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January 10, 2017 3 min read

If you look at any piece of fine art portrait of any pet or human, landscape or subject matter, the major differentiator between a great painting and an ordinary one will be the use of lighting. Great lighting effects in the painting can even add a magical or ethereal effect, superior lighting is particularly effective in pet portraits, this is because the animals fur and hair can actually made to glisten with lighting which adds a super natural quality to the painting which can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end, and the very least will draw your interest into the picture and allow you to experience the beauty of your favourite pet.

If you are looking to commission a wonderful dog painting or horse painting, you should look carefully at previous examples of the artist work to see that they can incorporate complex lighting effects and that they are rendered in a pleasing way, a pet portrait which ignores lighting effects may still look pretty, but it will be flat and dull overall and have a feeling of superficiality that you don’t want, these types of pet portraits will only capture your interest for a couple of days, there are a lot of internet painters and artists who have poor skills in lighting that “churn” out these types of pet portraits, here we always incorporate profound lighting effects, to truly represent your horse, dog or cat in all it’s glory, so you will never be disappointed.

In terms of lighting effects, we will normally select one point of focus for the light to be emanating from, most photos including those taken with a flash camera will have such a point of source light, photos taken in natural sunlight are best though. The artist will then render the painting as if the light and consequent shadows result from this source of light. Take a look at this example and see the light on the top of head has been used as a focal point, the dog is super cute as well, which helps a lot :)

  Now here is the actual photo below

However, the artist will normally magnify the effect at source, so that you can actually, take a look at this example below, you can see the light has been slightly emphasised in the oil painting, the real skill involves this effect and also the gradation of shading which occurs in the painting, the more shadows and subtle areas of shade, the more three dimensional the painting will become and leave the viewer enthralled.

The final “coup de grace” can be delivered by using a small point of light in the eyes/pupils of the horse or dog, as the eyes are the “window to the soul”, in terms of importance the eyes are the most critical component of the painting and are normally the first thing that a viewer will look at, mastering the eyes and lighting are some of the trade secrets of our fine artists, developed through years of rigorous training with masters of the craft, using the key components of light and hue allow our artist to distinguish themselves as leaders in their field, and deliver fine dog portraits and horse portraits to our customers, we will look at “missing components” in our next blog on artistic licence.