Pastels are a dry art medium that produces intense colours by blending and layering different colour values. Blending shades of blue, violet, dark green and deep red make intense black hues, giving the drawing depth and form. Your black dog drawing will be dull and lifeless if you only use a black pastel stick. Studying the cool shadows and warm highlights in the reference photo you have chosen and applying layers of pastel colours to your drawing will give you a black dog with vibrant fur.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Pastel paper
- Foam panel
- Paper clips
- Black dog reference photo
- Charcoal drawing pencil
- Soft pastel sticks
- Pastel pencils
- Kneaded eraser
- Archival spray varnish
Align the pastel paper onto the foam board. The foam board has a cushioned surface, aiding with blending the pastel colours into the tooth of the paper, leaving no white areas showing through.
Secure the paper with paper clips fastened to each corner of the paper. Place the clips on the edges of the paper reserved for matting or framing, preventing indents on the finished artwork.
Place the mounted foam board on a drawing table or easel to begin working on the drawing.
Prepare the Paper
Draw a light sketch of the black dog, referring to the reference photo often. Use the charcoal pencil for your sketch, applying light pressure. The charcoal will blend with the pastels as you add colour layers.
Study the reference photo and outline shadow areas, establishing the dark areas of the dog. The contrast of warm lights and cool darks give the black dog a rich colour.
Outline highlighted areas on your paper where light reflects off the dog's coat. The outline helps you avoid applying too much colour to lighter areas. The contrast of lights and shadows adds drama and vibrancy to the black dog.
Outline the contour of the dog's eyes using a deep purple pastel pencil with a sharp tip. Pastel pencils allow you to add more detail than the pastel sticks. Darken the outline with dark blue and dark green pastel pencils.
Fill in the pupil using a burnt sienna pastel stick. Leave the highlighted area on the pupil white. Continue adding light layers of pastel to the pupil, alternating burnt sienna, deep red and dark green, forming lifelike brown eyes.
Add the brightest highlights to the dog's eyes with a white pastel pencil. Highlights on the eyes give a soft, watery look.
Apply purple, dark green and deep blue layers to get the intense, dark colour of the dog's nose. Avoid the light areas of the nose. Remove extra pastel colours with the kneaded eraser if you accidentally cover over the highlights.
Outline the dog's mouth with a pastel pencil matching the colour of the dog's lips. Some dogs have black lips and others have pink.
Add layers of colour to deepen the colour value of the lips. If the dog's tongue is showing, follow the same technique as the lips.
Nose and Mouth
Apply dark blue to the darkest areas of the dog's body, legs and tail. Leave the highlighted areas white.
Work section-to-section, adding layers of dark green, dark blue and dark purple to until the dog's body is complete.
Add highlights with white, light blue or light grey pastel sticks to the edges of the dog's ears, hips, shoulders and leg muscles where light is reflected.
Use a white pastel stick to make the brightest highlights whiter. The white highlights add shine to the dog's coat. Add whiskers using a fine-tipped pastel pencil.
Tips and warnings
- Apply the pastels in the direction of the dog's fur, giving a realistic look to the dog.
- You can blend the pastels for a smoother looking dog coat using your baby finger or a pastel blender.
- Spray the completed pastel drawing with archival varnish to protect the pastels, keeping the colours vibrant for years to come. The spray also prevents the pastels from smudging.
- Apply light layers when drawing with pastels. If you add the coloured layers too thickly, the pastels become muddied and dull.
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