I will always start with a main photo, and customize from there. When more than two pets are involved I can combine photos. When there's a custom background involved, you can either submit a photo if you have something specific in mind, or simply talk to me about your ideas and I will produce a mockup rendering for you to approve before the painting process begins.
There are several steps to my process: the initial sketch done in pencil, the first layers of paint, which give me an initial framework and generally ends up looking like a 2D rendering of the painting, and every other layer of paint after that, where shadows, highlights, and details come in to form the final 3D piece.
Below are pictures of paintings I've done along with progress pics showing the different sages in my process. I always provide progress photos along the way because I think it's fun for people to see what a painting starts out as, and how it progresses to its final stages! This way you get to feel like you're a part of the process!
Click on images below for a larger view
These owners love to take their dog by the lake:
This is my dog! First portrait I ever did!