How to Draw an Irish Setter

Peggy Osborne joins us again this month to show us how to draw an Irish Setter. Let’s get right to it.

How to Draw an Irish Setter

Hi all, welcome to another tutorial.

This month I’m showing you how I draw an Irish Setter pup. The reference photo is from Wet Canvas. (You must be a registered Wet Canvas user to see the photo.)

The Irish Setter is known for its rich red color, but I didn’t use red in this tutorial. Instead, I used the following Prismacolor colors:

Burnt Ochre
Clay Rose
Nectar
Black
Grape
Henna
Sepia
Dark Brown
Chocolate
Terra Rose
Sienna Brown
Mineral Orange
Seashell Pink
Greyed Lavender
Rosy Beige
Peach
Mahogany Red
Black
White

A Tip for Picking Colors

Sometimes I use a free color picker app called Just Color Picker to help choose colors. I placed the picker tool onto the original photo, and can clearly see the color. When I can’t decide if an area is cool or warm or if I need an orange or brown color, this tool isolates the color. That makes it easier to see.

I chose this photo, because I love drawing “cute” pets. It also shows a wide range of red from the very dark shadow areas to light apricot in the ears.

How to Draw an Irish Setter - The reference photo

I’m using Heavyweight Vellum Drawing paper by Bee Company. Heavyweight Vellum is a white paper and has enough tooth to be able to add several layers of pencil.

I’m also using Prismacolor pencils but you can use whatever paper and pencils you have available. This should be a fun project.

The Line Drawing

My first step was to trace an outline of the dog onto the paper. Add as much detail as you like when you make your tracing.

The line drawing for how to draw an Irish Setter

Start with the Eyes

I always start a portrait with the eyes. I love looking into the dog’s eyes as I work. When I get them right, the rest just falls into place for me.

I studied the reference photo closely when looking for the colors I needed. Then I drew around the eyes with Dark Sepia and used White in the highlights.

For the color of the eyes, I layered first with Cream, then Light Umber. I went around the outside of the eyeball with Dark Brown as shown in the reference photo. To redefine the shape of the eye and pupil I outlined them with Black. Then I added a touch of Mineral Orange to the eye for more depth of color.

Draw the Fur around the Eyes

I usually work with a light touch with every color and carefully follow the reference photo.

Working from light to dark around the eyes, I used Cream, Mineral Orange, Burnt Ochre, Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Dark Brown , Sepia and Black.

When working on white paper, I use the Slice tool to create fine hairs by removing color back to the white of the paper. You cannot get that effect on dark paper or if you start out by using the darker colors first. The dark colors have to be on the top of the layers.

On the forehead, I layered Cream and Seashell Pink in the highlighted areas.

For the rest of the hair, I used Mineral Orange, Burnt Ochre, Sienna Brown, and Chocolate. I’ll be using all the colors I mentioned at the beginning, but at different times and in different areas depending on the affect I want.

I continued adding the colors to fill the tooth of the paper using the colors I mentioned previously in addition to Terra Rose, Mahogany Red and Rosy Beige.

I look at my reference photo continuously while working and follow the direction of the fur. When drawing fur, I draw from the root of the hair out to make it look more realistic.

Once I have the layers of color in place, I use the colorless blender to blend them together seamlessly and fill the tooth of the paper.

Drawing the Far Ear

Knowing ahead of time that I’d be using my Slice tool to scrape out tiny hairs, I worked from light to dark. Once again following the photo, I drew in directional strokes of fur with layers of Seashell Pink and Eggshell along with Dark Brown, Mineral Orange and Burnt Ochre.

To finish the ear, I added the same colors along with other colors like Sienna Brown and Sepia for depth. I also used Black Grape in a few areas.

Throughout this area, I continued looking at the reference photo and drew the colors I saw. Once the tooth of the paper was filled, I used the Slice tool to scrape out some fine hairs all over the ear.

Now on to work on the muzzle.

For the base colors of the muzzle I used Seashell Pink, Cream, Mineral Orange, Terra Rose, Sienna Brown and Light Umber. I layered these with directional strokes showing the direction the hair grows on the muzzle.

The first color I I layered on the nose was Black in the nostril, around the nose, and the crease in the nose. I used light pressure in each area.

Then I added a light wash of Black in the darkest areas and a wash of White in the lightest areas. Next I washed Blue Slate over the entire nose, and washed Sepia on the lower part of the nose. Then I used my colorless blender to blend these colors together.

To finish the nose, I continued adding these colors until the tooth of the paper was filled. Then I used my electric eraser to tap out little spots on the nose, and used the Slice tool to add more texture to the nose.

Then I went back in with Black and lightly circled some of the spots for a more complete look.

I always follow the color pattern I see in the reference photo and constantly look at my reference photo.

Finishing the Face

The darkest shadows are darkened with Sepia, then the next colors are Mahogany Red and Terra Rosa and Chocolate for the next darker values. For the light values, I used Seashell Pink, Beige, Mineral Orange and Light Umber.

How to Draw an Irish Setter

For the cheek, I used the same colors and added layers to fill in the tooth of the paper. This is pretty much my whole technique throughout a drawing; layers and more layers.

Drawing the Mouth

For the mouth, I used my white pencil to draw highlights on the lip and teeth. There is a lot of lavender color in the mouth area since it is in shadow, so I used Greyed Lavender, Rosy Beige, Black Grape, Blue Slate, White and a touch of Eggshell on the teeth.

Below the lips where the hair is, I used Dark Brown , Eggshell, Burnt Ochre, Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Sepia and Dark Brown. Then I used my Slice tool to pull out some color and added white for the light hairs on the chin.

Next I finished the muzzle and cheek with the same colors, but watched closely where to place the lighter colors and the darker colors according to the reference photo.

When I finished adding color, I used the Slice tool to scrape out tiny hairs under the nose.

How to Draw an Irish Setter

Drawing the Near Ear

The near ear has an overall lighter appearance than the other ear due to the light source. I used the same colors, but focused on the lighter tones.

I started by drawing hairs in a directional stroke with Clay Rose followed by a wash of Cream and Nectar. Then another round of directional strokes with Chocolate and a wash of Seashell Pink with touches of Mineral Orange here and there.

Additional layers followed the same pattern—directional strokes and washes. I used Burnt Ochre on the top and front area of the ear, and Sienna Brown on the back area. Then I washed Greyed Lavender on the back area of the ear and Eggshell on the top and front.

More light falls on the top and front of the ear, so the colors are slightly different.

How to Draw an Irish Setter

In additional layers, I used Beige as a wash overall, then Burnt Ochre on the front and top of the ears. I then used Cream to lightly burnish the whole ear.

I finished the ear by adding more layers of the same colors to fill the tooth of the paper.

In the dark areas, I added dark colors based on the reference photo. I did the same thing in the light areas, adding White to keep them bright.

I put sepia under the ear to define the darkest shadows on the neck, then topped the ear off with a touch of titanium white mixture to show some light feathery hairs.

How to Draw an Irish Setter

Drawing the Neck and Shoulder

I’ll describe this fairly quickly because it’s just following the same method of layering and using all the same colors throughout.

The neck and shoulder also don’t have the same level of detail as the face with the eyes and nose being the focal point of a portrait.

I started by leaving the lightest areas white and drawing all the layers of colors I saw in the reference photo. I continued referring to my reference photo, sometimes zooming in to get a closer look at an area.

To finish, I layered colors to fill the tooth of the paper. It’s a process of looking at the colors and applying with a directional stroke to get the depth and realism you want.

I filled in the lightest areas with a white pencil, and then dragged darker colors over and through the lightest areas to blend them.

How to Draw an Irish Setter - Nearly finished

Finishing the Portrait

I completed this piece by scraping fine whiskers with the Slice tool, and adding more highlights with Brush and Pencil titanium mixture.

As always I used a comparison photo to check colors and likeness. First the color version and then the black-and-white version.

The black-and-white version helped me see if the values were close. I actually do this comparison throughout the process. It helps me catch something early in case I need to make a change.

How to Draw an Irish Setter - Check values by converting the drawing and reference photo to black and white and then comparing them.

So that’s how to draw an Irish Setter. Here’s the finished piece.

How to Draw an Irish Setter - The Finished portrait.

The Tools I Used to Draw an Irish Setter

Just for fun, I wanted to share a picture of the pencils I used. Remember this is a solid color dog and it’s amazing how many colors went into creating it. I think there are about 30 different pencils.

You’ll also see the electric eraser and Slice tool. I used the little paint brush for applying titanium white mixture.

The tools used in the How to Draw an Irish Setter tutorial.

Are You Ready to Draw an Irish Setter?

You can follow the steps in Peggy’s tutorial with any Irish Setter. Remember, you don’t have to use the same pencils or paper Peggy uses to get good results. It’s all about following the reference photo and drawing what you see.

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.

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