How to Paint Your Pet’s Portrait

We offer monthly Paint Your Pet sessions in the San Jose area, however what if you want to paint your pet’s portrait on your own time? We are using acrylic paint for this example.

Here are a few tricks of the trade that we tell our painters during our Paint Your Pet sessions:

Step 1: Make sure that you start with an outline! This outline will help you stay focused on the contouring and colorizing of your painting, rather than focusing on whether your pet’s nose is too close to it’s eyes.

Sketched outline of pet
Step 1 – Sketched outline of pet


Step 2: We generally recommend that you paint your pet first, and then decide on your background color based upon the colors you used for your pet and the room or area that you want to hang your masterpiece.

When adding color to your pet, try to follow the natural contours of the body, head and limbs to build up volume within your painting.

Next, add in the movement marks and accent marks to your pet’s body, head and limbs to add more contrast to the light and dark areas.

Pro tip: To bring life to your pet’s eyes, take the back side of the brush and dunk it into your white paint. Dot 1-2 dots of white in the pupil of your pet’s eye to add a gleam!

Paint Your Pet First
Step 2 – Paint your pet first!

Step 3: Select your background color or texture. If there is a specific room or area of your home that you would like this painting to be hung in, then you want to pick a complementary color for the background color/texture.

The color wheel below can help you to pick Analogous color or Complementary colors based upon the primary colors in the room you want to hang the painting in, or the colors you painted for your pet itself.

Color Wheel
This color wheel shows analogous colors and complementary colors for picking your background color.
Painting Your Background
Step 3 – Paint your background, last!

Voila! You are finished with Pet’s portrait painting! Do not forget to sign your painting with your initials in the bottom right or left hand side of the canvas. Your painting will dry within 20-30 mins and is ready to be enjoyed. Your acrylic paint will dry like a hard plastic and does not need to be varnished.