I was asked to paint a very special portrait of Archie the motorhoming Cockapoo. My client sent me some wonderful shots of Archie but this one stood out as capturing his expression. I hope you enjoy his progression. I began to film this piece but soon into Archie’s face I had a bit of a camera malfunction so I’ve compiled this blog a little more detailed than usual listing my colours also. If you’re painting a similar breed I hope this is helpful.

Archie’s finished portrait 10″ x 12″ soft pastel on velour.

Here are the colours used in Archie’s portrait. I used mostly Unison soft pastels and some Faber Castell Pitt pencils. You can see my full colour list at the bottom of this post.


Once I got Archie sketched out onto the velour I begin by blocking in the background. I make this plain and use some directional lighting to enchance the light that’s hitting Archie. He’s sort of backlit which makes for a very tricky portrait on a light coloured dog! I would advise to avoid backlit subjects if you’re just starting out in painting. But it can make for some lovely colourful fur and work really well if you place the highlights in the right places.

Starting to layer in some of the lower layers on Archie’s top half and some of the highlights along the top of his head.

Although I tend to work from dark to light, if there are important highlighted areas, I often add these in early. It’s also nice to get an eye looking back at me.

Archie’s gaze is starting to look right now. Using lots of yellows and lilac tints in the fur, especially in the shadows. Unison A31, Light 5, A21, A19 are all very useful in the shadows along with some warmer BE10 and BE9 as the browns.
For highlights my Grey28 (white) is used, also Grey 25, BE19.
This colour of dog reflects so many colours around also and because it’s indoor lighting, this tends to heighten that effect. But I’m carefully looking for colours within the curls, building up the layers gradually.

Around the bottom of the chin area I make use of NE1 and RE11 with BE6 as my darkest brown. It looks very dark when you put it down but I’ve found that on any good pastel paper, the lighter layers will go cleanly on top. On my recent experiment with Pastelmat I found this to be the case also. Pastelmat tutorial coming soon on www.patreon.com/emmacolbertart.

Next that nose gets my attention. He has such a lovely big nose with lots of nice brown tones through it. I use mostly the soft pastel but come back in with the black pencil to neaten.

The fur under the chin is very in shadow so I make use of my lilac A31 tones in here. Using the colour wheel opposite Lilac to Yellow helps with the colour harmony in the piece.


Getting there! And I use a lot of warm Y18 and BE19 on the chest. Keeping my white highlights for the left side of Archie where the light is hitting him.

Archie’s finished portrait with our three lunatics posing. Don’t know who wanted to pose more 🙂

We’ve also been having a wonderful time around the Algarve with the three pups in the van. It’s been hot and busy, but the beaches were the highlights for sure! I think Lola agrees!

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Archie progress. If you haven’t already, please check out my Patreon and Youtube channels ‘Emma Colbert Art’. Just hitting subscribe on Youtube helps me keep making videos and tutorials. Thanks for visiting!

Unison Pastels COLOUR LIST:
Grey28, BE19, Grey25, BE14, Yellow18, Additional19, Additional26, BV7, Grey18, Additional31, Light5, BE9, BE10, BE16, NE1, RE11, Yellow14, Additional21, Additional38, BE6, RE9, Grey8, Dark18, BE23, BV18, BV9