Pet Portraits Diploma Course (D5)

Tutored by Gayle Mason

The Pet Portraits Course is a Diploma Course

This is an intensive Pet Portraits course in learning how to draw and paint all types of pets and animals. We open the course with a comprehensive chapter presenting information and advice on various mediums. We also list the materials you may need in which to complete the Pet Portraits course. It will give you a complete run through of the mediums and lists some of the brands of paints, pencils and paper with information on each that are available to purchase in your local art shops.

We then move on to a dedicated chapter on basic drawing skills in graphite pencil. This ensures that students understand the fundamentals of drawing before delving into the more complicated subjects of drawing and painting animals and pets. This is really important and crucial for students to take their time over this chapter.  It will help when working on the more tricky subjects of drawing and painting animals.

An introduction is then given to each medium and we illustrate various techniques, plus an example of a pet drawn or painted in that medium. We then deal with animals in detail, looking at specific areas such as eyes, nose, tongues, collars and reins, in a variety of media. We also deal with problematic subjects like black or white dogs, dealing with long and short fur and direction of fur.

This leads to pet portraits composition - adding two or more animals into a painting and creating backgrounds and landscapes behind your pets. This sections also deals with how the use of a computer can help you in the layout and design of your work.The course then provides an in-depth look at how to portray various breeds of dogs, cats and horses in a variety of mediums.

The final section of the pet portraits course focuses on starting up your own pet portraits business, how to sell your work, accepting commissions and how to make your own website, just to name a few. There are many practice exercises throughout the course which we trust you will complete. Once you have worked through each section and are familiar with all of the aspects of learning to portray animals and have completed the practice exercises, the final section gives you a set of four exercises to complete and send to your course artist.

The pet portraits course is suitable for those who have had some experience in drawing, although does gives a grounding in drawing at the start of the course, which is essential. For those of you who are more experienced and work through the drawing part at a faster pace, there are some harder more challenging exercises to work though.

Student Artwork by Alison Croft

Student Artwork by Alison Croft

Course Prices

Please visit our 'Prices and Buy Now' page to view the course prices and to purchase your course. UK residents can purchase courses on this page via instalments, please scroll down to the relevant section to pay a deposit.


Critiques online or via Regular Mail

Students are able to upload their artwork to the 'The Art Room' on our website. Each student is given a unique username and password on enrolment for their own private section in The Art Room. Students can upload their artwork for the tutor to collect and critique. The tutor will then upload feedback for the student to download. If you do not have facilities to upload your artwork, you can mail your artwork to the tutors centre and receive your artwork back with your critique. It is essential you label all packages/artwork with your student number.

Student Artwork by Sandra Eve

Student Artwork by Sandra Eve

Tutor Support

All our courses are written to be complete in themselves. However we realise that students may appreciate being able to get clarification about various things as they work through their programme as well wanting reassurance that they are putting techniques into practice effectively. The tutors provide the technical support to deal with relevant queries.

Most courses have their own dedicated Tutor. The tutor keeps the course up to date and relevant to today's students. They are available to the individual student for advice and encouragement. Each course has regular exercises and assignments that are constructed in such a way as to give the student the opportunity to practice the techniques learnt on the course and to test themselves as they go along. The student is encouraged to submit the assignment work to the college for the tutor to critique. The student's work will be returned together with the tutor's personal critique. On many courses the assignment work may be suitable for inclusion in a student's Portfolio of Work that could be very useful later. The college will use the assignments submitted as the basis for any award of a letter, certificate or diploma.

Student Artwork by Marion Dutton

Student Artwork (details) by Marion Dutton

Duration and Experience

The expected duration of this course is approximately 1 year although the college allows students up to two years to complete their studies. This course is suitable for students with previous experience in drawing and painting.

Course Content

The following is an overview of some of the areas that are covered in the course.

Media: Equipment

Subject: Areas covered

Techniques: Skills developed

Graphite Pencil
Coloured Pencil

Drawing skills
Animals in Detail
Fur, Eyes, Noses
Black subjects
White Subjects
Other objects
Creating a composition
Two or more dogs
Step by steps
Promoting your work

Creative Colour Wheel
Coloured Pencil

Materials list

The college does not provide materials with its courses as most students can obtain what they will need locally at lower cost.

Pencils and Paper

For the first section of the course you will need some good quality drawing paper and a range of graphite pencils. I would suggest to to use a 2b, 6b and 8b on some good quality cartridge paper.

Coloured Pencils

Coloured pencils can either be bought singularly, or in sets. There are many brands of coloured pencils to choose from. Some are more soft and waxy than others. The course gives a brief introduction to the main brands available which will help you in your decision. Use a smooth paper for the coloured pencils, try hot pressed watercolour paper, nothing too shiny.


Pastels can be purchased in sets and in colour ranges. If you are going to be drawing pets, we would recommend the brown tonal range. Art shops have many varieties of pastel papers and all are suitable for using with pastels.

Acrylic Paints

Purchase tubes separately with the basic colour range. Yopu can paint acrylics on any surface from cardboard to newspaper and we provide information about paper in the course.

Oil Paints

We suggest using the basic simple range of 8 colours, you should be able to get all the colours you need from this range. We recommend using waterbased oils for the course, and information about the brands and canvas are in the course itself. Purchase tubes individually and the colours we recommend are -

  • Black
  • White
  • Naples Yellow
  • Indian Red
  • Burnt Umber
  • French Ultra Marine
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Crimson


Brushes are a little more difficult to recommend as all brands use different sizes. Test a vareity of brands to see which you prefer, the course will give information on brush types.

Samples pages from this course

Click the download icon below to view a pdf sample course page which will open in a new tab. Alternatively right click and save the file. Please be patient for it to load.


Sample Images from the course

Below are a few images from the course itself. The course was initially written and illustrated by professional pet portraits artist Melanie Phillips.

Course ArtworkCourse ArtworkCourse Artwork

Testimonials from Students

Thank you for your feedback...I enjoyed making preparation sketches and am now drawing most days. I have learnt a lot during the course, but feel as though this is just the beginning, in fact next week I am going with a group of artists to sketch birds, owls, eagles and vultures, should be fun. I have also been doing a lot of practice drawing, using photos of animals like elephants, zebras etc and am doing a monkey at the moment, I find I am using coloured pencils quite a lot too which is helping my drawing skills to improve, which is good as I could hardly draw at all at the beginning of the course. Thank you so much for all your kindness and advise, it has been a pleasure to have you as my tutor and I feel that I have made a real achievement. I will continue to make art a huge and very important part of my life. Best wishes, take care.

Glenis G

Just to thank you for the most comprehensive and helpful assessment I have ever received. Really inspiring. Now down to a lot of work, but easier now that you have given me directions to develop. As you've probably realised my computer skills are minimal, but I hope to improve them too by the time of my next assessment. Thank you so much, Best wishes.


Thanks so much. I am grateful for your considered and indepth approach to critiques. I learn a lot from these and am looking forward to the next part of the course. I really appreciate your commitment to your students.


Thank you so much for your fantastic feedback and guidance. I am in the process of designing my website, it'll probably take a week or two, but I am very interested in the business side of the course that is coming up. Thanks again. Warm regards.


Hi, thanks for all your comments, critiques and encouragement. The whole course was really helpfull, I've learned a lot in the last 2 years. I've read your advice about the flyers and you're right, I'll refresh them a few times a year to show the latest work. Thanks again.


Hi, thank you for my feedback. you did not tell me to give up now so that was a relief!!! ..... Your talking feedback was a really nice way to receive it. Thanks again.


Well this is it, thats the lot, thank you so much for all your support I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and definitely feel that I have improved. I will miss the excitement of waiting for my critique but feel ready to get out there and do my own thing. I look forward to hearing from you and take care.


Hey folks, just wanted to share my good news, I have just finished the pets portrait course and I am delighted that I have gained a diploma with distinction!!!! I just wanted to encourage anyone out there who's thinking of doing the course that it's well worth your while, I have improved a great deal and the support and encouragement has given my confidence a much needed boost.


Finally, I've loved this course and have recommended it to a number of friends. I'm receiving commissions for my work which is something I never thought would be possible. Can’t believe my 2 years has come to an end but I really can’t thank you enough. Kind regards.


I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for all your critique and help, i feel that i have come on a long way since the start of the course. Regards.


Thanks for being a great tutor and for teaching this course. I have learned a lot and it's really made me think about things like composition, harmony, form and lights and darks. I have also been able to experiment with other mediums, which I probably wouldn't have on my own. My drawing skills have definately improved since the start of the course. The first critique you gave me was about shading in the right direction under the chin of the dog to push it back. Since then I always try to think in my mind what the animals form is like and how the hair would fall around it. Anyway, just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed the course. I have done a few commissions for family and have sold some paintings in a shop in my town. I'm thinking about advertising for commissions, but just head studies to begin with. I need to build up more skills and confidence before offering anything else. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing my final critique.


I would like to add my own testimonial to the course that I have just finished and to say how much I enjoyed it. my tutor is is a very good and approachable tutor who always responded to my questions almost immediately. She offers lots of guidance and advice and takes time in doing so. She has given me the confidence to move forward with pet portraiture and if I ever achieve a fraction of her own abilities I would be thrilled! The cartoon course I have just started is a different challenge altogether! Best wishes.

Sylvia Mann

I was not really sure how things would go in my Pet Portraits Course and waited with trepidation after sending in my first assignment. I was so thrilled with the feedback, which was eloquent, precise and ecouraging, spotting snags I had overlooked. It was a great motivation to move on to the next section. Just wanted to say thank you and encourage anyone out there to send your work in. You will learn so much. Hopefully, I will be able to post some work in progress soon.


Thank you for your critique today, I am really pleased with your comments they are going to be very helpful in the coming exercises. I can see exactly what you mean in relation to the eyes and eyebrow on the close-up and will keep this in mind. Thank you again. Regards.


I just wanted to email to say thank you for your advice on the work for my assessment. All of your advice was really helpful and the video was useful to see where I can make improvements. Emma Hollands I just want to say thanks for the safe return of my pictures and also the assessment report CD. My husband said i was like a child on christmas morning when i was opening the parcel to retrieve the CD. Your comments about my work are so encouraging, i can't wait to get started on my next exercise. Thanks again. Best wishes Teresa.


Thank you for your comments on my drawings,from exercise 1. I knew there was something wrong with the breakfast things, as soon as i read your comments i could see what you meant. Isn't it strange how you can look at something so long you just don't see it! Again the uphill water in the jar i didn't see that either. It was interesting to hear your comments about the pepper as i thought i may have gone too dark. Thanks once again for all your comments – very useful.

Thank you for your previous letter. Your advice made sense upon re-examining the pictures and i have taken on board what you have said and tried to apply them to my newly done pictures.....I am enjoying the course, your comments and advice are greatly appreciated, thank you.

I was so glad when i found out about your pet portrait course, as it is exactly what i was looking for, I didn't believe i would find a distance learning course in it!

I owe you a big thank you for putting my pictures on the London Art College website. I cant believe how many friends have passed the message on to others. I have even got some work out of it!! I am now going to try building a simple website. Your tips in the course folder are very helpful to get me started as its totally new territory for me. Thank you again for all your help so far. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks for taking time to draw on my drawings in the pc......VERY HELPFUL!!! I have gone back and worked on them again some and it was extremely helpful that you not only wrote some suggestions, but the visual was a definite plus!!!!!

Thank you so much for the advice you offered following exercise 4. I am grateful for the time you took working on the painting of the puppies and the Westie drawing in Photoshop. Your observations and attached images were extremely useful.

I have thoroughly enjoyed completing this course and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and guidance throughout this course, which has been invaluable to me. I feel my confidence has grown enormously over the last year. I had become stuck in a bit of a rut using only Gouache and the course presented the challenge of painting and drawing on a far larger scale than i would have ever contemplated in the passed, using mediums that i would never have previously considered. For that i am very grateful. My confidence is such now that i intend to set up a website and for the first time in my life i am actively showing my work to colleagues and strangers! I am also having some publicity material produced offering a commission service. Thank you once again.

Your course has been excellent and given me invaluable help, particularly in the need for discipline in my own work. I thank you again for your most useful and helpful letters.

Purchase Your Pet Portraits Online Art Course

If you would like to purchase your Pet Portraits Online Art Course, you can buy it online and get started today!

Purchase Your Pet Portraits Online Art Course