Capturing the Likeness in a Custom Animal Portrait
The secret to capturing the likeness of an animal portrait lays firstly in the eyes. You must capture their expressiveness. Not only does this involve the light in the pupil, but the exact shape of the eyeball, the eyelid and the eyebrow. In my custom horse portraits, which are drawn in pencil, this involves a lot of precision in the light and dark contrasts. I take a lot of time in the eye region of my portraits. Using many layers of graphite, lightly building the dark areas, and using a kneaded eraser to soften edges, can be a tricky business.
Another important feature are the eyelashes. If not done at the correct angle in which they lay, or having too many, or too few can throw off the eye completely. I find using a fine point eraser works best in drawing the lashes on my horse portraits.
If after I believe I have done all that I can for an eye, but it still isn’t looking quite right, I flip the portrait upside down and look at it along side my photo, which I also turn upside down. Oddly, enough this usually points out any misdrawing flaws – and in a portrait drawing, the smallest missed detail can throw it completely off. I have found just moving a line or a shadow a fraction of an inch can make a huge difference in the outcome of my horse portraits.
If you have a favorite horse you’d like me to capture in a custom portrait for you, please check out my site: https://www.jbriggs.studio