Monday, February 5, 2024

Another Pack of Pups and a Kitty

1/29/24 Juliett (reference photo by Matt Francev)
The owner and I both loved this image of
Juliett "smoking" a PVC pipe!
1/29/24 Echo (reference photo by Matt Francev)

The dog and cat portraits are still keeping me busy and happy. The latest pack of pups gave me a good challenge with a variety of head forms, ear shapes, unusual markings and, uh, unique features like the (bull?) dog with pinkish, loose lips.

1/31/24 Ruby (reference photo by Matt Francev)

1/31/24 Bug (reference photo by Chris Green)
Bug has the best canine grin in town!

Without intention, I am learning a lot about animal anatomy that I had never noticed before this series. For example, dogs have nostrils shaped like inverted commas. Cats (and other animals) have similar nostrils, but much smaller. Both dogs and cats have a tiny protrusion near the base of the ear. Many are subtle or hidden by fur, but once I observed it, I started looking for it whenever I drew ears, and they can usually be found. And dogs have black lips – another detail that I probably wouldn’t have discovered if not for this series.

2/2/24 Ada (reference photo by Robbin Love)

Ada, one of the most glamorous cats I’ve seen (certainly ever drawn), was the first long-haired cat in my series. I thought that might make her more challenging, but the good lighting in the reference photo and her shiny, dark fur made it easier to see the form of her face. (Her expression is a bit more smug than she actually looks in the photo, but as I quipped to her owner, who agreed, a cat as gorgeous as Ada probably has her share of smugness.)

By the way, Echo, Juliett and Ruby all belong to the same dog lover, and I’m still working on drawings of four more of his pups (some living, some who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge). All were rescues. A generous supporter of Dog Gone Seattle, he has shared heart-warming and heartbreaking stories.

Technical notes: I like using Viarco ArtGraf water-soluble graphite as an easy, subtle background behind white animals to make them stand out better. I’ve lately also been using it to subtly tone the shaded side of white animals. Applied wet-in-wet, the graphite creates a cloudy, mottled look.

While most dogs have brown irises, most cats seem to have yellowish, slightly greenish irises. It’s a tricky hue to mix, but I finally found the right pencil: Faber-Castell Polychromos Green Gold. So if you’ve been looking for the right color to sketch your cat’s eyes, you’re welcome!


  1. I've cleaned the inside of many a Lab/mix ear and yes, there's a protrusion! And I'm not so sure about all dogs having black lips. One of our Lab mixes was this gorgeous brownish blonde and her lips and nose were more "flesh" toned. More brown to match her hair. But dark haired dogs, more likely to be black.

    1. Hmm, interesting! I'm sure colors do vary... Ruby, above, definitely has pink lips!

  2. These are great!!! You learned a lot about the anatomy of the dogs. I love how you made Ada's fur look so soft! Purrfect!

    1. The whole time I was sketching, I wanted to plunge my hands through Ada's fur!


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