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Mabel the border collie
Mabel the border collie

Ten steps to painting realistic eyes for dog portraits in pastels


Lucy Swinburne - Posted on 18 Apr 2011

1. Make sure the ivory pencil is sharp then fill in the iris in a light layer on the left and right eye. Work around the pupils on both eyes, starting from the bottom of the eye and moving in towards the pupils.

painting eyes stage 1

2. Use sharpened green grey to fill in the pupils as a base for the black to come. Add short vertical lines under the pupils within the iris. Re-do the white highlights within the pupil with a sharp point.

3. Go back over the same area with a soft layer of ochre light, but don’t obliterate the ivory. Try not to go over the white highlights.

4. Work from the pupil to the outer edge of the eyes with ochre dark. Concentrate the colour mainly under the pupil and fade it out gradually towards the bottom of the iris on the left eye first. The right eye needs to be darker; press very gently as it is quite a bright colour. If you use too much, lift it off with a putty rubber.

5. Use ivory again, working from the outer edge in towards the pupil on the left eye.

6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5, keeping the shading in short streaks on the left eye. Then work from the bottom of the pupil down towards the base of the iris (see original photograph). Top up the white highlights in the pupils.

7. Sharpen the black pencil and fill in the pupil on the left eye first. Don’t be tempted to draw an outline around it, just fill it in roughly, copying what you can see in the photograph.

8. Outline the eyes and add the shadow on top of the iris, which is cast by the top eyelid..

9. Darken the iris where you can see depth in the photograph. If the eye colour is too pale once black is added, reinstate the colours carefully. Clean the pencil tip each time you use it.

10. Finally, re-do the white highlights within the pupils and skim glacier blue over the top part of the pupils to create a watery effect.

Full step-by-step instructions on painting black and white fur, plus how to paint Mabel's mouth and nose complete the demonstration to paint beautiful border collie. The full article article by Lucy is available in the June 2011 issue of Leisure Painter

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