I just love this face. It’s the face I wake up to every day as I stumble over her sleeping body to get to the coffee. It’s the face I fall asleep to every night as she sprawls out next to me, snoring and farting the whole night through. It’s the face I see every moment between the two, whether she’s “helping” to herd the patio raptors in the backyard or curled under my feet as I write.
For those who don’t know, Nico is our Australian Shepherd. She’s famous for her loyal friendship with our chickens and non-stop troublemaking.
I don’t know where the nickname Nicoface came from, but it’s our go-to name for this pup. She also dons the name Neekers, Sweet Baby Nico, and Pete. Don’t ask. Well, actually you can ask because it’s a stupid funny story.
You see, Nico and I came as a package deal when my then boyfriend (now husband) invited me to move in with him years ago. About a month into this new living arrangement we discovered that certain food items were quietly disappearing. Entire sticks of butter were vanishing from their container, half loaves of bread (always the fancy artisan loaves) were gone just a day after purchase, and brand new bags of snacks seemed to vanish before our eyes.
Being new at living together, we kept blaming each other for the sudden disappearances of delicious foods.
It wasn’t until it came time to put Nico’s beloved bed into the wash that I found what she was hiding beneath it. Countless butter wrappers, bread bags, and jars stolen from the recycle bin littered the floor.
From then on, Nico was dubbed Sneaky Pete, or Pete for short, for her stealthy thievery.
Anyway… I do still love my little Nico even though she is a big old butter thief. I decided to honor this gorgeous pup in my newest illustration. I hadn’t played around with colored pencils in awhile and thought they would work well to highlight Nico’s coloring, especially her bright blue eyes!
This project all began with a super adorable photo of Nico. She was very sleepy and grumpy on the day of this photo shoot, and clearly not in the mood to be the subject of my photography experiments. Even so, I knew this close up would be the perfect shot for a colored pencil illustration
I started off as always with a very light pencil sketch. All of my illustrations are drawn on Bristol Paper, its super smooth surface lends itself well to graphite, pen, and colored pencil.
After all of her features were roughly sketched out, I began adding color. I always go for the eyes first, as they’re the most fun. Nico’s eyes are especially interesting to draw, with their bright blue hue.
I used Prismacolor Colored Pencils to fill in the shades. I discovered the wonder of these incredible pencils back in art school and I haven’t touched another brand since. These pencils are soft, non-waxy, and super easy to blend. They also come in every shade imaginable, I adore them! They are a little on the pricey side, but if you’re serious about drawing realistically with colored pencils, they’re the best way to go.
After filling in the first few layers in the eyes, I jumped around a lot. I have crazy attention problems when it comes to artwork. I get restless easily and can’t focus on just one spot. I filled in her fur coloring little bit by little bit. The first 10 layers of color were super light, so they’ll all show when layered.
I used approximately two dozen shades of brown, gray, yellow, and blue just to make her many toned hairs appear realistic.
From there I began adding darker tones to deepen and strengthen the facial features. Tiny details in the eyes, nose, and fur were added for a touch of realism.
After many hours of layering color upon color, Nico’s face was finally finished!
I’m ecstatic with the outcome, and already hunting around for a frame so we can put her pretty face on the wall!
That’s all for now folks! Stay tuned to this channel, there will be another post up in a few days all about Dolly, our very cute and very angsty little Angora rabbit!
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Art Supplies used for this project:
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