Making a Pet Portrait: Thor the Mastiff

Making a Pet Portrait: Thor the Mastiff


I’m Ian Stone. I’m an illustrator and graphic designer and Moulin Diesel is my studio One my side projects is I also do pet
portraits and I get asked a lot how exactly I do those. What goes into them
what’s the end product look like? So I wanted to take a little bit of time
today and show you what goes into this portrait right here. Now to start off I work completely
digitalyl, doing all my work on the computer. I work on Mac, and I use
a combination of mainly Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator along with DAZ, Studio 3D
Blender, Sculptris, an assortment of other apps my most important tool is
this: a Wacom tablet I use a pressure-sensitive pen with it to mimic
the act of drawing and painting. So for example, in Photoshop the harder I
push the darker a brushstroke gets or the bigger it gets depending on the tool
settings. This allows me to work just like I would if I was sitting at a table
drawing or painting in a studio. Now before I get into the process behind
making the portrait, I wanna give you a little background. The client, Sabrina
previously hired me to do the logo and business training for her grooming salon,
RockBug grooming. Then she hiredd me to do a tattoo design for her, and then a
portrait of her pitbull Penelope, and then one of her guinea pig Declan, and
then a science-fiction version of Declan. Along the way she me do all
sorts of new things for her business when she needs them like typesetting
this window decal to advertise with. Consequently not only is Sabrina a great
regular client but she’s become a close personal friend. Some time ago she hired
me to do a portrait of her Neapolitan Mastiff, Thor. First things first: a good freelance
artists always discusses the client’s wants and needs with them. In this case
we decided on a graphic style more like a comic book than the painterly style I
did for her other pieces. She also mentioned wanting props in the
portrait and we kicked around some ideas until we decided on a “dapper gentleman”
look. It just so happens that while we were hanging out at the salon my wife snapped a pretty great picture of Thor sitting with me. We all decided that it would make a
great picture to base the portrait on. Back in my studio I set up a 16 by 20 inch
canvas in Photoshop. It’s a good idea to work big because you can do a lot with it
when it’s done and I try not to ever work too small. I open Google and do a
little research. I need a top hat, a bow tie, and a monocle. I just need references
to give me a starting place when I draw. I assemble all the pieces on a canvas and
start sketching. I thought while I was going it would be fun to put a hammer on
Thor’s hat just for laughs, so I look for Thor’s hammer too. Sabrina said she wanted the Viking style hammer from mythology rather than the hammer from the Avengers character. With the sketch done I email it to Sabrina to see she likes where it’s
headed. She responds that day she loves the
sketch and so now it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of the piece. I select
a hard brush that I’ve set up to act like an inking brush. Using black I outline the
sketch and start building the illustration. This goes pretty fast. I’m
just blocking it in over the sketch to get things in the right place. Once it’s all
blocked in, it slows down to a snail’s pace because now I have to go through
and polish it up to make it look really clean and professional. This part actually
takes the longest in the entire picture. Basically I’m shaving the pieces into fine points and cleaning up the roughness byn going back and forth from the
brush to the eraser, and I’m not gonna lie this part is tedious and towards the
end I’m really ready to be done. But patience is always rewarded. With that done I get to the fun stuff. First thing I do is start sampling
colors right from the photograph and then blocking them in. Right now I’m only
interested in flat areas of color. We’re just blocking it in like it’s gouache
acrylic paint or something. I don’t know why but I always think in terms of real
art materials like pens and pencils and paints. Maybe it’s a holdover from art
school when I worked with real paint pens and pencils. I dunno. Silly, right? Now the main colour areas are all blocked in I call this whole group of colors “glazes” because
when I’m done they will interact with everything the way colors do when
they’re baked onto clay. See? There I go thinking in terms of real world
stuff again. Now I create a new group and call this one “Ink Washes.” It’s not really
ink of course but I’m gonna come at it like it is. So I pick some scatter
brushes that look kind of like diluted inks or water colors and start shading and highlighting over the solid colors. this takes a while too because… cause I’m a crazy
perfectionist. But watching that picture start to come
off the screen is really cool OK here we go with the shadows and
highlights painted over it’s really starting to come together. Now we’re ready for the
background. So over the years I’ve amassed a tremendous library of resources to use
for art and design. I have literally gigabytes of textures and stock photos
and fonts and plug-ins from my apps. Along with some of the stuff that’s
built into Photoshop I can really build complex things very quickly Ok here’s the final background right here. I
chose this overall pinkish hue based on Sabrina’s crazy love for pink and all
told this background has about five layers to it. Now we put it all together the ink layer. Now the colors. The glaze colors get that baking I mentioned by blending the whole group with the textures from the
background. I want this whole thing to look like it was hand painted. I mean
technically it was but I need it to have a retro, slightly grungy feel to it.
Finally the most fun part is doing lighting effects and these really bring
the whole thing to another level. And there we are, all finished. I email a small
copy to the client for her approval and she loves it. So I send her a high-res
version. All totaled this particular piece took me just over 12 hours to
complete. let’s do a real quick recap: research,
sketch, inking, colors, color washes, the background, and final touches including
the lighting effects. Well that’s it guys! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the
digital art world and if you’re considering getting some artwork for
self, hopefully have a better idea what goes into that. If you have any questions
I would love to answer them for you, please get in touch with me. In the
meantime please check out my website for info on how YOU can get some awesome
artwork for your walls thanks for watching. CHEERS!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *