I start every portrait differently, depending on the colors, hues, facial structure, lighting, and texture necessary. Each subject will require a certain number of layers of color to achieve that super realistic look.
With Harris, I started by defining all the dark areas of his face.
I then moved up one step lighter and established all of the dark (but slightly lighter) areas.
Working my way up from dark to light, I proceeded to define all the mid tones and highlighted areas of his face. While most of Harris' hair appears to be monochromatic, it has undertones of warm and cool browns, so the first layer is where I put those down. They become softer as the portrait progresses.
You can also see in the photo below where I began to blend and soften certain areas.
Notice that I have left his eyes and nose completely blank?
All of the base layer colors give me a sort of map to work from. It helps me later on in the portrait when I'm more focused on fine details so that I'm not concerned with where exactly that shadow falls on his face, or what direction that tuft of fur moves in.
You see in these photos that I began turning those blocks of color into hair strokes around his eyes.
Again, many many layers of color to establish that look of real hair.
Onto the cheeks and snout...
Once the eyes were done, I moved kind of sporadically around his face with the hair stroke movements. It's a matter of darkening the shadows and brightening the highlights.
This is the final effect of all those layers. They give the illusion of depth! :)
And now, finally, I filled in the nose. (Always one of the last things I complete.)
In the final stages, I used stark white and pure black to clarify the really dark shadows and to make the highlights really pop off the paper!
And last but not least, I filled in the neck and chest. Because this is secondary to the face, I based the amount of detail as well as colors and tones with those in the face. I didn't want his chest to be darker or bolder than his head.
And finally... Harris Puppy is done!
I eat, sleep, and breathe art. I'm fond of horses and put ketchup on everything. =]