Project Overview

If you only have time to work on one piece this month, try this Pet Portrait Project. Pet portraits are typically a close-up of the pet’s face – which is great for two reasons 1. you don’t need to study dog or cat body anatomy, and 2. you get to focus on the pet’s face! 

Taking your time to draw the pet’s facial details is really fun; especially painting fur or hair with the Bristle Painter brush from my Gouache Paintbox OR these really fun (and FREE) Fur and Fluff brushes.

Here’s What to Do

For this project, brainstorm some pets you’d like to draw. Do you have a cute pet yourself? Does your best friend’s family have a beloved dog? (This would make an excellent gift for them.) Or have you always dreamed of having a white Persian cat with blue eyes or a mini Australian shepherd pup? Make yourself a little list of pet ideas and pick the one you’re most excited to draw!

If you’re stuck on what pet to draw, check out gallery full of pet portrait inspiration.

Let’s break it down

Once you have decided on a pet, follow these steps to help break down the process into easy-to-follow bite-size steps that you can do here and there throughout the month.

TIP: References are allowed!

Using reference photos is “allowed” and encouraged!! No one has every animal/bird/reptile’s body and face saved to their memory. Drawing from a reference is highly useful and can give you lots of helpful insight into the details of your subject.

Artboard 1


Crop your chosen reference photo so that only the pet’s head shows. Remember, we’re just focusing on highlighting that cute little nose, ears, or eyes!

Artboard 1 copy


Turn down the opacity on your pet photo in Procreate and trace over the image. At this point, your reference photo provides a general outline for you to start drawing from. 

Artboard 2


Once you’ve got a nice messy and loose traced sketch of your pet, turn off your reference photo layer. You can still keep it up to look at using Procreate’s Reference Companion feature.

Artboard 3

make it your own

At this point, if you’d like… you can choose to redraw some of your pet’s features in your own way. Maybe your pug has ridiculously huge eyes, and you want to emphasize that in your Pet Portrait. Or perhaps you want your dog to have a goofy grin – and in your reference, the pet looked serious. 

You can make this anyway you want, so loosen up and draw something silly, or serious, or whatever! It’s all in the name of fun and learning!

Artboard 1 copy 2

color + texture

Once you have a sketch you’re liking it’s time to paint or color it! Try laying down some flat color to start with. If your Pet Portrait feels flat, add some texture and visual interest.

Artboard 1 copy 3


Once you’ve got your pet drawing done, you can draw an oval or circle for the drawing to “live in.” This will anchor the illustration and make it feel balanced. 

You could even add embellishments around this frame, like a banner with the pet’s name, or little illustrations like florals or your pet’s favorite things. Check out the Pet Portrait board for more ideas!

Artboard 1 copy 5

Bonus Step! Print & Hang

Print out your beautiful art and hang it in your home or gift it to a friend!

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