In this second session,  we will be joined once again by Nathan Brown from Trailhead Design Co, who will be following from last week's session and and guiding us through adding watercolour to our pet portrait and bringing it to life!

If you've missed Part 1 - How To Paint A Pet Portrait -Preparation & Sketching, make sure to watch it and see how Nathan prepared and sketch his pet portrait of a cat.

To help you follow along, you can use the written tutorial below.

Add Detailing

Use the VizRef application and open the reference image as well as the sketch image next to the outline that was drawn previously. Choose a smooth, watery and rounded brush and layer the color upon the cat. You can also use the Soft Edge Round Brush for this. Choose gray and start painting the cat. 

Pro tip: Pick a light color and then build the color by adding darker shades.

Add layers to build and add more paint to each layer.


Pro tip: Watercolor always has some kind of texture, whether it's the texture of the paper or it's the paint itself. 

Make sure to use the Master Watercolor Brush. There are three sections in the set, the brushes, the washes, and the splatters. The washes include a gigantic set of watercolor wet paint. Use the Eraser Brush and click on washes. Add some texture to the layer and bring down the opacity. Use the Blur Tool to blur it out.

Add details and darken the areas to give the portrait depth and character. Use a Wash Stamp to erase out some sections around. 

Add a Background

Add an initial Background Wash. Choose an orange color for the background. Keep a shape in mind, keeping the natural extension of the portrait. Add detail around the eye with the initial dark layer. Use the Blur Smudge Tool and blur out the harder edges. 

Use the Loaded with Paint and Fine Liner Brush to paint with white specifically to whitewash. Let the hard edges bleed with the watercolor effect. Use the Loaded with Paint Brush on Eraser Tool and rough out the edges. Use the Smudge Tool and smudge the colors out. 

Follow along the same smudging process all along with the cat’s portrait, giving it a detailed look. Make sure to add highlights. Add white and smudge the whitewash to create highlights, using the sketch as a guide and the reference photo.

Pro tip: The more water you have in the paint, the more transparent the paint wash gets.

Turn the sketch back off to add a layer of light grays. Use the Water Brush that’s neither light nor too transparent. Add a new layer of washes on top of the layer. Use a dark orange color and pick the Splatter Washes Brush. Blur out the hard edges. 

Paint the Features

Add a contrasting color to paint in the eye. Pick an aqua blue-green color using the Water Brush and the Loaded Paint Brush. Make sure to add a pink highlight to the nose. 

Face Touch-Ups

Darken the black areas to add details to the face. Use brushes from the Detailed Brush Set and add fine details to the face through touch-ups. This will give it a definition. 

Add another whitewash by creating a diffusion in the solid black areas. Make sure to define all the shapes on the portrait. Pick them one by one and define them by adding depth and details to make the portrait look realistic. 

Pro tip: Avoid worrying about the fur details. Let the watercolor paint itself to get directional pieces.

Use the Wash Brush to add a coat of fur on the cat with low opacity. Break the dark area by adding light fur. Make the tips of the fur black instead of gray or white. 

Break the smoothness of the color by using Salt Brushes. Use any of the Salt Brushes to add a soft texture to the fur of the cat. This mimics the highlights on the fur from the reference image. 

Add Splatters

Put an extra bit of rendering by using splatters. Add black dark splatters overlapping the cat’s fur on the left. Make sure to not overdo and go beyond the focal point. The idea is to drive attention to the cat’s features. Add splatters in various directions. 

Add light splatters by choosing a white color. Pick the Wet Splatters Brush and turn down the opacity. Add subtle details by adding a render to it, to break the solid areas of paint. 

Add Sharp Details

Create whiskers of the cat to add sharp details. Using a super thin brush. Draw thin lines for whiskers with white paint. Add multiple strands of whiskers to add depth, making the cat look realistic. 

Play with the color curves by adjusting the color, hue and saturation. Make the darks slightly darker and the highlights lighter. 

Use a Watercolor Texture from The Ultimate Canvas Creator. Turn the paper on. Make sure the painting goes below the paper folder in a maternal bond. This adds a level of realism to the painting. To do this, simply copy and paste the file. 

Congratulations, you have successfully learnt how to paint a pet portrait by adding watercolor.