February 22, 2021

Pet Painting Tips for Beginners

Here are some of the best tips, tricks, and strategies you can use to paint your pet.

If you’re a pet owner, then you’ve probably tried to paint your pet at some point. It’s just something pet owners do.

Want to learn how to paint your pet? Want to make your painting look as good as possible? We’re here to help.

Here are some of the best tips, tricks, and strategies you can use to paint your pet.

Preparing Before You Paint

A little preparation goes a long way when painting your pet. Here are some tips to get started:

Start by getting an image of your pet that you like. Maybe it’s a photo of your dog on the beach. Maybe it’s a picture of your pet stretched out on the couch. It’s easier to paint your pet from a photo – instead of just looking at your pet and reproducing what you see.

Book a Paint and Sip LIVE class. Haven’t painted in years? That’s okay! Our virtual painting classes teach you basic and advanced painting skills. We’ll even ship a beginner painting kit to your house. If you don’t have painting supplies at home, and if you want a basic refresher on how to paint, then consider booking a Paint and Sip LIVE virtual painting class.

Look up other pet paintings online. Painting your pet may seem straightforward. You just paint what you see. However, there are many different ways to paint your pet. Some people paint an action photo. Others paint a close-up face portrait. Some paint against a bare backdrop, while others paint a full-on scene with multiple characters and complex focal points. Look up other pet paintings online, then decide what you like.

Get the Right Painting Supplies

Most beginner painters use acrylics. They’re easy to use, quick to dry, and hassle-free. Make sure you have multiple colors and the right palette.

Next, get your surface. Buy an art canvas or any other type of material.

As you get more advanced, you may want to add black marker, soft art pencils, and other tools to your painting kit. If you’re new to painting and don’t have the supplies, our Paint and Sip LIVE beginner painting kit should do the trick for basic pet portrait paintings.

Decide on the Background

Background is important. Do you want to paint your pet running across a field chasing a ball? Or do you want a close-up facial portrait of your pet to remember how your pet looks forever?

Consider painting multiple types of designs to decide which one you like. You may like one design more than another. Maybe you re-create a photo of your dog on the beach one day, then paint a close-up portrait the next.

Painting the background is easy if you’re using acrylic paints. They dry quickly, and you can immediately start painting over top.

If painting with watercolors, it could take weeks to dry.

It’s also important to consider the color of the background. If you’re painting a black lab, then you probably don’t want a black-colored background. Your background should contrast or complement the subject – not blend into it.

Outline Using Carbon Copy Paper

Painting pets can be challenging. As a new painter, don’t be surprised if your painting looks like something a first grader might draw. It’s okay, and you’ll get better.

One of the best ways to improve your pet paintings is to trace an image of your pet using carbon paper. Trace the outline, lines, and shadows of your pet – or anything else you want to re-create in your painting. Then, transfer it to your canvas by placing the carbon paper face down and rubbing over top.

If you don’t have carbon paper, make plenty of sketches. Sketch the broader outlines of your pet on paper until you’re satisfied with the results, then make the same sketch on your canvas.

Start Simple, then Add More Detail

Shadows and detailing can be challenging. If you’re new to painting, then you may want to skip these details until you’re more advanced.

Start simple. Focus on broader shapes and proportions. Make sure your painting looks at least somewhat like your pet.

Once you’ve nailed the broad aspects of painting your pet, you can start working on the finer details.

Remember the Skeletal Structure of your Pet

If your pet is furry, it’s easy to paint the fur while ignoring the skeleton beneath. That’s a problem, as it can make your painting look funny. Something will just look off.

Just like with humans, the skeleton provides a roadmap for the rest of your painting. The jaw and cheekbones make it easier to fill in a human portrait, and your dog’s skeleton makes it easy to outline the rest of your pet.

Consider the skeletal shape of your pet underneath the fur. This is particularly useful for shaggier pets. You can always add fur over top.

Have Fun and Relax: You Can Paint As Many Portraits As You Want

Pets are great for practicing how you paint.

It’s okay if you’ve never painted before – or if you’re an intermediate painter looking for the next level.

The more you paint your pet, the better you’ll get at it. There’s no pressure:

I promise, your pet isn’t judging you whether it’s a good or bad painting.

Final Word: Pet Portraits Are Special Memories

Your first few pet portraits may not look great. Just like portraits, it takes work to master pet paintings.

As you get better, however, you can create something special. Pet portraits are a special way to honor your favorite family member – and you can hang the best ones on the wall to remember your pet forever.