View Full Version : dog in pastel advice please

11-13-2015, 03:40 PM

Title: dog in pastel advice please
Year Created:
Medium: Pastel
Surface: Paper
Dimension: 12 inches x 16 inches
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

This is one of the first attempts of pastel portraits. Not happy with the fur :crying: (the photo has brought out the highlights which are not so strong as shown).

I want to start pastel portraits of cats/dogs to hopefully sell. This is one of the first attempts and I am so, so, stuck on fur - help! Any advice would be so much appreciated - thanks.

11-14-2015, 03:30 PM
looks a decent likeness, but if you're going to promote your work online you really need a better picture.
assuming it's oil pastels consider getting a brush involved (with a little thinners and/or medium) to get a more wispy look with the fur.
posting your reference is also helpful


Dana Design
11-14-2015, 04:24 PM
Are you using pure white for the highlights? If so, you might want to mix in a bit of Naples Yellow Light to tone down the white. On this photo, the whites are just too bright and unnatural looking. The rest is quite nice!

Nice doggie!

11-14-2015, 10:38 PM
Thanks for your kind comments. The pastel is a soft pastel and not oil based. Unfortunately the white is not so bright but the suggestion of using a bit of naples yellow (light) - I will try out. Thank you.

11-16-2015, 01:44 PM
lindap2, just to be able to judge how much the photograph lightened things as you mentioned, can you say what the lightness/darkness value is of the gray paper? And by chance if there's a reference photo, if you like, it might be helpful if you could post that as well. Thanks...

11-17-2015, 07:07 AM

sorry for the delay, I have now managed to upload the photo. Having an artists block today, feel I'm going backwards with trying to create fur with pastel.:crying: still, wont give up :smug:

11-17-2015, 07:35 AM
Fix the hairs in the nose, makes it look a bit displaced :)
I modify it a bit digitally... here:
Dont darken so much the red, let a bit whiter the left part of the nose and make the hair direction a bit more towards the center of the eyes ;)

11-17-2015, 09:06 AM
I am no expert on pastels, but that white does not go well. The rest may be ok, but all I can look at are the white streaks and it really disturbs me as a viewer.

11-17-2015, 07:44 PM
Hi Lindap2,

Four pics below left to right: 1. your ref photo, adjusted, 2. My suggested adjustments, 3. Ref photo with original rich lighting, and 4. original pastel drawing as first posted. Big question, how to render that lovely light.

I like the technique, the artistic embellishments make it very interesting. But the contrast between the white squiggles and the rest of the dog's face is perhaps too great? I've made an attempt to bring the non-white colours up in brightness to be closer to the white-ish pastel. (The white being about a value 8). You could try to tone down the whites, but I think the portrait needs these light values.

Perhaps enlarge the ears to more resemble the pup in the photo, and as just noted previously in post 7, enlarge the nose, too. I brought the rich colours of the ear edges to be more bright/light, as such colours would probably be to suggest the strong evening lighting. Also, I lightened the lit side of the muzzle with one of your creamy yellows.

Overall I gave thought to how the dog is illuminated in the photo (after reducing the camera's very warm light, and pulling the grass out of the darks - thus, being able to see the dog better, or just differently for exploration of hue, value and chroma). I think we ask ourselves: Do all the artistic colours interact to tell the story of the lighting? I like the hue choices, and the squiggles - gives it a wonderful artistic flare. So, it's down to value contrasts and chroma contrasts (note, IMO it's the contrasts that do the work). Are the contrasts throughout coherent in a way that captures your lighting story? I think with a few adjustments, the answer is yes.

The second dog pic on the right is pre-adjustment to see the rich lighting, along side the far right, unaltered pastel drawing. I can totally see what you're going after, it's a great, artistic rendering. I think overall, just a few wee edits regarding feature shapes (ears, nose) and adjustment of colour contrasts to close the gap between the white highlights and the other colours.

Just some possibilities, and I hope this helps in some small way, Cheers!

11-23-2015, 04:38 PM
Gosh, thank you for your reply, it is so appreciated. I had another go at the dog today, after reading your comments and adjusted my photo before I begun. This time I have taken more time on the fur and I think I'm getting there now :clap: Thank you 831226