• Amy Elizabeth Fine Art

Border Terrier Portrait- Creating Peggy the Border Terrier's Portrait in Pastels

Creating a Border Terrier Portrait in Pastels.

Following on from my blog post about photographing puppies, starring Peggy the border terrier, I have now completed her portrait! I thought it would be interesting for you to read about the process.


Border Terrier Portrait- A Bit About the Breed


When it comes to drawing dogs, a lot tend to be similar in appearance. All short hair dogs have the same hair patterns in terms of the direction of growth, which plays a big role in getting a nice three-dimensional looking portrait. However, when it comes to border terriers they are like no other dog breed to draw, they have very unique fur!


The kennel club states that the borders of Northumberland and Scotland gave the breed its name around 1880 after he was used as the earth dog with the Border Foxhounds. He had also earned the local names of the Reedwater Terrier and the Coquetdale Terrier.


In terms of looks, the border terrier breed standard says they should have a "head like that of an otter moderately broad in skull, with short strong muzzle. Black nose preferable, liver- or flesh-coloured nose not a serious fault."


In terms of their most distinctive coat "Harsh and dense; with close undercoat. Skin must be thick." They come in a variety of colours Red, wheaten, grizzle and tan, or blue and tan.


In looking after Peggy for a few weeks as she was a puppy, I found her to be fearless and quite independent, but quite happy to have a cuddle. I'm sure any border terrier owner can tell me they have quite a personality! The kennel club states their temperament should be "active and game" whatever that means (!)..


Border Terrier Portrait- The Reference Photos


Having spent some time looking after Peggy myself, I was able to take a range of photos of her. It was chosen to go for a head and shoulder shot of her, in a square composition. I used the main photo for the vast majority of the portrait, but used others for areas where there was less detail available, such as on the ears. I do think the photo is excellent as it represents her cute looks but also her inquisitive personality.


Border Terrier Portrait- Getting Started


Border Terrier Portrait - initial outline
The initial outline of the Border Terrier portrait

Here you can see the initial outline. It is not much to look at just yet! However, it does give a good idea of how the portrait will fill the space. This piece is 12 by 12 inches square, which is larger than real life. A nice big portrait makes a real impact as a piece of decor and is a lovely way to remember Peggy's short time as a puppy. (they grow up so fast!)






A border terrier portrait in pastels - initial layers
The initial layers of Peggy's border terrier portrait

In this photo you can see the beginning of the background. Pink was chosen in this portrait as Peggy had her favourite pink blanket on the ground in the picture. I thought it was a lovely colour to choose, as it really complimented the nice browns and dark tones in her fur.

You can see the initial layers of the fur and the ears are looking good. Although she definitely looks like she needs her eyes and nose drawing! For the initial colour layers, I used pastel sticks and also some panpastels.





Border terrier portrait - adding in the eyes and nose
Adding more layers and her eyes and nose

Here you can see I have built up the layers of fur and have drawn in the eyes and nose. Border terriers have very unique fur with so many colours mixed together. Some strands of hair even start off one colour then are a different colour to the end. To ensure I got a realistic rendition of the fur I had to build up layers of various colours. It was important to include the nice white wire hairs, which have such a distinctive look.






Border Terrier Portrait - The Finishing Touches


Border terrier portrait - adding the finishing touches
Nearly there - Just needs the finishing touches

Peggy the border terrier is starting to look like she is nearly finished. Once I get to this stage of her portrait, the littlest things can make such a big difference in how she looks.

The body is not quite finished here. In the photograph, the hair on the chest is not quite in focus and this is something I tried to show in the portrait. This meant I had to do quite a bit of blending and building up layers to show the distinct variations in fur colour, yet keep the appearance soft and out of focus.





The Finished Border Terrier Portrait

A border terrier portrait in pastels of Peggy the border terrier puppy
Peggy's Finished Portrait!

Here it is, the finished border terrier portrait of Peggy! I was very happy with how she turned out, I feel it suits her personality and is a good representation of her very cute appearance.


The pink tones are perfect for a little puppy and will look lovely with a white mount. This piece is going to be framed with a frame sourced from OutFramed at Ripley, so will be ready to go on the wall straight away.




I would love to hear your thoughts on Peggy's portrait. Border terrier portraits make lovely gifts for any border terrier owner in your life. All you need is a high-quality image of your pet for me to work from.


My name is Amy and i am a Pastel pet portrait artist based in Derbyshire in the UK. I work from photos provided by my clients to create realistic portraits.