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Captain Pip and Little Lil

I have a motley crew of 5 rescue dogs (also 3 goats and 2 cockatiels) so I thought it would be fun to use two of them in a pirate scene.  Here are photos of Pippin and Lily:

Pip is a sweet, earnest little dog but often his face has a gruff expression, and when his upper lip gets caught on a lower tooth, he definitely looks like a tough guy.  He is also a little stout.  Lily is a dainty, sleek little thing, very light on her feet, with a silly little smile, and she loves to dance around on her hind legs.  I tried to capture their personalities in this project.

First I did a very rough sketch with a ballpoint pent:

Then traced the shapes in Illustrator, improving them a lot.

Then I added shading and lighting in Photoshop.  I love shading with the natural brushes Matt suggested because it adds so much texture and interest.  I also used a faux finish brush with the smudge tool to drag finer hairs out around Pip's face.  I might add lighting effects and other things, but this is what I have done so far:

I don't know when I have had so much fun as I did rendering this in Photoshop, even though my wacom tablet stopped working (grrr) so I had to do everything with the little touchpad on my laptop. Matt's method makes illustration seem possible for me.  For so many years I have carried ideas for picture books around in my head, but now I might find the courage to actually create them!  Please send any suggestions for improving this.  Thanks, Marien

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