Pencils: I use Faber Castell Polychromos pencils. When I first started pet portraits, I was using watercolour pencils, but this is mostly because that's all I happened to have at the time. I've since progressed to the Polychromos and I really love them. They have a high pigmentation and a wonderful range of shades to choose from which really helps me build up base layers to make fur look really rich, particularly black fur which, believe it or not, is far from black!
I would like to try out some other types of pencils in the near future, such as Prismacolour, so that I can make some comparisons and maybe discover something that works even better for me!
Finish: On the subject of highlights, the final material I use is Daler Rowney FW Acrylic Ink in white. I use this to sharpen and brighten the important highlights where the white pencil isn't quite enough, for instance, for the shine in the eyes or for whiskers. I am very sparing with the use of acrylic ink but it does help to finish the piece off and give it that final burst of life.
Digital: For the actual piece of art work, I do not use any digital tools; it is all done by my hands using the materials I've discussed in this post. However, I use Photoshop to create the mock-up that I will work from for the piece, which allows me to try out different compositions and see how they work before physically drawing them out. I also use guidelines on PS, much like the "squaring up" grid technique, to draw the outline so that I get the important features in the right place and in proportion. Finally, I use a Canon scanner or my Epson A3 printer/scanner to scan in the finished portrait ready to share with you!
And that's it! Nothing special really, just good, old-fashioned pencil and paper. If you have any other burning questions about my process, I would be happy to answer them so feel free to leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.