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Pet Portraits

What are pet portraits?

There’s WAY more to pet portraits than just being a drawing of your faithful companion. They’re portraits specifically designed to capture your pet’s personality and act as a constant reminder of the major role they play in your life. I suppose you could call it their initiation into the family, which conveniently also doubles as a way to capture their quirks. Be that their remarkable ability pose candid or simply their unbelievably cheeky grin.

Okay Karen, but what’s the difference with pet and owner portraits?

Much like they sound, a pet and owner portrait is a drawing that stars you as well as your pet. And by ‘you’, I mean it could be a portrait of a pet and one other person, or feature your pet as part of a larger group. It all depends on what you’re after.

What’s more, you could argue that pet and owner portraits are the ultimate memoir. Reason being that portraits themselves are all about capturing emotion and feeling – that’s what makes them so tricky to get right. In which case, starring in hand drawn portrait with your pet, may be the way to go. Not only will it capture their personality, but it’ll also capture the bond you both share. Pretty invaluable if you ask me.

Why are pet portraits a good idea?

Contrary to what you might think, there’s more than one reason why hand drawn portraits make so much sense. In fact, the it comes to pets there’s that many I can’t count. So many that I’ve listed just a handful for you below…

Benefits of pet portraits

  • Family inclusion – You have pictures of your friends and family around the house, so surely it’s only right to dedicate at least some of that wall space to your pet? Besides, they’re like the backbone of your household. While you go to work, your pet stays home and guards the fort. And it’s not like they don’t sacrifice a lot either. Go on a holiday to Marbella and the closest they get is the kennel. Not exactly what you’d call a good trade off. So I suppose you could say that pet portraits could be a way of showing respect.

  • Bragging rights – Despite all their perks, fact remains that pet portraits are rather rare. You can probably count on one hand how many people you know who’ve had one done. And while that’s not great news for portrait artists like me, it does give you some significant bragging rights! Just a thought.

  • Documenting progression – Our pets change fast – there’s no getting around that. Hence why if you opt for a hand drawn portrait in their early years, it’ll not only going to be great value in the moment. You see, even a small pet portrait can act as a great memento to your companion and their younger self. So it’s no wonder that most owners tend to get one done in their first couple of years of ownership. Because aside from being an investment in now, it’s also an investment in the future.

  • IDEA: Have pictures of pet from young right the way up to being old, why not include a few of them at different ages? If so, we could fuse the images together to create a timeline of your pet’s life. Talk about outside the box!

  • Adaptability – Unlike with a photograph where photoshop is your only hope, with pet portraits you can completely rewrite the picture. By that I mean that drawing portraits from photos allows you to not only make slight tweaks and add in certain elements, but also turn the entire image from a photograph into a work of art. A vast improvement on a doctored photograph if you ask me.

  • Your pet’s reaction – You’ve seen animals react to mirrors, but have you seen them to a portrait of themselves? I’m not going to lie, the outcome can be pretty hilarious. I’ve found that dog portraits conjure up some of the most comical reactions. A sure sign if you ask me, that your pets appreciate a hand drawn portrait just as much as you do.

  • Paying homage – Pets play such a large part in our lives that without them I’m pretty sure we’d all feel – dare I say it – almost empty. Having a whole host of pets as a child, I know that feeling all too well. And looking back, I do sometimes wish I’d cracked out the crayons and done a portrait of them myself, as sort of a token to remember them by. But you know what they say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

  • IDEA: Thanks to the magic of cameras though, you don’t have to suffer the same fate! Dig out some old pictures and you could turn your pet portrait into a heartwarming memorial drawing.

    So, how do pet portraits work?

    Even though you’d assume that drawing a pet would differ from drawing a solo portrait or family portrait quite substantially, the truth of the matter is that it actually doesn’t. The process from your end is virtually the same, as it is on mine, albeit with a slight visual twist. Choose me and you’d start off by filling me in on your ideas and sending me across a photograph (or a collection of images) to do with your pet. But before I crack out the crayons, there’d be a just a couple of things to note…

    Quality of your photographs – I cannot stress how important hight quality photographs are, as in the end, the definition of the photograph determines the quality of the portrait, so please bear this in mind. Files should be at least over 1MB.

    • Number of subjects – How many pets do you want in your picture? Have you got multiple? Reason being that portrait drawing artists (like me) will usually charge per portrait, not per picture.

    • Positioning – If you’re after pet portrait that comprises of more than one photograph, then having the order in which you’d like them to be drawn would be useful too.
    It’s only after I have answers to all these that my Derwents come out of hiding and get down to the actual portrait drawing, using your chosen colour.

    Now, of course there’s quite a lot that goes into the actual drawing, so for the full lowdown on how I work, be sure to check out my drawing process.

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