Ruin the Beagle

Not an instruction but the name of a lovely beagle. As a beagle owner in the modern day, what else can you do but join beagle groups on Facebook? These are places where other beagle owners post adorable and funny shots of their canines and on one of these groups I saw a lovely photo of Ruin the Beagle and her tennis ball. I emailed Ruin’s owner and asked if I could use the photo as reference for a coloured pencil drawing. So a huge thank you to Sue and Ruin for granting me permission.

So new easel ready. A4 Daler Rowney Murano paper in deep olive ready. Faber-Castell Polychromos ready. And we begin.

IMG_8170Part of the reason I liked the photo was that Ruin is much lighter than any beagles I have drawn previously and I wanted to try the lighter fur.

I began with the nose. I usually do because it’s a good point where everything comes from. It also is a lot of the dog’s personality. If you get it right, then the rest of the dog should follow well.

IMG_8175For the fur I begin with a very light sand all over, drawing in the direction the fur goes and in short lines. Then I use white to highlight the lighter areas and darker sand or orangey-brown to mark the darker areas. I repeat the process adding darker brown and sometimes black for the very dark shadows.


Ruin’s eyes will be done last – screw them up and the whole piece can be ruined. The life of the animal is in those eyes. And these ones are going to be hard as they are in dark shadow. But here, you can see that she is coming to life without the eyes.


The paw is done in much the same way as the rest of the fur but the strokes are shorter, blunter. The nails are kept long, smooth and polished.

The tennis ball was tricky. The ball was much messed with by Ruin and was dirty at the bottom – almost stained dark green by grass. I was very rough and loose laying down pencil with some long, squiggly orange strokes put down heavily. Dark greens and browns used in the same way to create the dirt and shadow on the bottom.

IMG_8182In the reference photo, Ruin is lying on grey carpet – my guess is at the top of the stairs. I changed this to grass, breathing the outdoors into the picture, especially with the tennis ball. I just stroked in various greens, ochres and dark brown for the immediate shadows. I think the greens really lift the picture.


At this point I am stalled. I have started the white middle fur and it’s going well but the background is distracting me. There is 3 small triangles of background peeping through: above the paw, above the right ear, and a teeny, tiny bit above the left ear. I can’t decide if I should leave it the support paper colour or draw in blue sky. With all the sandy fur and orange ball, blue will hugely complement it. But then Ruin looks great against the olive paper. She really stands out. Hmmmm. Lemme think.

And while I am thinking, look at this lovely mug:


Mr. S. thinks I am going quite mad.





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