to blend.  This white area will help define the shape of the dog rather than having one large painted area.  This gives shape without having to define it with color.  In the case of this bulldog, it also indicates areas of wrinkled skin.  Blend your colors allowing some of the painted areas to be lighter than others. 

The ears are painted in the same manner as the body per the instructions above.  Vary the intensity of the paint leaving some areas white.  Refer to photo above.

Paint the eyes.  In this case the dog's eyes are brown.  Use a wash and paint the outer section of the eye with this color and allow to dry.  Paint the pupil last leaving a small white dot of white paper unpainted.  Allow to dry.  Using a liner brush or a watercolor pencil (see tip below) outline the eye.  Allow to dry. 

TIP:  Watercolor pencils can be used to help outline and define the eyes.  This is especially helpful if you feel uncomfortable or unsteady using a fine liner brush for details.  Steady hands come with practice and becoming comfortable with painting.  However, remember - it is only paper!

Nose, mouth and muzzle area:
Using a pale wash of Crimson, paint in the lower muzzle leaving some areas lighter fading into white unpainted paper and drop in some Payne's Gray.  Allow to dry.  Using a pale wash of Payne's Gray to add shading and color in in the nose and lower muzzle.  Refer to photo above.  Add dots of color using the tip of a round brush for the part of the muzzle where the whiskers are growing.  Allow to dry.  The nose is painted with Payne's Gray leaving some areas white and using black to deepen some of the areas. 

Using the liner brush and black, brunt umber and burnt sienna, paint in a few details to indicate lines, claws, etc.  Refer to painting.  Don't let this become too involved. 

Using Crimson and Payne's Gray in a very light wash, add a shadow in the foreground to help "ground" the dog in place rather than leaving him "floating." 

Check for any other details you would like to add.  When you are satisfied,  sign you painting!


Happy Painting!

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