A Commissioned Miniature Painting,
Prince on a Pinnacle, red fox.

Beginning with the commissioner's photographs, this demonstration shows the creation of a commissioned work from beginning to end. Each phase, or step is accompanied by a brief description of the process.

Chroma Colour acrylic paint is my chosen medium, and brushes range from #1 down to #0000. Most miniaturists use some sort of magnifier for the minute detail desired in miniature art. Reading glasses and a simple hand held magnifying glass work best for me.

The painting images have been enlarged to show the details of the progressive steps.

Creating Prince on a Pinnacle:


For this commission photographs were supplied by my client. Other pictures were also provided, but this was the commissioner's desired pose for the fox.

My client took these photos in New Hampshire at the base of Mount Washington, where I have been many times. My memory of this area served greatly in the development of this painting.

Using my computer and my client's photograph I created several concepts for presentation: vertical, horizontal and square. Note how I used my artistic license by adding sun rays and a softened background. I also created a path of light on the moss. These changes now lead you directly to the subject. I also darkened the fox's coat and intensified the color. I didn't however take the time to remove every little distracting speckle on the boulder. Without question, this vertical format was the most appealing to my client.
With my work station set up, I was ready to begin.


I first transferred my original pencil drawing to the illustration board and then chose to paint background to foreground.

I worked on the background almost to finish and intensified the sun's rays (stronger than the original layout) to better show the damp atmospheric conditions of the surrounding forest before beginning the fox.

After more or less completing the fox, I moved on to the moss laden boulder and began to loosely block in color, as well as positive and negative shapes. For this stage my Chroma Colour acrylic paint was thinned to a translucent wash so that I could build my colors and textures slowly and delicately.
Once the first wash (layer) was completed, I continued with a second, third and even a forth layer of paint to build up the shadow areas and basic textures. These layers are applied very loosely and without detail, but are completely controlled. In addition to general brushwork, some textures are actually created by the absorption of paint into the illustration board.
Once my underlying values (halftones) were established, I began to add details to the rock and moss. In the sunlit areas I delicately worked dark over light with warm colors in thin washes. And light over dark in the shadows using cooler color mixes of opaque paint. I continued this process until the moss and rock were more or less complete.
To finalize the painting I examined every nook and cranny, focusing on weak or problem areas, or anything else that disturbed me. After all issues were addressed from top to bottom, I added the fox's shadow and pumped up the highlights on the body as well as doing some additional tweaking. When I couldn't find anything more to fuss with I knew I was done.
Prince on a Pinnacle -- (Enlarged)
Red Fox
Acrylic Traditional Miniature Commission
Size: 5 1/2 x 1 7/8"
(The penny is only to show scale.)


I hope you enjoyed this demo! To see additional demonstrations, go to "Miniature Paintings Gallery, Available Miniatures" and look for the "Miniature in the Making, Click Here" feature located at the top of my pages.