Pet Portraits with Personality, Level 1- The Basics

The ability to draw pets and animals with personality isn’t in everyone…you’ve got to be an animal lover too! Using the simplest of art materials, you’ll learn how to draw animals step by step to bring out the textures, shapes, and spirit of your portrait subjects from Grant Fuller. Ready to work hard, have some fun and love what you’re drawing? Then you’re ready to learn how to draw pets!


Course registration comes with a digital download of Drawing Realistic Pets from Photographs by Lee Hammond.

Start Date:

September 2, 2014



Course Materials:

Workshop Length:

4 weeks


Grant Fuller (bio)

View Course Schedule


What You’ll Learn

  • Overview of drawing materials/equipment and when to use what
  • How to take/select reference photos for your portraits
  • How to draw fur
  • How to draw feathers
  • How to draw eyes
  • How to draw skin, etc.

Who should take this workshop:

  • Budding artists who want to learn how to draw animals, or specifically how to draw a pet
  • Experienced artists who want to get back to basics and learn/review helpful tips and techniques for portraying pets and animals, including drawing feathers, fur, eyes, etc.


  • Paper (papers that I suggest for experimenting are, Cartridge, Bristol, Illustration Board and good quality sketch books) These papers often go by their manufacturer’s name such as Strathmore or Canson but look for an acid free paper that feels heavy enough to tolerate some erasing and has a surface with a slight tooth. Practice on different surfaces will help you decide on the one you will eventually use for most of your work. I use an ink jet acid free cover stock for much of my sketching because it is 67 lb., and 8.5 x 11” which fits on the scanner for storing on the computer.
  • Pencils. A good basic mechanical pencil is ideal for rough sketches as well as planning the early stages of a more serious work. I prefer a .07 size and “B” leads but the most common size is .05 with HB leads, still very acceptable. Artists wooden pencils often come in sets and it is a good thing to have when starting to learn drawing. The sets usually have a wide range of hardness ranging from 6B (softest) to 6H (hardest). Exploring the character of all these will lead you to the specific type you will use most, then you can replace those separately.
  • (Optional) Other graphite sources. There are graphite sticks available which have no coating so they can be used on their side as well as the end for wider marks. They come in various degrees of hardness and sometimes a set contains a range of sticks. Carpenter’s pencils are a wider flat graphite in a wooden sleeve and needs to be sharpened with a knife. Solid graphite pencils are much like sticks but in the shape of a round pencil and most have a lacquer coating. There are lead holders available for larger diameter leads and this might be a good tool when doing large works. The leads made for these also come in a range of softness.

Other miscellaneous items:

  • A kneaded eraser is a most valuable tool. White plastic erasers are also good for more stubborn marks.
  • Paper stumps are a soft paper rolled to a point and used for smudging.
  • A small soft watercolor paint brush which will be used dry for dusting the graphite drawing when soft edges are needed.
  • A number 3 liner brush and a small tube of white water base paint such as Chinese White designer color. (there are several white water based paints, titanium white gouache, zinc white, etc., just NOT acrylic).
  • Pencil sharpener (electric is very convenient), snap off knife for manullay sharpening or shaping leads.
  • Very fine sandpaper is good for shaping leads to suit certain tasks.
  • Finally, a can of workable fixative, Krylon is the brand I know but there may be others.)

Course Syllabus

horseAssignment 1: The horse project will introduce you to getting proportions right, exploring the light strokes to create shorter looking hair as well as longer strokes for the more graceful hair texture. The medium to hard pencils make up the majority of this drawing with just a few dark areas that require softer leads to achieve the dark values. The background has been left out to make this less complicated for beginners.



CatsAssignment 2: The cat project introduces you to the ways of making soft fur and blended values. White on black strokes as well as lifting and delicate blending. Eyes are the key to personality here.




DogAssignment 3: The Dog. Body language has much to do with the personality of the subject in your work so careful selection of poses will be important. Here you are presented with the challenge of developing a solid background in addition to the lighting of fur.



GeeseAssignment 4: Geese: Maybe not a common pet but this project deals with all the drawing skills you will need for any animal you choose. Solid dark areas are required to create the black tones, blending, lifting large smooth areas of background make this challenge a complete package




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