Hand Embroidery: Pet Portrait | Floor Giebels | Skillshare

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Hand Embroidery: Pet Portrait

teacher avatar Floor Giebels, Embroidery Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Pet Portrait

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Tracing your picture

    • 4. Color guide

    • 5. Terrier dog nose

    • 6. Terrier dog layering and shading

    • 7. Terrier dog eyes

    • 8. Terrier dog ears

    • 9. Short hair dog shading

    • 10. Short hair dog nose and lips

    • 11. Class project

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About This Class

Stitch a portrait of your own or someone else's dog for a great gift!  

I remember looking at Instagram and seeing all those talented artists making amazing pet portraits with thread. I started learning the technique on my own and sharing it on my own Instagram, and soon enough I had people asking me for commissions. 

In this class we will go over the following:

  • What tools do you will need
  • How to trace your picture and how to transfer it to the fabric
  • How to pick out your colors and what contrasting colors you need
  • Shading techniques useful for portraits of long haired dogs and short haired dogs
  • How to do the details - the eyes, the nose.

Meet Your Teacher

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Floor Giebels

Embroidery Artist

Top Teacher

Hi, my name is Floor and I'm a Dutch embroidery artist living in The Netherlands.

Originally from a design background, I found my artistic freedom and expression through the more traditional art of embroidery. Entirely self-taught, I started my journey in 2016 and am continually learning new skills and applying them to my work. I also like to explore the boundaries of traditional hand embroidery by creating some pieces as mixed media, to contrast and compliment the thread itself. 

I have found that embroidery has led me to explore the textures present in the world around me - living on the coast, the beautiful beaches, scenery and animals constantly offer me inspiration for new projects. One of my favorite topics to explore in my pieces is the interplay b... See full profile

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1. Pet Portrait: Hi, my name is Floor, and I'm an embroidery artist from the Netherlands. I started with embroidery in 2016, and I was very inspired with all the embroidery artists that I saw on Instagram. Mainly, what everybody was doing on Instagram was indeed pet portrait. I started giving it a go with this guinea pig, and after that, I just kept on going. In this class, I'm going to focus on the most common one, and that is the dog. I'm going to show you how to stitch two types of dogs, one dog with long hair and the other one with short hair. In my classes, we always go from the basic, so that means that you don't need any computer or drawing knowledge, just enough confidence like me in 2016 who had never picked up a needle but decided just go and stitch something out of nowhere. 2. Supplies : I'm going to show you what you need for this project, and everything that I use. You can always look at the project page, and download the worksheets, and there you'll find all the tools that you need with a link to the Amazon US. As you can see, this is my setup for my embroidery. This is really a space that I created with the intention that it is nice for me to sit, and stitch. I really like this chair. This is a sofa chair, this is not a desk chair, so it's really low. As you can see here, this is a mount. This is actually one that is for the floor, but I cut it off and we mounted it on the table. For me it's important that it's very stable. I like to have this table. This is my light, it's a day light lamp. It has also a magnifying glass, so that I can see everything very clear. I just realized I'm out of hoops in this size. This is a hoop that I use to paint on. But for the class I'm going to use this one right now to embroider. This is a 12 centimeter hoop. I'm choosing this one because it's the right size, for it not to be too big, but also not too small. I think the general rule is, the bigger the better. If you want to have a really detailed pet embroidery, and you want to have so many details in it, and to really magnify it, it's better to go as big as you want it to be. But remember, if you make it bigger, it's a lot more work. Always keep that in mind. When you see a hoop, and you think like, "Oh, this looks cool. It's a really nice size for a hoop if I make it this big." Even a tiny bit bigger can make a lot of difference in the amount of time you're going to spend on it. This is what I'm using. I'm going to mount it in here to work on. Fabric is always a difficult one. This is poplin. These are two different types of poplin cut. Online it says that they're different, I cannot really tell the difference that much. But my advice is to just go online or go to a fabric store, and look for something that you like, something that has a nice texture, that is smooth, that doesn't have any stretch, and it is very tightly woven and that is the nice kind of white that you like. It's difficult to advise. This is exactly the kind of fabric you need. It's good to just go online, just buy a little bit of pieces here, and there, and just see what you like. Maybe you're someone who likes linen. I don't like linen because it's not that tightly woven. Linen is also very expensive, and I use a lot of fabric. My advice is to just go ahead, and buy a lot of fabric, and see what you like. For the needles, I like to use the John James ones. Not only are they such a good size, but they also come in this really cute package. We're going to need a fineliner, a pencil for the tracing, a frixion pen to draw on your fabric, tracing paper, and a laptop or a PC to use as a light box. 3. Tracing your picture: I'm going to show you how to trace your image with the use of tracing paper and your laptop. First of all, this is my dog Andy, we adopted over about three months ago. She's originally from Romania and we think she has around three years. I'm going to use her as my reference. I use my phone to make a picture of her. As you can see, the colors are a bit off, but I'm not going to use all my color reference based on the picture because colors will always look different with different lights. Use a couple pictures in different settings for the color, and use one only for the shape. Something that's very essential in all of my embroidery work is tracing paper. I tried on many different brands, but I do find that just the cheapest option is the best because you're going to need a lot, and I never noticed really any difference. For the tracing I use a pencil. This is a pencil for fabric costel. But any pencil will do actually as long as you have a pencil and an eraser to erase the lines afterwards. This is a pencil that has a really sharp tip, but again, any pencil will do. For the fine liner again, any fine liner will do whatever you're comfortable with. This is the hoop I'm using. This is actually a hoop I use for painting, but it's really the size I want to use and it's the only one I have left, so I'm just going to use this one for now. I'm going to place my hoop over the image and see how big I want the image to be. At this point, the image is too big, so I'm going to make the image smaller on my computer. This is the size that I want to have. It doesn't matter what computer you have, you can always make the image smaller on your computer. It's a good idea to use your embroidery hoop as a template so you can see what image you're going to end up with. I'm now going to grab my tracing paper and place it over the laptop screen. I'm going to use my pencil to go over all the lines that I think are necessary in embroidery project. The first thing I'm going to do is to go over the prominent features of the dog's face, starting with the nose. Another great thing about the tracing paper is that you can let the rest on your laptop. It doesn't matter if it moves, it's always the right size. Don't worry about damaging your laptop. If you do it gently, you will not damage it at all. Focused on the prominent lining of the nose. When you make your guide, you have to think like it is embroidery, so what direction am I going to stitch in? It's important to know if you need to have a dark color or a light color and when is that color going to stop. If you look at the part above the nose, you can see that there is a clear contrast within the hairs growing up and the hairs are going sideways. Here I see a change in color. I'm going to make a line there, so I know that I need to stop with the color I'm using in that specific part. For the longer hairs, I just use little stripes to know what direction I need to go in. I use more stripes if I want to make it clear that I need a contrasting color in between. Here you see me highlighting the darker hairs. I'm now going to speed up the video and slow it down once we go over tracing the eyes. With the eyes, it is important to trace the shape of the pupil and the place where it hits the light. It's important to have the little white specks in the same place because it can look odd if one eye has it in another direction. This also goes for the pupil. Here you see a very clear change in direction of the hairs. Now that I'm done, I'm going to outline it with fineliner. The reason we do this, is that we want the lines to be as clear as possible. When you are done, it's time to place the image on the window. Take your embroidery hoop and place it flats against a window. I'm using my friction pen to go over the lines. When I'm done, I can use a blow dryer and the lines will disappear. 4. Color guide: Color guide. In this part, we are going to talk about how to pick colors and different tools you can use. A quick warning for the people with OCD because this might be triggering. What I like to do is I buy lots of thread. Sometimes it's DMC in bulk from eBay. That is really cheap or some off brand ones. I also go to thrift shop and buy thread. Some people are amazing at keeping all the threads organized, but I am clearly not that person. I do wish I was like that, but I just don't have that level of organization in me. What I usually do is I look at my picture and zoom in, and from the reference of that picture, I choose my colors. I first look at the colors for the nose. When I look at the nose, I see lots of brown. I'm going to take lots of brown and cool colors and also warm colors. I just go in my box of threads and cut off the pieces that I think I'm going to need. I usually take all the shades that I can find for the color I'm looking for. I also take shades in between colors I need. For instance, this is a shade between brown and gray. I can imagine that most people don't have this huge collection of thread and likes to pick out the color beforehand. A really good option is to buy the DMC color book. That way you can buy the threads you actually need. It's such a nice way to really look at the colors and see what works. I can highly recommend doing this. 5. Terrier dog nose: The first dog portrait, we are going to focus on the dog with long hair that has lots of different color shadings. The first thing that we're going to do is the nose. You can use two strands or one strand. Personally, I like to use one strand because you can get so much more detail, and it will look way more realistic. I'm going to start with the nostril, and I'm going in with my needle in the other stitch. We call this split stitch, and it is a stitch we will use almost all the time. For the nostril, I'm using black because that is going to be the darkest part of the nose. The same goes for the underlining of the nose. After the underlining, I'm going to use dark gray going up above. After that, I'm going further up using a slightly lighter gray for the rest of the nose. To make it more realistic, I'm going to use a light gray thread under the nostrils. This will give it more depth. On top of the nose is where the light hits so I'm also using light gray in that spot. Here, you see that I already did half of the face just so you can see how it's going to look and what I did to make it look like that. 6. Terrier dog layering and shading: You all ready went over the nose. I have submitted, I'm not doing precisely as the picture. I also wanted to make it a bit different because where you see the lighting of my picture, it is very heavily saturated. It's like in the sunlight and exactly how the lighting normally is. I wanted to have it a little bit different than that. You look at the picture, and you'll see that over here hear bits of lighter pieces. You see that I'm keeping these markings. I'm going to hold myself onto those markings. Now, I am going to do with some part the long and short stitch. Don't hold onto the long and short stitch because not always will it be a long and short stitch because I love people always ask like, "Oh, what kind of stitch is it? It is a long or short stitch?" Not always. Now we're going in with the dark brown. You see that everything is actually just layering. Something that is also a good tip, what I almost never do is I almost never take threads out. If I don't like the end results, I stitch over it. So at every move, I'm going to tell you why I'm doing this. Here I want to have still the brown because in the picture you can also see that there is still brown there and here is really where the light was falling on. Here I'm going to go into the halo. I want to go in with a gray and I have a light gray and a dark gray. First, I'm going to use the dark gray and this is also a different technique that you can do, stick with dark and fill the whole area with dark and then go over it with another color. Here I'm just going to go in the other thread, and here I go in the middle of the other. Now you see that I'm making a bit more of a curve. Is that as what we're drawing here? I'm going to make a curve into all those stitches. We're just going to fill this in which is dark color. Now, that I've filled everything with the dark, I'm going to highlight it to make an extra contrast and to give it more life. I'm going to go in with some lighter gray. Put that in between at the end. I'm going to use this one to level out a bit further, so my base is really the dark gray and now I'm going to go over it with dark. You see it's all about layering. Here, I'm going to go in gray once. Over every string of gray, there is a brown. What I'm now going to do is I'm going to use this one that I choose out and layer it again. As you see here, I also did that. I'm going to do that in the middle. Now, I did all the stitches with a light color and now you can really see that there is so much movement and how it looks. Now, I'm going to use the dark. Now I'm going to go in, first here, and I'm just going to go all the way up to this other point that we marked here. What I'm actually first going to do is I'm going to go over those lines that we made and make sure that those lines are covered and then I can fill in the rest with this color. You see that I now fill that entire space with brown. To want to make the edges, I want to make them more dark. I'm going to go in with this dark gray and then I'm going to squeeze that again in between the other treads. Again, this is to make subtle differences in the color. Here's where I wanted to make the difference because here is where we've got the whites. Now, I'm going to look at my picture and I'm going to see where the white starts. What first going to do is I'm just going to fill that area with white. Now, this is white but we want it also to have a little bit of dimension in here. How we're going to create it is we're going to take a light gray. I'm going to go in at the ends and blend it there right in. But to be honest, if I'm now looking at it, I don't know if it has that much contrast. I'm going to look if I have one shade darker and miracle I do. This is one shade darker. I'm going to take that one. I'm not going to remove anything, I'm just going to go right in. It's one shade darker and it doesn't make that much of a difference but anyway it does. The eye is really something that makes the piece in my pen. What we're going to do is we're going to first frame it with black. This one, I'm really looking at the reference picture to see how the eye is looped. I'm going to start with a black outline. 7. Terrier dog eyes: The eye is really something that makes the piece in my opinion. What we're going to do is we're going to first frame it with black, and this one I'm really looking at the reference picture to see how the eyes look. We start with a black outline. When I look at the eye and I look at the eye in the picture, I can see that there is also a little bit of white on the side, so I'm going to take my pen and I make that a little bit visible on the side, I'm going to take my white, so here I see really the white coming in. Now if you look at it, we can see that we need some brown. Here I make the line, the little dot for the black and we're now going to go over that. Now I'm going to go ahead and make the brown eye, what I'm using for that it's just a normal brown and then a light brown. We go in and trying to blend this. What I said before, don't always look at your reference picture. Also look at the embroidery itself and what looks good. You're just going to make two strands of two stitches and look at [inaudible] doing this. It's usually close to the pupil. Let's see if I can make a little bit more here. This has also to do with your hands being sweaty. But if your experiencing is node at its normal, see, I don't know, I want to have it more. 8. Terrier dog ears: Now we're just going to repeat. I'll first go in with the dark and then we're going to go over it with the golden brown. Again, I'm doing it a bit different than the reference picture. The hairs are going this way so that I really want to maintain. What I'm now going to do is I'm going to frame it with this color because I also did it on the other side to make it a little bit stand out more as an eye. Here I'm going to go in with the light brown and I choose here to go on top of the threads because it does give it a different look if I go on top of the treads than in-between if that makes sense. In a minute, we will also play around a little bit with the light. I'm going to take some chats that are a bit lighter, just so you have a little bit of a contrast with the eyes and going upwards. It doesn't matter if you're like, "Oh no, I forgot about that. I forgot to do about that." Don't matter because you can always go back and do it like I'm doing now, going in with really a contrast one. Now I'm going to use my brown and afterwards, I'm going in and do a little bit more shading. Now that we're almost done I'm going to do the ears and then I'm just going to do some things that I think need improvement that I already see. You can do a little bit of a touch-up. Everybody went in with a lighter color because when you have ears, ears are always smooth. With a dog, they're always very smooth and soft. When something is very smooth and soft that means it has a high shine. With this, you're sure that there is a shine. I'm now going to put the finishing touches on it, but I think she could be improved. These ones are not long enough. I'm going to make these a little bit longer. What I also want to do is get myself a brown, this brown, and I want to get rid of the white here. I don't think it's nice, and I just want to show you how easy it is to just make adjustments to your piece. Because here I'm like, "Nope." I'm not liking this. I could also do with a little bit of more eyeball black. Here I'm going to try and make this eyeball a bit bigger. Here you see the end results. In the end, I added some white hair on the top. It is a bit different than the picture, but I love how the layering worked out and the different colors that shine through. 9. Short hair dog shading: We are going to focus way more on the accuracy of the picture. I'm also going to do it in a smaller version. This version will be around eight centimeter. I'm not going into detail on how to trace the image. In this part, we are focusing on the shading parts. This is my best friend's dog Shusha. My friend is very excited about me giving her pet portrait. This dog is perfect for what I want to show. I really want to show you how to create depth in a short-haired dog and showing that shine in a black fur. This is the tracing image I created for this piece. You can see how different it is from the last one. In this piece, I'm focusing more on the shapes and looking at the picture itself. Here you can see that all the parts that I had to make black. I already made them black, so there's no other colors involves it's just black. I left some space open between the head and the ear. That's where I'm going to show you how we're going to do the shading in that transition. I'm using a dark gray to highlight the ears, as you can see on the picture. Now you already see that it gives the illusion of shine. I'm also going to put some lighter gray to make it pop a little bit more. First, I'm going to go over and do a [inaudible] that are going to go over. I'm going to do that with a medium gray. We have a nice little shine going on there, and now I'm going to go over to the eyes. I'm going to go over all these on the side. I'm going to use dark gray. It's a gray that is a bit to the bluish side. I'll just go like this for myself just see know direction I need to go. I wouldn't go with the dark gray. What I now did is I made everything white that has to be white. I did already the eyes because I showed you already in the other video how to do that. What I did is I made everything plain white. There is no shading going on whatsoever. I haven't done the nose and this bit. What I'm now going to do is I'm going to do the shading of white, and I'm going to do the nose and the lips. The thing that I now did is I made it white but I looked at the stitch direction of the picture. The technique that I'm now going to do is I'm going to go in and shade it. Instead of making different parts, I just made it all white, and I'm going to go in and shade it. I'm going to have my project bag again, and that I'm going to fill the colors that I need for the nose first. This is what I'm going to have for the rest. I'm seeing a lot of brown mixed with whites. I have that and we have black and we also going to need some lighter brown to even it out. Now if I go to the lips, there's also a dark brown. This is same as the nose, so I'm going to use this dark brown also for the lips. When I look here, this is also brown. But I notice that I need also a lighter gray, so I'm also going to put some lighter grays in it. 10. Short hair dog nose and lips: First thing that we're going to do with nostrils just like the other nostrils, is we're going to make it black because that will be our darkest part. Now if you look at the nose, you can see that the darkest part is always on the top. In the middle, I'm going to take away lighter shade till I emphasize on that light that is shining on a nose. Maybe too light so I'm going to switch with gray. I also wanted to show you this process to see how I determine stuff. How do I figure the color? I try and then if I see it's too bright, it's too light, or it doesn't work, I'll go back and go over it with a different color. Now we're going in with a lighter shade to show the reflective light of the nostrils. Wait, where is the reflective that's really on the tip here? Sorry, it wasn't [inaudible]. The lips are very brownish. There is more brown than white. I'm going to fill this area now with brown. Now, I have done the mouth, but now I see that on the picture, there is also a line of white underneath. I'm first going to do that. Here, I'm going to go in with dark again because now these little hair look like teeth and we definitely don't want that. Now I'm going to go over again with it with the white because I want the brown to shine through. I'm going to layer it now with white. Because I am going to use now gray, I'm just going to do very short little stitches. Okay, this is close, and I'm going to get I think it's the realistic thing. What I'm now going to do is I'm going to make very short stitches go towards, any shorter than this, to go towards the mouth. Now I'm going to do some shading with a gray color and I'm going to do it next to the eye. It's a little bit right next to the eye, as you can see in the picture and we're going to go in and shade that part. I'm just going to follow the lines of the direction I already made. I'm just going to go right in there. I do want to loosen up these bits because I do feel like it's a bit harsh. Just going to make a row next to each other so you get the illusion of a shadow. Where do we see more shadow? We see shadow here, at the ears. It's little touches, but it can make a whole difference. Now here, we really put in some shadow, which is I'm wanting to make one the last one. But it's also good to put random shadows and sometimes just so it's not one white substance, white, black. Because dogs are never really white, are they? The last shading I want to do is on the neck. You can now really see that what it does, the shading on the neck, how much it makes a difference. I love the end results. The shine is so pretty, and because it's smaller, it's a project that does not take that much time and it's not that difficult to do. 11. Class project: For the project section, I made a PDF that you can download, and within that PDF, you see this picture. These vectors are great for tracing and using the same shading as in the picture. It is so much fun to give as a gift when your friend has a husky or a pug. I would love to see all the pet portraits you made uploaded in the project section.