Behind The Scene: Amazing Dog Portrait Illustrations for Sports brand

Anas Riasat

Lead Artist

Saad Irfan

Supporting Artist


Being from a tech background, the projects I usually manage are dry, boring and full of numbers. Working on digital art projects; however, is juicy, exciting and full of beautiful graphics, especially when the lead artist is Anas Riasat. One such experience recently was with Sleefs – a sports apparel brand in the USA selling high-quality and super cool sleeves, headbands, socks etc. They asked our art team to make some happy face dog illustrations for their collection, and the instructions were pretty brief & straight forward,

“Popular dog breeds, happy face dogs, front face view, partial neck showing, the tongue should not be hanging out too much, must look cool, not evil or mean or dumb, don’t mirror image”

Planning & Execution:

The first thing we did was finalize the art style required for the portraits, so an accurate time and effort estimate can be provided to the Sleeves team. Here are the art style references proposed to the client, out of which #2 was the favorite.

We then performed some research to list down popular dog breeds based on online trends, dog shows, most sold pets etc. The list also included a reference image for each dog based on our team’s understanding of the requirements. Here is an example of an approved reference batch.

Anas has a very efficient digital painting process which makes it super easy for late revisions. The artwork files are structured in 6 main layers inline with the painting process:

  1. Concept Sketches
  2. Final Sketch
  3. Greyscale Shading
  4. Basic Color Shading
  5. Final Illustration

For most projects, we would send a sketch for approval; however, in this case we had an accurate reference (for poses, camera angle etc), so there was nothing to verify in the sketch phase. It made more sense to send the illustration for approval once the basic color shading was complete.

We worked in batches of 5 portraits at a time, so while the colored versions were in revision, Anas and the team would start on the next batch of 5. Upon receiving approval on the basic colored version, Anas would work his final magic on the illustration.


Within 3 weeks, Daniel was super happy because he had more happy dog paintings for his store than he could wish for. Here are some of the final paintings,

“In my country we say. ‘Vos sos el mejor’ lol. You are the best”

– Daniel G, Sleefs

I learnt so much about dogs during this project, which made me stop to think how much research concept artists must do in order to make such gorgeous paintings – hats-off to Anas Riasat and the supporting artists. This was definitely one of the most memorable projects we have worked on, thanks to the brilliant ideas from the nice people at Sleefs. Have a look at the final product.

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