Waiting – A Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and watercolor on a Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Aqua Elite Travel Brush Set, Series 4850 Synthetic Kolinsky 

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Some paintings, you just start and go with the flow. But if you are using a reference, it is often best to think about what you like about it and how you might achieve it. Don’t stress, even if you don’t know for sure, it will help.

Did you know that dogs have a sense of time? It’s been scientifically proven.

Reference photo courtesy of Fran on Pixabay.

And what I wanted from this reference photo was that expression of patient waiting for something to happen. He knows it isn’t time yet.

I chose the Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcard so that the texture would add to the dog’s wild ‘do!


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

Even as he patiently waits, this guy is busy – all that hair and the big eyes and nose and the division of color. I did a little more pencil work than usual, to get a sense of what went where.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.


There’s a lot of penwork going on here and I thought I break things down a little more than I usually do.

Some of my penwork was done to establish values:

  • The lightest area, I leave the white of the paper.
  • For the lightest grey, I draw long even strokes.
  • The mid-grey at the bottom, I use long, even strokes that curve to the shape of the nose
  • The nostrils are the darkest part of the nose – I used tight, curling strokes, but still left space for the paint to show.

Some of my penwork was done to establish length and direction of the fur.

For long hair:

  • I used long strokes that curve in the direction of the hair – they’re pretty wild, because the hair is
  • I’m sneaking in some values too – I darken some areas
    • where the hair separates
    • where the hair casts shade

For shorter hair:

  • I use strokes of varying length – more evenly than the long hair strokes
  • For value, I just add more strokes where it is darkest

For texture:

  • I use swirling lines – very loosely – to imply the texture of the carpet.
  • The lines follow the direction of the nap.

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

6 thoughts on “Waiting – A Pencil to Paint Tutorial

  1. I started a similar portrait a few months ago and it is still tucked away, waiting to be finished. I painted with dots and then wondered if I should use line work instead. Still to be determined. I love your sweet illustration. Well done!

    I have used that grid as well at various times. Very useful. And when a student was having trouble and kept saying I can’t draw, I showed him the grid and explained how to use it. The look on his face was priceless…and he managed to get the assignment done. Thanks for reminding me about the grid. I have it saved on my desktop…have forgotten about that too! 🙄😝

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