Welcome Peggy Osborne back in 2020 for another of her wonderful step-by-step tutorials. This time, she’s showing us how to draw a Golden Retriever.
How to Draw a Golden Retriever
For this tutorial I decided to draw a golden retriever as I see a lot of people struggle with the coloring of Goldens.
Goldens come in a variety of golden tones from a deep red to a pale, almost white golden color. This Golden Retriever is a mid-range golden color. I chose this reference for his sweet expression, which is common to this breed.
Here is the reference photo from Pixabay. I cropped the original a bit.
I’m drawing this on Strathmore Toned Tan Mixed Media Paper. I thought the color would be a nice background to work on, giving a warm glow to the final drawing.
Start with an Accurate Line Drawing
I start with a sketch showing the details I want to draw and the placement of the important features.
Getting the Eyes Right
I usually always start with the eyes. If they are not right then the rest of the drawing won’t be either.
The reference photo shows reflections of the window and shadows in the eye. I want to try to convey this in my drawing, so I start by placing those highlights with White.
Then I start layering Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Light Umber, and Dark Brown into each eye using a sharp point and light pressure to build up the layers slowly. I outline the eye and draw the pupil with Black, and use Blue Slate in the highlights.
To finish the eye, I use Greyed Lavender, White, and 70% French Grey around the eye.
Next, Draw the Hair Around the Eyes
Remember to always look closely at the reference photo and observe how the fur is arranged and growing. Start at the root of the hair and draw outward the way the fur grows. This gives you a sharp line at the end of the hairs and makes the hair look more natural.
You don’t need to use the same colors I use, these are just guidelines. I use Prismacolor pencils and if you use different pencils the colors will be slightly different, but you’ll still be able to succssfully draw this portrait.
I use a variety of colors to build up the layers; Cream, Rose Peach, Sienna Brown, Beige, Light Umber, Chocolate, Goldenrod, and Dark Brown.
Drawing the Face & Ears
I continue drawing the hair by marking the lightest areas with White.
Then I begin building up layers with lighter colors such as Light Umber, Beige, Peach, Sand, and Goldenrod, working from light to dark. In the darker areas, I use Light Umber, Chocolate, and Dark brown.
I continue layering those colors, but if I see another color in the reference photo, I add it as I work.
In addition, I keep drawing hair-like strokes in the direction the fur grows.
I lay in the darkest areas in the ear with Sepia and Light Umber. I wash the whole ear with Sand using a light touch.
Next I use White in the highlighted areas of the ear to create depth. Then I use a wash of Beige before going over the ear again with layers of Sepia and Light Umber to create more shadows.
With each layer, I draw more details in the ear, repeating the same process with the colors mentioned until I am finished.
I also added Peach, Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Dark Brown, and Burnt Ochre.
When the ear is finished, I move to the other side of the face and ear using the same method and colors.
Continue checking the reference photo as you work, and look for the color placement and apply colors accordingly.
The Muzzle and Nose
Here I’ve added more details to the far ear, and then started the muzzle. I drew the light and dark areas lightly with White and Light Umber to show the contours of the face.
I finish the muzzle using the same colors as the rest of the fur.
To make things easy on myself, I keep all the colors I use as I work in a separate container so I don’t have to look for them among all my pencils. I can just reach for the one I want and it’s right there.
To start the nose, I mark the highlights with White and the darkest areas with Black. The nose has a fleshy look so I use Rosy Beige, Clay Rose, and Peach as base colors. For the darker areas, I use Sepia and 90% Cool Grey.
Drawing the Neck and Chest
The next area is the fluffy hair beneath the chin and ear. I draw in the area with Light Umber. This area will go fairly quickly as it doesn’t have the details that the face has, and I will use solvent to blend it later.
Using various colors as previously stated, I add several layers of color so I can use the solvent to blend them smoothly. You need 4 to 5 layers to get a smooth blend when using solvent.
I use a light touch and draw lines to show definition in the fur and shadows. Sometimes, I also use the pencil on its side, softly creating a wash over the whole area. I repeated this step until I got the drawing where I wanted it.
Once the main colors are in place, I continue adding more layers and details, still using pretty much the same colors throughout the piece.
For the solvent blend, I apply the solvent with a little brush and make sure to follow the direction of the hair with the brush. This softens the colors without completely blending them and makes them look more natural. The solvent also makes the colors look brighter.
The next step is adding fine hairs and highlights with Brush & Pencil Titanium White Mixture. I apply this with a small brush over the areas I blended with solvent. You can see this in this photo.
The Final Steps
Just before finishing the drawing, I place it in a comparison split photo to see how the colors compare side-by-side.
I needed to add more Goldenrod and Greyed Lavender. I also added Dark Umber in the dark areas and then went in again with the Titanium White mixture to add more depth.
To add whiskers, I first used White, then went over them with Titanium White mixture to punch them up.
Then I converted the reference photo to black-and-white for a comparison of values without color.
This is the finished piece.
So Now You’ve Seen How to Draw a Golden Retriever the Way Peggy Does.
My thanks to Peggy for another great tutorial.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and are now ready to try your hand with a Golden Retriever portrait.
Or maybe you’d like to see other tutorials by Peggy, including How to Draw a Long Haired Dog. They’re all packed with good information and beautiful illustrations.
About Peggy Osborne
See more of Peggy’s work at Pet Portraits by Peggy. You can also meet Peggy in the January issue of CP Magic.
Peggy is an accomplished self-taught artist living in Canada specializing in creating beautiful realistic portraits of pets and family members. She’s had an on going love affair with colored pencils, loving their simplicity, for as long as she can remember.
She started out using graphite pencil so it was an easy transition to carry on with colored pencils. Love of animals and art go hand in hand. Peggy is in awe of what can be accomplished with colored pencils.
Ready for a more in-depth tutorial from Peggy? Purchase her Blue Eyed Aussie tutorial today for more great teaching.
Looks great! The black and white especially look almost like a photo of the dog. Add in background & most wouldn’t know the difference. My son has 3 labrador dogs [one yellow, one chocolate and one black]. I have drawn them all together for him & he loves it!
Thanks for commenting. It was a lot of fun to work on and add some different colors to create the coat. I bet the 3 dogs you did was great.
Not near as intricate as yours though. Wish I could post them here. Thanks!
Thankyou so much for you lesson I learnt a lot. Also thanks for sharing
Thanks for taking the time to comment and I am glad it was helpful. I have several other tutorials you might also find helpful. You can find the links to them on this page.
This is an amazing tutorial. Thank you so much. (uk)
Thank you so much Cindy. I am glad you enjoyed it.
Love the dogs. Do you spray a fixative on the picture after your done. I’m thinking of trying pastel pencil but there not cheap . Right now I’m working in water colour, but might be time for a change.
Thank you for reading this tutorial, and for your comment!
Peggy Osborne drew this dog, so I can’t answer your question about whether or not she uses fixative. I don’t think she does, but I’m not sure.
If you’re planning to try pastel pencils, be careful using a fixative. This drawing was in colored pencils, not pastel pencils. Pastel pencils are a lot more susceptible to damage and discoloration by fixatives than colored pencils.
So if you do try pastel pencils, test fixative on a sample piece first!
You can get started with either colored pencils or pastel pencils by buying just a few to try. If you like them, you can add colors as you’re able. If you don’t like them, you haven’t spent a lot of money on a full set!
Thank you again for your comment!
Thank you Carrie for the info about pastels. Very good advice. I did in fact spray this with a final fixative. It is colored pencil and I always use a final fixative with colored pencil work. I find it seals the pigment and prevents any possibility of wax bloom and protects it as well.
Thanks for answering, Peggy. I couldn’t recall that you’d ever said anything about using a final fixative!