The creative process – What’s unique about my pet portraits?

In this short excerpt of an Instagram ‘Live’, with social media expert @sociallysophieb, we discuss my creative process and what makes my drawings unique.

image of Anthea creating a drawing
Anthea in conversation with Sophie Bradley

We talk about how I start by having a conversation with the pet owner. How I get to know the animal and discuss the quirky little details of the pet. Together, we then decide on a suitable high resolution photograph of the animal.

From there I think about the right choice of the paper and pencils that will enhance the piece.

I then play with the base colour of the paper; I experiment with the type of pencils that will accentuate the details of the drawing.

Having worked on some initial sketches from the original photograph; the next part of the creative process is to produce a free flowing sketch of the animal that brings out their character.

Click here to watch a longer version of the interview.

For examples of my work head over to the gallery

3 more top tips for taking photos of your pets

Taking great photos of your pet takes practice and patients. Following the previous top tips post, here’s a few more suggestions for getting the best Insta worthy images that will also translate into beautiful colour drawings.

brown dog lying down
Photo by RODNAE Productions on
  1. Bring out their character A successful picture of your pet brings out their characteristics. For example, if you have a lively cat show them playing with a feather or string (see my blog on hand free photography with an iPhone). Brainstorm a few ideas before you start and try to communicate this in the photograph.
studio shot of a puppy
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

2 Get up close A great way to capture the details in your pet’s face, which will also make for a beautiful pencil portrait is to use a macro lens, or some type of close-focusing camera. Fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur and keep the focus sharp.

close up photography of white and black cat
Photo by Pixabay on

3. Surprise, surprise! Use the element of surprise to get your pet in to the perfect position to take their picture. This needs some luck and judgement but if your pet is energetic allow them to play for a few minutes whilst you set up the camera and tripod. Then when you are ready distract them with a whistle or some food and with luck you will capture their surprised and alert features.

close up photo of black and whitd dog
Photo by Orlando Allo on

3 Top Tips For Taking Photos Of Your Pets

white and grey kitten on brown and black leopard print textile
Photo by Pixabay on

Looking to capture beautiful images of your pets? Whilst your pet might be incredibly cute it’s not necessarily going to pose for you in front of the camera but here are my three top tips to capture Insta worthy, scroll-stopping images in minutes.

1. Use natural daylight

medium coated tan dog running on green plants photography
Photo by Caique Silva on

There are two important reasons. Firstly, flash can cause the red-eye effect in your pet’s eyes, and secondly, any sudden flash is very likely to scare the animal and make them less inclined to be photographed.

However, if you can get outside pick a day with some cloud cover for a softer diffused light or set up the picture in a well-lit room with a large window.

2. Focus on the eyes

closeup photo of brown and black dog face
Photo by Lum3n on

Keep a sharp focus on your pet’s eyes as these can be very expressive and really bring out the character of the animal. If you’re working with a shallow depth of field and can only get one eye in focus, make sure it’s the one closer to the camera!

3. Calm your pet and go to them

woman girl animal dog
Photo by cottonbro on

Your pet needs to feel completely at ease and comfortable so pick your moment to take the pictures. Go to them, get down to their level by sitting on the floor and remember to shoot from their eye level or below. That way you will get a pet’s eye view of the world.

3 Top iPhone Tips to beautiful hands-free photos of you and your pet

Do you struggle to get a good picture of you and your pet with your iPhone or wish you had another pair of hands with trying to photograph your pet?

Did you know there are some really clever ways you can easily take hands-free photographs on your iPhone?

Once you have mastered any of these clever hacks you’ll be all set up to capture fast and informal photos of you and your pet that can then be printed and transformed into a beautiful colour pencil pet portrait.

Here are my three top tips to keep it simple.

  1. Ask Siri to take your photo for you, that one is completely hands-free!

You don’t always have to tap on the shutter button to take a photo on an iPhone, you can instead just ask Siri to take the photo for you.

All you need to do is tweak your Voice Command Settings. Here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Settings.
  • Scroll down to Accessibility and tap it.
  • Tap Voice Control.
  • Toggle ‘on’ the Voice Control button.
  • At the top of the screen, right beside your clock, you will see a blue mic button. That means Siri can now listen to your voice commands. Even if your iPhone is asleep, it will wake up once you say “Hi, Siri.”
  • To take a photo, call Siri by saying “Hi, Siri,” or simply tap on the camera app.
  • Next, Siri will ask how she can help you. Tell her, “Take a photo”.
  • Siri will open the front camera.
  • To capture the photo, say, “Turn down volume.”
  • This will capture the photo and save it in your gallery

2. Use Voice Control to take the photo.

If you don’t want to use Siri you can just simply use the Voice Control option in iOS 11 Pro and this will allow you to take a photo, as well as a few more hand-free photo tasks.

  • Go to Settings.
  • Scroll down to Accessibility and tap it.
  • Tap Voice Control.
  • Toggle ‘On’ the Voice Control button and command your iPhone to take the photo by saying “Turn down volume” or ask it to do any of the following:
  • “Show grid.”
  • “Zoom in.”
  • “Zoom out.”
  • “Take a screenshot.”

3. Use the iPhone camera’s timer to take hands-free photos with a tripod and a timer.

  • To hold the camera still you will find it easier to use a tripod. There are plenty of iPhone tripods available but here are a few tips to choose the right one.
    • Tripod and selfie stick in one – consider choosing a tripod and a selfie stick in one. This will offer more versatility when you want to vary the angles of the images.
    • Gorilla tripod – A gorilla tripod is a great option to grip on to multiple surfaces or fixtures as the legs will wrap around rails and pipes.
    • Remote shutter button – thirdly, find a tripod that comes with a remote shutter button. It’s a great alternative to your iPhone camera’s timer or voice control.

To take the photograph set up your tripod in a sturdy position with enough space behind the tripod to see the rear of the phone, should you need to check the photo from time to time. If you’re using a gorilla tripod and can’t see any desk or table for support, you can wrap its moveable legs around anything sturdy. 

  • Now, secure your iPhone into the adapter.
  • Tilt it into the position to take the picture of you and your pet.
  • Open your camera. 
  • Switch to the front camera. 
  • On the iPhone 11 Pro or a later model, tap the arrow at the top of your screen to access the self-timer. You can also access it by swiping up the area above the shutter button. 
  • Choose your preferred duration. Either 3 seconds or 10 seconds. Press the shutter and move to your desired pose with the animal.
  • Watch the seconds countdown in the bottom right of the screen. 10 second option will give you more time to prepare you and your pet.