How To Paint A Watercolour Portrait Of Your Dog - Step By Step


I haven’t written a blog in a wee while, but as it’s National Dog Day, I thought I’d share this ‘How to paint a watercolour portrait of your dog’.

I actually did this a few months a go, when I was first asked to go into a school to do a talk and show children how to paint, but I soon realised my ‘how to’ was going to be a little too advance for them. Since then I’ve started doing children’s watercolour workshops (which have gone down a treat) and I’ve been getting a lot of requests for adult workshops too. I think it’s going to be a while until I do any adult workshops, so thought I’d share this for the time being.

Step 1 

Find a nice and CLEAR photo that you’d like to paint and then start to look at the different colours it’s made up of and different shapes.

Pet portrait reference photo

Step 2

 Draw your chosen subject very lightly in pencil (so it’s easy to rub out if needs be) it doesn’t have to be 100% realistic, you could do a cartoon version or even abstract, it’s completely up to you!

Step by step watercolour dog portrait

Step 3

 Think about what the lightest colour is in your chosen photo (not including white). Then once you’ve decided on the colour, really wet your brush and dab it gently in the paint.

 Use another small piece of paper to test the colour before painting straight on to your drawing, I personally like to use a lot of water and very little paint. That way I can build the painting up in layers.

 Once you are happy with the colour, lightly sweep your brush over your drawing, (avoiding the white areas) and don’t worry if you go out of the lines, it all adds to the character!

Then wait for it to dry, this is an important part to watercolours, otherwise you end up with a muddy brown mess!

step by step watercolour dog portrait

Step 4

Repeat step 3, but this time use a slightly darker shade or a different colour that is in your photo.

 Depending on how detailed/how many different colours are involved in your photo, you may need to repeat this stage a number of times.

Remember to wait for each layer to dry before adding the next layer of paint!


Step 5

 Once you have finished painting all the layers, double check it’s dry and then add in the finer details.

 You might want to use a smaller brush or even a pencil for really small details, like the eyes.

step by step watercolour dog portrait

Step 6

 Then use a pencil to re-define some of the edges and the fine details of your painting, so they really stand out.

step by step watercolour dog painting

Step 7

 Then when you are 100% happy with your finished painting, sign and date it and then you can see your progress over time.

 I really hope this has been helpful and I’d love to see how your dog paintings turn out!

Have fun painting,