How Do You Draw A Pet Portrait Step By Step?

You can get a custom portrait of your pet in two ways. The first way involves using a reputable website like As a professional company, all you’ll need to do is submit a photo of your pet, pay for the product you’re wanting, and have an amazing custom portrait delivered.

The second way is for the artistically inclined individuals. Using some high-quality paper and artist’s pencils (these will contain different grades of lead in them for shading purposes, you can follow these step-by-step directions to draw your favorite pet.

Create your initial sketch

Using a light pencil, gently outline your pet’s portrait on the paper. Take note of the proportions when you’re drawing. Watch for the distance between the eyes, the positioning of the nose, or any unique characteristics on the ears. You can use any method to create your outline, with tracing and grid methods being the easiest techniques to transfer the design.

Get the eyes done properly

They often say that the eyes are the window into the soul, and it’s no different when drawing. Completing the eyes is one of the most important parts of any drawing, as it’s the first place anyone will look. You want to make sure your eyes are dramatic, alive, shiny, and full of emotion.

It’s important to look at the reference photo continuously while you complete the eyes, as shading and transfer need to happen at the same time. Take notes of the white highlights and darkest shadows of the eyes. It’s easiest to leave white fur or highlights white, gently shading over the area afterward if there’s too much contrast.

Move on to the Ears

Remember that the ears are a different texture than the rest of the portrait and should have a silky-smooth appearance over the rest of the photograph. Pay close attention to the direction of the fur, as the different nooks and crevices can change the position of the hair. Always begin with the fur closest to the head and work your way outward. End with the tips of the ears and any stray hairs that show in the photograph.

Start Working the Fur

To start building up the fur texture and shading, start at the top of the head and work your way around the face of the pet. You’re going to want a medium shade pencil, preferably around a 4B for shading the darker fur. Make sure to use gentle strokes. The idea here is to get dark, crisp lines, not muddied blending. Always make sure that you’re working in the same direction of the pet’s fur for the shading to add depth and dimension in your portrait.

Finish off with the nose

The trick to drawing a pet nose is determining whether the nose is naturally wet (like a dog nose would be) or naturally dry (like a feline nose). Once you’ve got a good idea, apply those elements to your shading. A wet nose requires the proper highlights and shading to the tip of the nose and undersides of the nostrils. For a dry nose, you’re going to want to limit the textural differences between your highlights and lowlights. Make sure you follow the reference photo to see where the lightest portion of the nose is and follow that area first.

Helpful Tips for drawing your pet portrait

  • Use a separate sheet of copy paper to cover areas you’ve already finished. This will limit the drawing’s smearing that typically occurs with graphite, pencils, and charcoal, keeping your highlights bright and vibrant
  • Don’t be afraid to use an eraser to lighten areas that have become too dark. It’s easiest to simply keep highlights light than to erase a dark area, but sometimes going back through can help fix any mistakes you’ve made with your shading.
  • Practice makes perfect. Like learning how to ride a bike, perfecting a pet portrait is no simple task. Make sure you spend time working with different features of your pets in different images to improve your overall skill, technique, and design.