The soft white fur and huge blue eyes of Archie the cat here were a pleasure to paint. Watercolour is great for painting cat's eyes and the eyes are often the starting point for most of my portraits. Getting the reflection and depth in the eyes bring the portrait to life.
A Quarter Horse pencil drawing I completed a couple of years back. The Quarter Horse is popular in America and gets its name from its ability to outrun other horse breeds over short distance and especially in races of under a quarter of a mile; hence the name Quarter Horse!
Start by sketching out the form
I start by sketching out the basic form and proportions of the portrait using a light pencil line which can be easily erased or corrected if necessary. A B-Grade pencil is a good choice because it is soft enough a leave mark on the paper but not over-dominant. A harder pencil, 2H for example, could leave a depression in the paper surface making it difficult later to correct any mistakes. A life-like portrait requires that key proportions are correct in order to look realistic, so take time at this early stage to get the structure correct.