The latest of my pet portrait commissions is Nick. I was asked to dress him as a pirate and had fun in my studio designing clothing to suit the little dog. Whenever preparing a new commission, I always start with the background. It helps having that first layer of paint for the other colors to build upon. I began by making a sketch from the photo, and adjusted the scale to leave enough room for the costume. After drawing a few possible outfits, each was overlaid in tracing paper to find the best fit. I like to work with my drawings on tracing paper, because the pieces can be moved around to see how it all works together. The little parrot was added as a finishing touch, to push the pirate look, balance the composition and create contrast. The sketch was then transferred to the cradleboard (5" x 5" x 3/4") using carbon paper. After the underpainting, details were added to finish the portrait.