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  • Writer's pictureKevin Roeckl

Shasta portrait in progress 5 - The importance of eyes

It’s the day I’m doing Shasta’s eyes. The most critical part of any portrait. 


A whole bunch of reference photos are on the monitor to guide me. The main photo I’m using is at the bottom, with some others above it to help me get all the details of Shasta's tri-color/merle coat just right. And a whole column of ref pics showing Shasta’s eyes (far right on the monitor). 


Why so many reference photos? I am mostly copying what I see in the main photo. But often photos are not as crisp as they could be. Many are taken with phones, sometimes low-resolution, "pixelated" when I zoom in to see details. Lighting may not always be the best, color might be off. By looking at other photos that show the feature at a similar angle, I can verify that I am capturing the color correctly, and that I am accurately seeing the curve of the upper eyelid, the amount of white showing on the eyeball, the color of skin by the inner corner of the eye, the shape of a slight shadow below the eye socket. These are things that are different with each individual. Capturing those tiny nuances are what make that individual look like "them".

Colored pencil portrait of an Australian Shepherd, in progress in Kevin's studio, with reference photos on a monitor

Now you can see why it was so important for me to see accurate photos of Shasta’s eyes.

A close-up of today’s work.

Detail of a colored pencil portrait of an Australian Shepherd, in progress

Prismacolor pencil on "Felt Grey" Canson paper.


"Shasta" was commissioned by Diane B. as a gift for her son and his fiancé. Shasta is a 10-year-old Australian Shepherd, a very beloved friend and companian.


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