Today’s critique comes from an anonymous artist. She has painted these two dogs in acrylics. This was her first time painting animals in realism. These dogs look SO good! The nose on the lab is especially great. You’ve got perfect color and texture there! The shine on the lab is also awesome. Your drawings are quite accurate which is perfect given your goal is realism. I can’t stress enough the importance of starting with an accurate drawing, and you’ve done that here!

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Looking at a few things we can adjust to improve on this piece even more, first I’ve imported your reference photo and painting into photoshop. I laid your reference photo over the original and lined those up as close as I could get them.

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As you can see, the drawing is REALLY close. There is only one real spot that I would bother to adjust, and that is where the mouth of the little dog touches the lab. The ridge above the lab’s eye is missing. By adding that back in, and pulling out the darkness under the small dogs mouth, that makes a big difference.

I didn’t adjust this in photoshop, but I would also hype up the contrast a big on the smaller dog, and add more shadows on the tan part of his coat. Right now it’s really washed out with very little shading. Adding a bit there will create a lot more dimension.

My last tip for this is on the background. The flourescent green that you have on yours is drawing my attention away from the dogs and towards that bright green. You want your background to work with the piece, to complement the subjects without drawing attention from them.

Look what happens when we just leave the background white. Suddenly it’s the dogs I’m focused on.

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You don’t need to stay with just white, another option would be to use the same colors used in the dogs, but softer.

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Making this simple adjustment on the background takes your photo from looking good, to looking super realistic. The other thing to notice is that I cropped the painting. There was a lot more background showing above the dog’s. By removing some of that, it gives the piece a better overall balance.

You’ve done such an amazing job, I can’t get over the fact that this was your first time painting realistic dogs!!