• Amy Elizabeth Fine Art

Pastel Pet Portraits from Photos- Black Labrador Portrait

A work in progress blog post on the creation of a black labrador portrait in pastels | By Amy Elizabeth Fine Art | Pet Portrait Artist



A photo of a pastel pet portrait of a labrador, with pastel pencils around it
A work in progress photo of a black labrador pet portrait in pastels


Current Work In Progress- Black Labrador Portrait in Pastels


I am currently working on what may turn out to be one of my favourite pet portraits. Who is the subject of this portrait? A lovely ten year old black labrador.


The photo I was sent in order to to create a pet portrait from, was a lovely bright photo in which his owner said was one of her favourite pictures of him, as his ears are forward and thats what he does when he's happy. It is so important when commissioning a pet portrait, whether it is a labrador portrait, or of any other animal, to already start with a photograph of your pet that you love. Most artists work by making their own interpretation of an exact photograph, so it is important to be very happy with that photo, both with the composition and how your pet looks.


The photo I was send was very highly detailed, this meant that we could go with a larger size portrait. Whilst I don't have a real life labrador head to compare to, I think it is about life size. (It is definitely larger than my dog Monty's head!)



Pastel pet portraits really are one of things, where they really spend a long time looking nothing like the end result, then suddenly they start coming to life.



Here you can see a time lapse in this video of the process up until now. He is not finished, I would describe him as 80% of the way there.


I like to start with the dog's eyes and nose and in this case also the mouth before I start doing any major work on any fur. Starting with these features means you can kind of already see a dog looking back at you, which I quite like.


In this labrador portrait we have a lot of black fur. I used a black Pan Pastel for an under-layer for a lot of the fur, then using pencils over it to create the individual hairs. This is what I am using when I am using a blue stick with a sponge on the end.


As you can see he currently has a bit of a halo around him. This is not how it will look in the end! I use the background colour just round the edges, so then the hairs round the edge can go over the background colour. Here we have used a quite soft grey. I recommended this colour for the background as it works nicely with the sun's highlights in his fur.



Black Labrador Portrait in Pastels - An Update


Albert is now finished and has been gifted to a very happy recipient! I love pastel pet portraits that are commissioned as gifts. They really do make the perfect thoughtful present to the dog lover in your life.

Black labrador Portrait in Pastels
Albert's finished portrait in pastels - I would love to hear our thoughts!



I have loved creating this portrait and can't wait to get him finished. If you want a labrador portrait of your beloved pet, don't hesitate to get in touch. I am a pastel and coloured pencil pet portrait from Derbyshire in the UK. Working from photos of your pet taken by you, I create beautiful realistic pet portraits.