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Snapshot Inspiration

Glamour Shots: Pet Portraits

It always baffles me when artists can make drawings and paintings look like photographs. Some of the most realistic renderings of people, places and animals can be almost indistinguishable from their photographic counterparts. I can't fathom how their hands can take shadows, textures and color variations and translate them to canvas almost exactly the way the eye takes them in.

Beagle nose

Photo by Tyler Stabile

This is a photo of my beagle Lance that a photographer friend snapped one afternoon, probably while Lance was staring out the window in search of pigeons. I love the way the shadows fall across his face and how up close and personal the shot gets with the texture of his facial features. I don't think I ever truly noticed what the surface of his nose looked like before seeing this shot.

The details of this photo would make great inspiration for a drawing, especially with graphite pencil or charcoal. It would be an artistic challenge to try to recreate all of the lines and curves of my pet's face to create a realistic portrait. There's also a kindness in his eyes that the camera captures. I wonder about the best techniques to use to bring that out with lines and shading.

Artist's tip for Painting Dog Eyes

Dog eyes are usually very dark and reflect the colors from their surroundings.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of drawing pets?

Heather Linder

Heather is a journalist and writer living in Chicago with her composer husband and art-loving puppy, Lancelot. She's on an endless quest for the city's best coffee and is endlessly inspired by Chicago's magnificent skyline. Heather is a bookworm, aspiring chef, and NPR fanatic. She's in the process of teaching her beagle to use a French press and overcoming her fear of DIY.

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Igor Babailov

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