Your Mutt, the Muse: An Introduction to Illustrated Pet Portraits | Jenny Williams | Skillshare

Your Mutt, the Muse: An Introduction to Illustrated Pet Portraits

Jenny Williams, Writer, Editor, Artist

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9 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:11
    • 2. Choosing reference photographs

      3:30
    • 3. Creating a values sketch

      5:27
    • 4. Tips and tricks for dogs

      3:55
    • 5. Ideas and inspiration

      2:09
    • 6. Digital collage

      10:34
    • 7. Cultivating themes

      2:00
    • 8. Expanding your line

      6:25
    • 9. Wrapping up

      0:51

About This Class

This class will guide you step by step in the creation of a distinctive series of pet portraits, using your very own dog (or cat, or parakeet, or llama...) as inspiration. You can work in any medium, from painting to collage to digital illustration. Beginners are welcome! Expand your creative comfort zone while you learn how to choose the best reference photographs, capture an animal’s personality, and craft a cohesive “look” that connects your portraits thematically. You can expand your final project into a full line of prints or launch a custom pet portrait business. Plus you’ll have a meaningful collection of images that pay homage to your favorite pet!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi and welcome to your mutt. The Muse. A skill share class on Pet Portrait's My Name is Jenny Williams on the creator of the 66 Dogs Project, a series of hand painted portrait's of adoptable dogs. The goal of the project is to give a little extra publicity boost to dogs that might be overlooked because of age or breed or some other reason. I've also been a student on skill share, so it's kind of fun to be on this side of the screen. This class will walk you through the steps of creating a unique line of animal portrait's using your own pet as inspiration. By the end of the class, you'll have three or more completed animal portrait's that are thematically connected. The class is designed for a broad range of illustrators and designers, including total beginners or people who don't think of themselves. Artist. You definitely don't have to be experienced in any specific medium or design software. Just choose something you're comfortable with and excited about before we get started. Here's what you'll need for the class animal models and or access to photographs, pencil and paper for just for initial sketches and then whatever materials you'll need for your chosen medium. So pens, paints, paper, software and so on. And then finally, you'll need a way to share your completed work, either by taking pictures of what you've done or scanning it or just uploading the final images, even though I'll be focusing on dogs. When I present examples, please feel free to draw cats, horses, iguana whose birds really anything you like. Your first assignment is to choose. One specific animal is your muse. If you don't have a pet, you can borrow a friend's or ask your local animal shelter. If you can use one of their adoptable residents as inspiration for this class, I'm also going to be creating a new line of Dog Portrait's. I've been doing the 66 Dogs style for about a year, so it seems like a good time to try out something new. 2. Choosing reference photographs: I have chosen Milosz as my muse. My list. This lovely boxer right here. This is my friend Janine, who is Milas person. We, the three of us, lived together in Brooklyn for a couple of years during grad school. So I know my list personality really well, and it was easy for me to get a handful of pictures, so you can see that I've got seven pictures here, which is a pretty good number. I When I'm working for clients, I ask for at least five. Um, sometimes I get more than that. Most of the time I get less. I will say that you can work from a single photograph, but it doesn't give you a lot of flexibility. Having more than 10 photographs, like having 15 or 20 can be great. But in general, if, as long as you've got kind of a range of poses and variety of photographs to work from more pictures doesn't necessarily have any added value. So we're not looking for beautiful pictures here. It's nice if you have lovely pictures, but really, we're not looking for composition. We're not looking for an artsy feel. We're not looking for anything except variety, clean lines, good light. As you can see, we have a pretty good variety of poses. Here we have some of her standing up. We have some with her full body, which is nice because some dogs have special markings on the rest of their body that you wouldn't necessarily know if you didn't have a full body picture. We have pictures of her sitting down pictures of first standing up. Um, we have pictures that are close ups of her face. It's also nice toe have both of these close ups this one and this one. Because in this one, for example, you get a stronger sense of the actual color of her eyes. And in this one there just kind of dark spots. So it's good to have some variety in that sense, so I'll be using all of these photographs as reference photographs. But for my actual portrait, I'm going to be choosing just one to sort of zoom in on and focus on when I'm when I'm creating my portrait, I tend to gravitate towards head shots just because I feel like a lot of the dog's personality is in the is in the face but it really depends on the dog. So for Franklin, for example, he was kind of a big dog in a small body. So I wanted to play with that a little bit. But then when I do, Jack, you know, Jax just has those amazing eyes. So I really wanted his gaze to pop out. I think for Milon, I'm kind of torn between, you know, the silly sweet mile a picture and the close up of her face. Um, I think I'm going to go with the close up just because feels a little bit more regal. Um, I like I don't like the seriousness of her pose. Sort of dignified. So this is the photograph I'm gonna choose for now and then will we'll see where it takes us. So your second assignment is to collect 5 to 10 photographs. Onda upload at least five to the project gallery. 3. Creating a values sketch: in this class, We're going to do our first sketch. This is not a masterpiece. So don't worry if you don't have any experience drawing before, um, it's really just another way for you to start thinking about the overall shape of your portrait and specifically the values. So the contrast in lights and shadows, I just I'm using, you know, this is normal printer paper and the first pencil that I picked up, it's not even sharpened. It doesn't have a real racer. No one is going to see this sketch except for you. So I have said in my workspace that I have my reference photograph here in front of me on then my sketching area here. Okay, so I'm just gonna walk you through the way that I would do this sketch. I'm going to give myself just a couple of minutes. I like to start with the top of the head because it's a good It just feels like a good place to start. You got to start somewhere. Um, and then I kind of get a sense of how big the head is, where we're working. I try to get the nose and there as early as possible because it's also a good anchor. It's a good way to think about, you know, proportions relative to the rest of the head. This little wine that comes down from the through the nostril down to the mouth is another good way to anchor yourself. I love boxers. They have that big, beautiful, downturned mouth. The idea here is just to get the basic shape. So we're not really worried about how accurate we are, forgetting everything just right that here on the side and the eyes, her eyes lower, it's kind of wide eyed there. Okay, so I got the basic, You know, these basic shapes. Um, Now what I'm gonna do is start filling in some of the values. What I like to dio is, um, villain. The darkest spots first gonna be thinking about values in three different ways. The darkest, the middle values and then the lightest values. Darkest values tend to be the nostrils and under the years, always those nice shadows. So we've got those ear shadows and here and also over there, you don't really have to make the you know these shadings, particularly intense or anything, and see that Milo has some really nice dark areas around the eye, and then it kind of reaches down around her. Muzzle the nose tends to be a darker middle value for sure. Some dogs have really light noses. So you want to be aware of that? Mm. Milas mouth has got all this dark area here. This is also, I would say, the darkest value. And here around her mouth, a little bit down under her, her jowl got the dark spots on the other side. And I love these little spots right here. Dogs tend to have, like, a kind of nice eyebrow. Um, thing going on, I'm not representing it very well here, but sure, we'll revisit it later. Sketches on DSA Shadows under here where the light doesn't hit some shadows. And here again, we're just trying to be approximate. We're not trying to create a masterpiece, So there we go. I think that looks pretty good. Um, you'll notice that I don't I haven't filled in the eyes. Tend not to do values for eyes just because the photograph I'm working on usually isn't representative of the eyes. Anyway, um, if you want, you can also, you know, Turn your photograph into a black and white picture, and that sometimes helps get a sense of the different shadows when you can't really see it because, you know some colors are darker than others. If you don't want to compare colors, this could be a new, easier way to do that. So there we go. So there's my values sketch again. The key here is that we want to create a portrait in the end that has a really nice range of values, so it's not mostly dark, so it's not mostly lights. We want to make sure we're covering all of the values, from the lightest to the darkest shades. So if your if your photograph doesn't actually have any super light colors, now is the time to think. OK, where can I make the lightest of the dark shades even lighter so that we represent the whole range? If that makes sense, 4. Tips and tricks for dogs: before we launch into our first portrait. I just wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I found from working with dogs over the years on. The 1st 1 is just practice. The more dogs you draw, the better you'll be at drawing dogs, especially if you work with different breeds and different styles and different poses. It'll become almost second nature to see shapes and patterns. Um, you know, when you come across a new dog or started new portrait, the second tip is that personality and dogs tends to concentrate in a few particular places . Um, namely the ears, the eyebrows and the smile. So these are places that I like to emphasize or exaggerate when I do, Portrait's um, you can see goony MK 11 here and Prince to my favorite dogs from $66 project. In both cases, I made their ears really perky and kind of brought in shadows around their eyebrows in their eyes to give him that really sweet, inquisitive, curious look. Selena and Flame both also have those nice, perky ears, and in both cases I've pulled up their smile just a little bit like just a tiny tiny bit given them that extra little grin. And in flames case. I've even given him some little smile wrinkles there to emphasize that with Dio and Micah, you can see that they've both got those really fun, big floppy tongues. And another thing I want to point out with, um is that both of them, you know, show their teeth. But I have deliberately kind of generalized he that I don't outline each tooth, even if the values study in that photograph might suggest it. So teeth. When I draw them, you know, they tend to just be kind of vague or outlined white spots, other areas that might give people some trouble pause so much like human hands. People tend to be a little bit afraid of drawing. Pause. Uh, they're really pretty straight forward again. The more you draw, the better he'll get. You'll get at it with Ruby, you can see that I've given a little bit more detail to her pa her nails or in their and her duclaw. But for the most part, you probably will only need Teoh kind of give a general, you know, suggestion of feet and pause rather than you know, really detailed images. A few other things toe. Look at when you're drawing dogs, you'll want to look at the size and the shape of the nose in comparison to the head and the muzzle. You want to look at the distance between the bottom of the nose and the top of the lips, the mouth. You'll want to look at the length of the nose. You'll want to look at the size and shape of the ears and relationship to the head so some breeds, like Chihuahuas, have those gigantic ears that stick straight up. And other dogs have teeny tiny little ears or ears that flop over. Honey had this one ear that always flopped over in that same way. And so when I drew her portrait, I felt like if I drew a portrait that didn't include that one floppy ear, I would be missing a really key part of her personality. So a lot of it when you're drawing your first portrait is just thinking about this particular dog. And if you had to distill this dog, this dog's personality, their essence, you know, into one single future, what would it be? And how can you emphasize that in your portrait 5. Ideas and inspiration: if you haven't already started to do so. Now is probably a good time to collect ideas and inspiration for what you want. Your final portrait toe look like I personally don't use mood boards, but I know a lot of people who dio. So if that's something that works for you, I would love to see some mood boards in the project gallery. Um, I tend to keep more mental notes. They're pretty vague and abstract, you know, for Milon, I'm thinking, OK, so Janine and I are both poets were both writers. We both like to travel, so maybe incorporating text or maps or something like that would be kind of fun. I definitely know that I want the portrait's to be colorful. In the end, I want them to have some bright, colorful element. That's just, you know, because of what I like to see. I like rain bows and things like that, and I think that what I want to do is find a way to incorporate both digital coloring and photographs in some way, like using photographs as texture, tried things like that in the past and have liked how they turned out. So in preparation for my portrait. I'm going to start gathering some of the photographs I've taken in the past that have nice textural feels tooth. Um um and in colors that I'm thinking I might want to use for Milosz. So, you know, tan stuns, maybe even purples, things like that. Inspiration can also be related to your pet or, um use. So if your dog just loves the beach, then you know, you might think about incorporating, like beachy kinds of colors and textures. In the next video, I will actually be demonstrating how I create my first portrait with Milo using digital collage. So if you're using other materials or using a different medium, then this is where our paths temporarily diverge. In the next video, I'll still be talking about some of the things that I think about when I'm creating Portrait's in general. So it may still be helpful for you to watch, but otherwise I wish you the best of luck for creating your first portrait, and I'll see you on the other side 6. Digital collage: in this video, I'll take you through the process of creating a digital collage step by step. Step one is to do a pencil drawing, just like the one that you did for your values study. But you'll want to take your time with this one, because it will be the foundation for your final portrait. I used a slightly nights or pencil because the other one was getting kind of annoying on nicer paper as well. Step two is to outline your portrait in ink. I like a ballpoint pen. Black ink, although it doesn't really matter that much on you're just going to get this sort of basic outer shapes in there. Step three is to outline the values. You'll want to decide how Maney values you want for our values. Study. We just used three values, the lightest, the middle in the darkest shades. I because I want something a little bit more subtle for my final portrait. I'm going to go with five values, but for this point, I'm just trying to get a range of different shapes in there. So looking at basically where the darkest the middle darks and the middle places are and enclosing those in ink boxes or kind of like puzzle pieces. If you ever did like paint by numbers as a kid, it's kind of the same thing. You can even write in numbers in there. If you want to label your values one through five and keep track of which splotches really to which of values, you can definitely do that and then erase it later. Once it's inside Photoshopped, it's okay to be a little bit rough around the edges or a little bit abstract. Next, you're going to scan your file and then import it into Photoshopped. You're gonna file place embedded. This is on a new document, just a blank document 8.5 by 11. So I go ahead and place my scanned J peg there and then I'm gonna make it a little bit bigger just cause I kind of want her face to be bigger, Um, and then move it around until it's in the position I like. I don't like it totally centered, but that looks pretty good. Um, and then I'm going to rast. Arise the layer so that I can edit it. Step five. You'll remove the highlights and dark in the lines. Removing the highlights isn't really necessary. But I like to do it just because it produces kind of a cleaner file in the end. So you're going to go to, um, select color range and then, uh, the highlights hit, okay, And then you can see it's all selected and you just hit delete, and that will remove the highlights. So, you know, you just you don't have any, like little gray shadows or anything like that. Then you go to filter filter gallery, and then you have to make sure that you have your colors set on black. Um, I like the photo copy affect just because it really darkens those lines. And Step six is something that you shouldn't necessarily have to do if you've been really diligent about connecting all of your lines. Um, while you're doing your your pen and ink outline and filling in those values areas, but I get kind of lazy sometimes, and so I have to go and manually use the pen tool and kind of look for any little spots where the lines don't connect. So because if they don't connect, then and you try to fill in one of those areas. Then it's gonna fill in all of the surrounding areas as well, Like anywhere that's that's linked with an open space. First step seven, you're just gonna hit command option shift N e. And that creates a new layer that has everything that you've just done all in one layer. So that makes it a lot easier to edit stuff. Eight. We're actually going to start importing the images that will make up our collage, someone who didn't select the layer below, the one I'm working on. And then I'm gonna find the texture that I want to import the 1st 1 I've already picked out . You know, my five different values that I'm gonna use and they're kind of ranging from light to dark , but we'll still be able to edit them. So I'll start with my darkest go ahead and just import it there and then and then what am I doing here? So just to see, um, you can make the top layer invisible and look, make sure it's there. I kind of wanted a little bit darker than this already. So I'm gonna play with that a little bit because I want that darkest value to really feel dark. I don't want it to be pure black, but I wanted to be dark enough comes that the other ones really stand out. Then I'm gonna go to my wand tool, and I'm going to start selecting and removing the pieces that will then reveal the layer that the image that I just imported below them. So we're using the one tool I will select that little whatever little piece it is gonna right click on it. And then I'm gonna go down to layer via cut and then delete that new layer that it creates , and you see how it literally just shows It starts to reveal, um, the image that's below, which is my my darkest value image that I've imported go through. And I think this under the ear one is the last one. Oh, wait, no, I still have some around the mouth. So, you know, in deciding which ones which values of and then I yeah, end up like selecting the lines of the outlines instead of the thing. So I got him to zoom in and and find that little box. Um, and in remembering like Sometimes it's hard to remember which pieces were the darkest values in which were the light. And this, you know, this is where you want toe sort of use your reference for the graphs in your values study, and then we're just gonna go through the same process, command, option, shift, and e to create a new layer with everything on it and then repeat for all of the other values. So I'm gonna repeat it four more times because I had five values total. So I'll just show you the process for the lightest layer. Um, and I think it's nice to work, you know, sort of starting with the latest in the darkest layers and then moving inward, I guess, because it helps me. You know, sometimes I can't decide at the beginning of a certain area is gonna be the, um, you know, middle light value or middle value. And so starting from the most extreme and then working my way inwards helps me kind of decide. It's, you know, it's it's more art than science that takes him playing around with. So if you want, you can use just your regular values. The images you've been using all along for the eyes. I think for this one, I'm going to try my paint bucket tool just to see what it's like. So I'm gonna go over to my paint bucket. Um, and I'm on a course, a new layer with everything, and then I'm gonna select the colors that I want to do and just and just fill those lines. Oregon. So I've got my pupils. Andi. Yeah, I think I'm gonna I think those great because it feels otherwise, they feel kind of harsh and maybe that little area underneath. Yeah, so I kind of like the, um, you know, look there. So if you want, you can start thinking about your background. Um, I am going to go ahead and play around with it a little bit just to show you the different kinds of things you can dio. So the first thing you'll do is take that very, very top layer with everything on it, right click on a duplicate layer into a new file, and then that creates a whole new file with just that layer. So you don't have all of those other layers that you've been using. Then I create a new layer that's just command shift, and I drag it underneath That top layer used the magic wand tool, right click layer the a cut. Like what we've been doing with, um, you know, to create the closure all along, and then I just select that bottom layer, used the paint bucket and fill it in with whatever color I want on. That's just to, you know, create kind of, ah, solid background. Um, if I want to do something else like, if I want to have an image behind there, I can also, you know, find like I don't know, What do we want to happen here? We'll go find. Yeah, just we could look at one of those textures that I'd used just to show you how toe import so, you know, just imported in and, you know, make it as big as the image. Um, it's kind of not enough contrast. So let's make a little bit brighter. I mean, I'm not really crazy about about that texture. Yeah, that's weird. The contrast is still a little bit weird, but, you know, that just kind of gives you an idea. Like if I wanted to use something a little bit different. A little more fun, maybe gonna Yeah, I used this big, lovely piece of hand written text, so So that's kind of more interesting. I think in the photograph, it just changes the style. It changes the texture a little bit. And it's neat cause that little soupy thing there behind her ear almost looks like it was done on purpose. Then I'm gonna save and let's just call it my le Backgrounds. And there we go. Um, I think in the end, I kind of like that plain green background the best, so I'll just leave that, as is for now. 7. Cultivating themes: Congratulations on finishing your first portrait. I have you guys have fun on that. You're happy with the result? Um, now it's time to start thinking about characteristics of your portrait that might be reproducible across multiple portrait's, so in a way that would make your work recognizable as yours. So this could be anything from colors to backgrounds, Teoh materials that you want to use or materials that you want to put your final portrait on. I've seen dog Portrait's done on wine glasses, pillowcases, T shirts. You know, kind of anything you can imagine necklaces or jewelry. Think about if you want to incorporate text or word art of some kind, the size and the shape of your portrait. Are you thinking about miniature portrait? It's or oversized portrait's square oval, you know, landscape versus portrait layout with my Love. I ended off with a green background, but then I thought for my other portrait's maybe I'd want you no more textured backgrounds or more interesting background. So I played around with some other things, her just to see what that would feel like. I used a nim itch of Greece that I found a map because Janine loves Greece. And then I thought, Well, wouldn't it be interesting to use maps as the textures instead of using photographs? So I started playing around with that a little bit. And then again, playing around with different backgrounds when I put the text in is the background. Of course, that triggered the idea that maybe text would be more interesting to use as a texture. So then I went through different colors for that, and I feel like a the end of the day. Um, I have a lot of different ideas to work with here, and it's really gonna take starting the second portrait in the third portrait to get a sense of what I can carry across different portrait. So I'm just gonna go ahead and get started. 8. Expanding your line: in this video, I'm going to show you what I did for my second and third portrait's and explains some of my decisions along the way. Portrait number two was Boy, he's a super sweet pit bull. This is the reference photograph that I chose, and the first thing you'll probably notice is that there aren't really a lot of values in this photograph. Aside from that nice white patch on his chest, black dogs are often like this. It just feels at first glance like there's only one shade of black. It just takes a little bit of practice to see the lighter shades of black as the lightest values period. So you can see for my values sketch that I have found those lighter shades kind of on the top of his nose and on his forehead, also a little bit on his jaw and here and finding the muscles on his body. The other thing, you'll notice about the value sketches that I have added an ear in the original photograph . His head is bare from that side. The air just isn't visible, and the reason I did this is partially because I like balance, but also because ears say a lot about a dog's personality and when the ears or back dogs tend to be more frightened, a little bit more nervous or uncertain. And I wanted boy to seem a little more confident or inquisitive or curious. So I went ahead and adjusted that year. And that just sort of goes to show that it's fine to improvise and adjust things as you need in order to create a portrait in the end that, you know, gives off the kind of vibe or mood that you really want to give off. Here's my ink sketch for Boy. This is, of course, going to be the foundation for the digital portrait. Um, and looking at it now, I think my value sketch was actually more accurate and finding all of those different shades, the lights and the darks. But thank goodness, it's a flexible process. Eso this one still worked out fine. I decided to use a combination of words so text art and maps and photographs as my textures just to see what that would be like. And I ended up with this. I really like how it turned out. I like that the blue the background plays a little bit with the blue and his bandanna, but it's not exactly the same color. I like those those lighter highlights on and you know he's not, um, a black dog in this portrait, but I still feel like that's OK, and I would hope that boys people would still recognize him here in the portrait. I also changed the direction of his eyes in the original photograph. You can see that he's looking up and away and for the portrait. I wanted to see what it would be like for him to look straight into the camera, so to speak. So I gave him those nice white eyes. That's one thing that you can do with eyes. A lot of times, dogs don't show the whites of their eyes and pictures. There's just, you know, sort of all a dark spot. But I like giving them those whites because it helps make them feel a little bit more human , which is what we often feel when we look into dog's eyes. Uh, reporter number three. I decided to go with my own dog. This is Cortez, and mostly I wanted Teoh do his portrait in this new style because he's really furry. He's got a lot of hair and we haven't really covered that yet. So this is the values sketch that I did, and you can see that it doesn't necessarily look all that different from the value sketches for boy or from Isla. In terms of the furry nous you can see in his ears that there's a little bit. The outline is a little bit looser. It's a little bit more playful. You can, you know, sort of curly and stuff, and you can also see that around his chest. I haven't actually filled in the hole outline. It's just kind of a few lines to give the idea of a body rather than outlining every little bit for the ink sketch. Obviously, I needed to make sure that everything was fully enclosed so that when I go back in with my magic wand tool in photo shop, but I can actually just select those pieces that I want to remove to create the layers. So in this step, I really had Teoh connect all the lines and make make sure those interior pieces, like on his chest, that those thinner, smaller pieces. Those help give some shading, so it's not just one big blank area that'll that'll help create some shadows and stuff. And then because Cortez also has a little bit of color, you know, he has some kind of golden hiss for and Cem gray and almost a bluish tint. I thought it might be fun to actually make his portrait more colorful and bring in a bunch of different maps and things with that had multiple colors within them. So this is how how it ended up definitely, very colorful. Um, but I like it because it's still retains. Some of the original colors of his tongue is still that kind of a nice pinkish purple. And he does have one brown eye and 1/2 brown, half blue eyes so those colors still come out. And I made sure that that kind of brown or gold flicking on his face and around his chin on that side also came through in the final portrait. And that brings me to all three of my portrait. It's I feel pretty happy with how they turned out. I definitely I'm still learning things with each new portrait about what works and what doesn't work. And I'm excited to take thes forward and apply these ideas to some new dogs. So I hope that this has been fun for you guys. And I cannot wait to see what kinds of images you all come up with, so please, please do share. 9. Wrapping up: well, this concludes our class. I hope it's been fun for you guys. If you're thinking about starting a custom pet portrait business, the best marketing I found is really word of mouth and just getting your work in front of people's eyes. Most of my clients have found me through the 66 Dogs Project or because they saw one of my portrait's in a friend's house. So you might want to start by giving portrait's gifts to friends and family on gift giving occasions of and asking them to share the portrait's in their social media networks. Online shops like etc. For example, offer a nice professional platform for selling your work, and they make it easy to collect payments. Um, I've only just started to explore etc. Myself, so whether it's really effective marketing tool remains to be seen. So thanks again for watching, and I wish you guys all the best