This is probably going to sound crazy to some of you but I tend to put darks in “shadow areas” on my subject first and it gives the impression of 3d beginning in my drawing which tells me right away if something is off. Then it is a gradual process adding a little more detail, then more, then more. Typically taking turns alternating back and forth between “light” then “dark” details as I go along.
I love to put the background in first so I can see the character of the pet I am painting. Chrome is surrounded by wet on wet background washes in greens and blues. Then to make his outline pop I am adding a touch of Crimson. Doesn’t he have a great regal pose, I think he does.
Chrome owned by Cornerstone Danes in Oroville WA. Absolutely beautiful dog. Please check out their website. I loved the position of one of the pictures used as a reference but got a lot of great detail in lighting from the seconde reference photo. Here is the beginning sketch with mastick (resist) applied to the paper to help reserve the important white areas.
This next watercolor is a portrait of “Chrome” who is a stud owned by Cornerstone Danes a Great Dane breeder in Oroville WA. Her dogs are absolutely beautiful. Please check out her website.
I have been able to add tones of neutral brown to her body and face to read as gray to black fur and am now satisfied with Stella. The background is toned down and darkened enough to not compete with her face for attention. I do believe we are almost completed.
Note the crop lines around her that show the final 11×17 size.Here is how it looks after it is cropped.
Stella’s face is coming to life now adding the final darks and lights around her eyes really brings out her expression. Her nose has brought it out. The light area around her snout seems to bring her nose closer to you. With the nose I have noticed that a great deal of detail is needed to show in black and white where the wet parts are that show shine to look real. Shiny things have highlights that are not blended but instead kind of paint-by-number.
You have probably noticed that I have done a lot of work on the background painting in the tree/bush branches then putting a barage of leaves in colors ranging from light to dark green and even purple. Am still not in love with the background and will have to do more on it.
I am gradually adding warm tones to her face along with shadow work with blues, gray and brown around her eyes. A gray or black fur is best started with blue for me adding small amounts of black or purple for different tones. Reds also help and my favorite combo to use is greens and red mixes instead of black. It seems to be a better darker color. On the background, I am trying out some brown tones on the branches but am getting an uneasy feeling about how distracting it is from focus on her face.