Learn to Paint an Acrylic Pet Portrait: Dog Eyes | Christa Yergey | Skillshare

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Learn to Paint an Acrylic Pet Portrait: Dog Eyes

teacher avatar Christa Yergey, Loves to paint and create

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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

6 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Drawing the Eye

    • 3. First Painting Steps

    • 4. Getting into Some Details

    • 5. Fur Basics

    • 6. Finishing Touches

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About This Class

In this class, you will learn to paint dog eyes from start to finish.  I will show you how to draw the eye shapes and guide you through the painting process.  

You will need:
-Paint Surface
-*I will be painting on a small canvas board but you may use whatever surface you'd like.  If you are using acrylic paint, I would recommend canvas or wood for your surface.
-Acrylic Paint
-*Use whatever brand or type of acrylic paint works best for you.  I will be using Golden fluid acrylics for this tutorial.
-Paint Brushes
-*Again, use whatever brushes you like best.  I will be using round and cat's tongue Trekell golden taklon brushes
-Cup of Water
-Paper Towels
-Reference photo

Meet Your Teacher

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Christa Yergey

Loves to paint and create


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1. Introduction: Welcome and thank you for giving my class. I try. My name is Krista. I have a bachelor's degree in studio art with a concentration painting. So I guess I'm qualified to be teaching you some babies. This is one of Hopefully multiple follow-up courses to my dog portrait class. The dog portrait class was a broader overview of the portrait painting process. In this class you'll learn how to paint just dog eyes, which is arguably the most important part of a pet portrait. The eyes are where you capture your pets personality. So you want to do it right? You wanna do your for babies justice. I'll show you how to create your dog eyes from beginning to end, starting with the initial drawing, all the way through to the completed II painting. Now to talk about our project, the project will be to draw five is from my dog. I reference sheet that is included on the project page. Summer high-quality images and some are not. This is completely intentional. Sometimes you can't see every detail you want to see in a photo and you have to use your imagination to bring your painting to life. I do experience that a lot when I'm painting PET portraits for my, for commissions. The assignment is to choose five of these eyes to draw and paint. Definitely share your progress and please don't hesitate to ask for help or suggestions if you need them, I'm here to help you. So whatever you need, feel free to reach out to me. Just a little note, PET portraits can be frustrating at times. It really doesn't matter how experienced you are, but you just have to remember to relax and understand that these things take time, patience and many, many layers of paint. So you won't be immediately thrilled with how you're painting looks. You can't just paint one brush stroke. Be totally stoked on it. You just have to stick with it and you'll see it start to come together. In this class, I'll be showing you how to draw and paint the ninth dog I reference, starting with the very basics of drawing the eye shape all the way through again to the finished painting. So if you're ready, let's go. 2. Drawing the Eye: Just kinda take your pencil and you can see kind of the angles. So you don't want to worry about how it's rounded. You wanna see the direction of each of these angles. And you want to focus on the fact that it is shapes and lines. Don't think about it as an eye or that'll mess you write up. You just have to completely ignore what it actually is and just break it down to what shapes in weird colors and blobs there are. So what I normally do is you wanna make sure that you really should have this kind of right above where your drawling. So you're looking right at it straight on. And if you don't do that, then you risk getting the angles wrong in getting the proportions wrong because you're looking at it from weird angles. You're going to draw it at a weird angle. So you want to try and put it right in front of you, right in front of your face, right above where you're going to draw it. Okay? And then when I try to start with is the outside just like basic. So really, if you want to be super basic about it, you could just do one too. And there's the choppier i, and then the bottom 34. And then you add your curves in. So I'm going to do it just like that. So you just want to take note to the direction of this line. So you look at your pencil, gets going this way. So I really just kinda hold it here and then I just go look at it, roughly draw a line like that. Say right, close enough. So I'm just gonna go like that. And then this is what the other line looks like. So I'm just going to go boop, boop. Close enough. And you can see if you kind of put your pencil right through the middle of the eye. You can see that this side, this corner of the eye is up much higher than this corner. It's kinda like a diagonal line through there. So what you wanna do is you want to make sure that you bring this down far enough that when you draw these, that it's going to make sense. So let's see. So this line going to bring it down further, I'm making my eyes bigger than this. I'm just so it's easier for you guys to see what I'm painting it. So you want this life. And then this kinda goes like this. So you can see that this is way higher than this. Bam, look at VI act. Okay? So now that you have this weird little shape going on, now what you wanna do is pay attention to where they curve like where it softens up, where there aren't actually those angles in there. So right here, you can see that it's kind of, it's occur. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to start right here in the corner. And I'm gonna make a little baby. Doesn't have to be totally perfect. It's going to look like a doll guy. Either way. Like you don't want to be doing this. That's clearly not this. One of the tricks that they teach you. That I was taught anyway by pretty much all my art teachers, is, if you are having trouble drawing a curve or a line or whatever, correctly, what you can do is come right here and just go over it with your pencil a bunch of times. I just put the LED, the graphite down and that'll help you. So you just go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and then you come over here. It might be easier if you don't put the graphite down and just like lightly cannot go over it, do, could do, and then you go. It makes it a lot easier. It's kinda like muscle memory. And then you can make sure you're making the correct lines and curves and all that. So this is the other part of the eye. I know it's really hard to Sikhs my printer saw books, but that's why I have the other, the actual reference up for you to see so you don't have to be bothered by my terrible printer. So then as you can see, I sucked it up right here. So that's not right obviously, but that's okay. So after this curve it kinda goes more. Not straight, but it's close. It's kinda like this. And I'm going to draw this a little bit. And look at my eye below. Ok. So now my eyeballs are, isn't that great? Also, pro tip. Don't push this hard. I have a problem and I can't control myself. So all I do is just cover everything graphite. You want to be very light handed. It's always been an issue for me, always, ever since I started drawing, I just love it and loved it. Push as hard as I can look at dum, dum. Try to avoid that because then you don't have to worry about all this graphite getting into your paint. And if you need to erase it, it won't smear as much as disgusting. So now let's look at this part. So right through the center of the eye is literate for this one at least is literally right in the center of the pupil. So this was this line. So the pupil intersects with it. It just touches right up on there. So what I'm going to do is you want to look at where IT so we're, let's pretend it's not a pupil. It's a, it's a circle, fish shape, its circular shape. It is not a pupil, it is not an eyeball. It's just circular shape that goes right here. Okay. So you can see it starts up here roughly and it goes around and it doesn't go down quite as far. There's a little bit more space on the bottom. This is, so this is an important part. You have to make sure that your pupils, sorry your, whatever, the circles are in the right areas and they're touching the correct things. If you don't, you can make your dog look insane. So now I have this circle ish, pupil ish thing going on. And now we're going to do this blue high risks other circle shape. So you can see that this is much bigger obviously. So it kinda goes like all the way over to here. And then on this side, it's all the way over here. Magic will get lat. Ok. So after that, you can, I mean, you can put this in here, but I'm a slob. I wanna paint right over it so there's no point there's added in later. So what I'm gonna do is just draw roughly this eyeliner situation. And then I'm going to start painting it in. So it doesn't have to be perfect because you're going to paint over and it's just kind of like, hey, don't forget, this part is darker. Okay? So let's take a break for men and let's look at this fancy paint I got going on. So this pain is fluid acrylic. You can use any type of acrylic, it's up to you. But when you see me painting wine and you wonder why it's so thin, unlike smooth, because it's fluid, acrylic, it's very loose paint. So this this is what I use, is what it looks like. It's golden. Have white-black. I have two different blues because I'm not sure what I wanted to mix them together, but it stay low and ultramarine. This is magenta, if it looks like Alizarin crimson, but it's quote, Magenta for some reason and then burnt sienna. So really the way that I pick out what colors I'm going to use is I just, again, don't we'll get this crappy print out will be the actual paint, actual photograph. Look very closely at it. Again, you gotta keep telling yourself this is not an I. This is not anything, just colors and lines and blobs. And just look at everything and see what color do you see? Like in some of these other ones? That I like the I eyeliner around the eye? Yes. We've you look at that dog in real life. It's gonna, you're gonna, Yeah, that's black. But it could have tons of blues and purples, reds in there. So you just have to look closely. So this one I picked because it's pretty simple, pretty straightforward. Deep Blue. In real life it's black, but in this photograph it is almost black, but it's blue. And so I'm a little bit of magenta in there. It's kinda purpley. And so that's how I'm going to come in. So let's do it. 3. First Painting Steps: It doesn't really matter where you start painting unless you have like a fluffy dog with hair that covers the eye and you start with that, don't do that. You want to worry about the actual eye and the eyelids before anything else. So I usually start with the iris just because I put the most layers of paint in that area. And while each layer dries, I can work on a different part of the eye. But you can really do whatever you want. There's no right or wrong to this at all. So if you look at the iris, you can see that it's very light. It's a really light icey blue-gray. So I'm gonna start by mixing mostly white with a tiny bit or both the phthalo and ultramarine blues, as well as just a teeny, teeny tiny bit of black paint. And I'm just gonna go for it. So this color is obviously too blue and too dark, but it doesn't matter. Like I said, I'm going add so many layers on top of this. And the more layers you add, the more dimensional it becomes. So it's not a big deal at all. So after the light blue, now I'm mixing a darker gray blue using all the same color as before. Just a lot less white is involved. And I'm just gonna use the very tippy top of the brush, a delicate brushstrokes you're barely touching the canvas or water whenever you're painting on just right around the pupil and then right around the outside of the iris. So you can see if you look at the, at the photo of the eye, you can see there are darker rings about, around both the outside of the people in the outside of the iris. So we're just adding that in. You want to try and do these layers, will everything's wet. This will allow you to blend easily. It becomes much more difficult. When one of your layers is dry, you're trying to mix color into a dry color doesn't usually work. So try to keep it nice and wet. That's one of the only things about acrylic paint that can suck. If you aren't used to it. Your layers can dry before you have time to blend. So I'm starting to lighten up the middle of the iris by adding a little white with a dirty brush. And by dirty brush, I mean, I just wipe my brush really quickly or my paper towel and grab the white, a little bit of white and just brush it in that way, it keeps the White from getting too bright or too intense. So next, I'll paint the pupil. This will also need multiple layers, just maybe not as many as the iris. I'm using both blues and some black mixed together just and just filling in that whole pupil first. It's not going to look the way you want it to look right this second and that's okay. Nothing is going to look exactly the way you want it immediately. This takes time, especially if you want to realistic looking I there's so many layers involved in so much time involved. You can't expect it to be perfect after one brush stroke. So anyway, now all I'm doing is softening the line between the iris and the pupil. It just makes it look a little bit more realistic. So you don't have that harsh line between the iris and the pupil. So I completely clean my brush and dabbed it on my paper towel. So just using a clean, damp brush and gently brushing on that scene where the iris and the pupil moved. And you can see that my dark paint over took so my iris, but it's OK. Who cares? If you make a mistake? It doesn't matter because you're going to paint over it anyway. Even if you weren't planning on it, it's okay. Just dry it, paint over it. So like it never happened. It's totally fine. And just like with this, I'm going to mess with it a little bit. If it doesn't work, I'll wait until it's dry and I'll paint over it. 4. Getting into Some Details: Remember that you can use any brushes you want. I like this round brush that I've been using, so I'm going to use that for a little bit longer until I feel like it's not doing what I need it to do and then I'll switch. So pro tip, if you feel like you're struggling to create the look, you won't, you should try a different brush. Just because I'm using round brush doesn't mean that you should. It's whatever is comfortable for you and whatever helps you get the effects that you're looking for. I'm going to leave the eyeball loan for a little bit and move on to the eyelids. So dogs have sort of like you could call it eyeliner. It's not obviously it's their eyelid, but it's like a little space between their eyeball and where their first starts to grow and it just kind of looks like eyeliner. So a lot of dogs have, you know, super dark rings around their eyes and some have like, really light like peachy tones instead. But all dogs will have that little area, the hairs interest growing other eyeball. So I'm gonna take some dark gray. So I'm just mixing together black and white. So although this dog, when you look at the photo, you can look at emulate K, it's black. But although it is black, you wanna pay attention to what colors you're actually seeing in the photo. So just because it's black doesn't mean you should paint it straight black because it's not going to be dimensional at all. Just gonna be a flat black line, which is not what we want. So you want to look at it closely and see what colour is it. And you can see there's a lot of gray, which is why I'm going to use grey first. So I'm just going to start by making smooth lines above and below the eyeball. And now if you look at the for, you can see it's white but there's darkness underneath. So I'm gonna take that same gray color and add an underlayer for around the eye. It doesn't have to be perfect by any means that can be super messy. The only thing that you need to make sure you do is that you want to be sure that your brushstrokes are going in the right direction. Pay attention to where the For is and the direction the firs growing around the eye. And you need to mimic that or else it will look crazy. So it doesn't even matter if it's the wrong color, doesn't matter as long as the lines are going in the right direction you're good to go. So I know that the whites of i's are white. But in this case, especially with PET portraits, you want to paint the color you see, not the color you think it should be just like pretty much everything else. If you painted it white, it would make your dog look crazy, like insane, rabid dog. So you want to paint it the color you see. Pretend it's not the white of the eye, just pretend it's. Some random color. Make sure you pick the correct one or close to the correct one. Don't make it white. And then you're just going to fill it right in. In this particular photo of the dog, I there's like two shades in there. So I'm starts started with the darkest one and there's just like a really dark gray. And I'm just trying to like soften up where the iris meets that part of the I am just going around the entire iris with it. Nist are adding like a little highlight in there. So I just added a little bit of white to my really dark gray just to lighten it up a little bit so it's not flat CHAARTED motion that in there you want to try to keep the shape that you had that little tear duct bit. And then you just want to come out lightly brush into it. The lighter you brush over it, the smoother it'll blend together. Don't push super hard, or you'll just kind of move things around. You won't be blending anything. For the other side, it's still a light gray, are not alike grey like a medium gray. But I added a little teeny tiny bit of blue in there. Just so it's not the same exact color as the eyeliner and all that good stuff. So now back to the iris. Now I'm adding a little bit of that darker grayish blue in there around the outside. And then also, while it's wet, I just wiped off my brush and grabbed a little teeny tiny but a white I'm just kind of motion it in there, blending it in with the darker color just to make it pop a little bit. But you really just, you could just go back and forth between lights and darks in different shades until you like the way it looks. You just want to kind of make sure that you pay attention to shadows. When in doubt, paint what you see, not what you think it should look like. And make sure you step back from it every, I don't know, 30 minutes, maybe less than that. If you're just doing eyeball exercises back away from it like every five minutes. And look at it. It looks completely different when your face isn't right up against the canvas or paper. Now I'm just darkening up the pupil thing. It's black and blue. Mostly black. And now I'm putting the top part of the eyeball in more shadow. If you look at the photograph, you can see that the brow is casting a shadow and the eyelid is casting a shadow over the top part of the eyeball. So you wanna make sure that you get that in there. That's going to add another level of dimension to your painting. And again, if you paint it, you put that there. No, like well, no, that's bad. All you gotta do is dry it real quick with a hairdryer or take a little break, walk away from it. It'll dry and then you come back and you paint on top of what you just did. That's all I make tons of mistakes all the time. They're not even mistakes, doesn't matter how experienced you are. It's always, there's always a chance that you're going to not like what you do and then have to dry it and try again. Maybe a ton of times. Maybe just wants. But it's okay. Sometimes I'll paint most of a painting and they'd be like, No. And then I just I start over, I mean, I don't recommend doing that, but it is allowed. If you look in eyeball, it's got all kinds of texture in it. So you can add all kinds of texture into your iris as much as you want. There's no rules. 5. Fur Basics: So now I'm going to show you how to do some more of the fur around the eye. So you want to work from dark to light for this. The more shades that you add, the more, Again, I'm gonna say this a million times the more dimension it's going to have, the more realistic it's going to look. So I started, like I said before, with the darkest color I could see. And now I'm going to like a midtone. So it's just like a lighter gray. That's all. So I'm just using using a round brush. I'm seeing the very tippy top of it, barely bending the bristles. Very delicate touch, which is like flicking my brush to make those for strokes. And as you can see, I'm not going all the way in to that eyeliner. I'm gonna go back after and kind of blend it in because it does get significantly darker before it even gets to the eyeliner part. So I'm just kinda going around with that same color. Medium gray. Again, pay attention to the direction of the brushstrokes and the direction of the for the should match. Again, that adds to the naturalistic feel of the painting. You can't have hair going all over the place. It will not humped normal. There you can see it's starting to come together. So you want to have random variations in your lines, in your fluff, in your fur. So they shouldn't all stop at the same point, start at the same point. B, the same thickness. That's not what you want. You want it to be a little bit wild, but also have them going in the same direction. And when I say seemed direction, you can see that they don't all go in the exact same direction. Like they aren't just straight lines going in one direction. They kinda, some of them curve a little tiny bit compared to the one next to it. So some might be curving off a little teeny tiny bit to the right, so I'm a little tiny bit to the left. But as long as you're going in the same general direction, That's what you want. And then right after that you can go you can wipe off your brush and grab an even lighter gray. So add a lot more white on those white gray super light. And then go right over top so you don't want to cover everything that you just did. You want to let some of it peak through, but you want to put a decent amount on there and you're just doing the same exact thing. So those brushstrokes going in the direction of the further growth. But you want them to be a little bit wild. And again, very delicate brush strokes. The harder you push the fatter your lines you're going to get. So if you want a nice sharp for brushstroke, you have to be gentle. You can see I'm holding the brush straight up and down. You don't have to do that. You do what's comfortable for you, but you can also practice beforehand. Your pressure. You want to barely touch the canvas. So I'm adding an even lighter highlight. This is just straight white. Usually I do not condone using straight white, but we needed to stand out, so go for it. Now we're going to start doing some highlights for me eyeliner. So I mixed like a medium gray. So you can see I'm just like using the very tippy top of my brush. Again, very delicate. And I'm just kinda tapping, tapping a little bit, dragging a little bit right on that eyeliner. So I'm leaving the black one, the edges, and I'm just putting that gray in the center. And now I'm taking some dark gray, almost black and I'm just brushing it in very gently so that you don't get rid of all the gray uterus painted, but it kinda turns it down a little bit. Then you can start to add some of the darker for back in so that it blends a little bit better from the eyeliner into the white fur. So I'm just using black in a dark gray. And I'm just doing very delicate, very thin hair for brushstrokes. Just so it doesn't economy softens it up. So it's not such an intense such an intense break between the two. We're going to be a software transition. And again, if you do something that you don't like, dry it and paint over it. Not a big deal. So say you made it to dark. Okay. Let that part dry mix a slightly lighter color and just paint grade on top. You don't want to undo all of the stuff that you've done. Just wanna correct the things that you don't like. Obviously, if you are paying over the whole thing, I'm not going to stop you. But if you don't have to, why? Why do it? And now I'm adding some more highlights in the iris just to make it a little bit more. It does help to kind of move around. So I took a break from looking at that iris and then when I looked at it again, I was like, oh, this needs to be lighter. You can add some more in there. It helps when you take a break from looking at something and come back to it, you notice things that you didn't notice the first time. So that's why I'd like to jump around in my paintings. 6. Finishing Touches: And now it's time for the best part. This is what really makes the eyeball pop and it is the shine spot. So I'm just using that same round brush and you can use any brush you want. It doesn't have to be the brushes I'm using. I just really like that brush. I'm just painting the shape that I see in the picture, which is like a weird distorted square. And I just painted at solid for right now. It's white with like the teeny tiny is but a blue in there. And as you can see, I kind of I still, I jump back and forth. I did that part of the eye, the shine spot and I realized I needed to go back and add some more into the eyeliner. And that's okay. You can go back to this same sections as many times as you need to spend as much time as you want on it. And now I'm brightening up where to be brighter. Adding a little bit of white in there. And the shrine spot is not always white. It just depends on the photo. And sometimes a white shiny spot works, sometimes it doesn't. So if yours is clearly not a white shiny spot, if it's like light blue or dark blue or whatever. Definitely paint what you see and then make a judgment call after that. If you need to adjust the color, don't just go right in with white because it could make it look a little too intense. And now I'm going back in with the white for again because I can't stop myself. So all eyes are different, obviously fors all different. But this is just like a basic tutorial to kinda show you where you can start. I posted a project. So work on that project. Paint those eyeballs, draw those eyeballs, paint those eyeballs, and post it and let me see your progress and let me see your finish eyeballs.