Elephant Drawning

Drawing an Elephant – It’s going to take how long ?!

I was so pleased with my Cheetah drawing, I went straight into the next one without thinking too much. I had gotten into a groove doing fur textures with lots of small brush strokes in the same direction. It was all about following the flow of the body. As soon as I started this elephant drawing I knew I had taken on an entirely different beast and there was no going back!

Based off another excellent photo by Mike Haworth from howieswildlifeimages.com I could see so much opportunity in the texture and lighting that I wanted to express.

I used the picture as a base layer in Photoshop, so I could check my initial sketch wasn’t too off. Personally, I don’t like to trace directly over a picture and I feel it loses some of it’s spirit in translation when I do. In this case, I had it as a back up for when I got lost in marker placement and proportions and used it as a guide to get back on track.

I continued to number my sketches ### of 366 as a reminder that I was planning to sketch every day. The initial sketch above was 030 of 366. Starting with the eyes (well, one eye) the initial progress was fine and I developed a criss-cross technique for filling in detail on the trunk ..

I soon realised while filling in that dark area under the eye that when it came to the ears, I would need to try something different. A simple pencil brush was not going to get the detail and texture I wanted without getting too scratchy. I had been collecting ImagineFX magazine for a while and have accumulated quite a range of Photoshop brushes over time. One particular set from artist Saejin Oh – https://saejinoh.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/jinbrush-2014.html is really nice and has a good range of different textures I wanted to play with.

After a bit of freestyle experimentation, I was able to block out the ears very quickly by comparison with the other details ..

We are now at 40 of 366 by the way. The rest was a continuation of my pencil technique, noodling details while getting a feel for the wrinkles, textures and lighting as I drew. Another 18 sessions later and I had finally completed 058 of 366 …

I’m really happy with how he turned out, especially once I balanced some lighting and contrast at the end. I’m planning on doing the same as I did with the Cheetah and mount a print of him onto wood.

The sad part is that even though it is 50/366, I never did any more drawings for 2016. Various aspects of life/work and a change of home meant drawing took more of a back seat for the rest of the year (by back seat I mean forgotten). Will I draw again in 2017? Almost certainly! Mixed in with photogrammetry and whatever other projects I have time for. Until then, here is a timelapse of the entire 12 hours condensed into 12 minutes!


Cheetah Sketch

Cheetah Drawing Framed on Canvas

Last year, I decided up up my game with digital sketching and spend more time on a single picture ramping up the detail as much as my tablet would handle.

I found some beautiful African animal photos on Mike Haworth’s site – https://howieswildlifeimages.com/ and asked his permission to use his photos which he kindly agreed to.

It’s rare for photographers to make such high resolution images available on the net, so this picture could be cropped to a closer framing while still keeping enough detail to use as reference.

Once cropped to a framing I liked, I did a quick sketch to get proportions correct and a basic layout of features..

Cheetah rough sketch

I can then use this as my base layer in Photoshop and start noodling the detail. This step takes the longest! Starting with the eyes and using the photo side by side as reference, I worked my way around following the flow of fur and adding details over several sessions on my commute to work.

Cheetah sketch WIP

The main brush I use is a 4 pixel pencil brush and hundreds and thousands of little strokes later I get this …

Cheetah Sketch

All in all, it took about 20 sessions and 9 hours to get to this point. The final image is 3508 pixels by 4961 pixels which is A3 size at 300 dpi

I did a timelapse video of the entire process which you can see here …

However, this is not the end of this particular journey. I wanted an actual print so I sent off my digital sketch to be printed on 12″ x 16″ canvas. I was very pleased with the result from http://www.justrolledprints.co.uk , they provide an excellent and reasonable service – highly recommended.

The next stage was to construct a frame.. I put together several pieces of wood salvaged from the beach, cut to size and sanded down the face, filled the gaps and varnished it..

Wooden Picture Frame

The final touch was to stipple oil paint around the sketch directly on the canvas to match the tone of the varnish and glue the final piece onto the front. Here is the final result …

Cheetah Drawing Framed on Canvas

and here is mounted on my wall at home ..

I plan on doing many more of these kind of pictures, perhaps into a series of African wildlife.

Giraffe sketch live

Giraffe sketch

I had the good fortune to pay a visit to Marwell Zoo. Naturally, I took along my trusty Wacom Companion for a spot of live sketching. My chosen subject for the day was the Graffes. They have a fantastic enclosure at Marwell with lots of space and a warm shelter. Luckily, they were all inside feeding at the time.

I approached the edge and got into position. No sooner had I got there, one giraffe came right over to me and leaned over the fence right up to my face! I stroked her nose and she licked my hand, nearly getting my Wacom pen with her prehensile tongue!

With formal introductions made, I started to sketch for 45 minutes. I did not focus on one particular giraffe, but rather took in all their general details as they moved around. Sketching live animals is much harder than using photos. You have to constantly observe and work fast, going back to areas once the opportunity arises.

Here is the result …

Giraffe sketch
Live drawing of the giraffes at Marwell Zoo

I also put together a video timelapse of the entire process, so you can see how I worked into the details after a loose initial sketch…

Pet Portraits

Pet Portrait of Bessie the Dog

I’ve been refining my sketching process and this is the latest result .. a pencil sketch of my beloved pet dog, Bessie ..

Pet Portrait of Bessie the Dog

I am available for commissions if you would like a sketch of your pet as a portrait either in digital format or printed and framed. Please get in touch via email (stu@hogton.com) to discuss your requirements and prices.

Many thanks,


Giraffe Sketch Timelapse


Back in the game for #dailysketch as I’ve been a bit sporadic these past 3 weeks due to lots of stuff going on and burning the candle at both ends. Typically I’ve been falling asleep on the train rather than sketching.

Today, I completed my Giraffe sketch ..

Giraffe Sketch

.. and if course a Timelapse on YouTube ..

60 Days of Sketching

Sketch every day for a month

60 Days ago I made a commitment to sketch every day. I set very loose targets, I didn’t tell myself how long for or what subject, I just had to make sure I sketched something. This was made easier because I had just got hold of a Wacom Companion 2 and like anyone with a new toy, I was itching to try it out.

This was day 1 ..

Viking concept sketch
Day 1 of #dailysketch

.. and this is day 60 ..

Amur Tiger
Amur Tiger

I think the results speak for themselves! I quickly realised I had forgotten how much I loved drawing animals and that set the theme for most of my drawings. Most were started and finished in one session, usually on the train on my way to work. Some I spent a bit more time on, the Tiger being the longest as it took 10 days of sketching to finish it.

Here is a YouTube video of all the sketches one after another ..

That represents about 40 hours of my time spread over 60 days. Doesn’t sound much does it? Anyone can do it and I bet you’ll see results after 30 days, let alone 60. Those 40 hours could’ve easily been spent playing Skyrim or Civilization or watching films. I made a concious choice to make sure nothing like that was on the Wacom Companion to distract me. I am a terrible procrastinator. I have been avoiding doing this for 15 years! Living in fear of my own art. It is liberating to finally be creating rather than consuming. I suggest you all try it for 60 days.

Amur Tiger Timelapse Sketch

Amur Tiger over 10 days

I love drawing big cats, and to celebrate sketching every day for 60 days, I spent the last 10 days working on this Amur Tiger from a picture I took at Marwell Zoo back in 2006.

Amur Tiger over 10 days
10 Days of Tiger Sketching

.. and the final result ..

Amur Tiger
Amur Tiger

I also recorded a timelapse of the entire sketching process which you can see on YouTube …

Champan’s Zebra Foal

Plains Zebra Foal

This little foal is a sub-species of the Plains Zebra. Notice the faded stripes between the black ones and the stripes going down the leg. Based on photo reference taken at Marwell Zoo and sketched over 2 days using Photoshop on a Wacom Companion 2.

Plains Zebra Foal
Chapman’s Zebra Foal

African Wild Dog – Final Sketch and Timelapse

african wild dog

Here is the finished African Wild Dog sketch… I had a small issue in one of the sessions today accidentally loading a low resolution version of the file. It was easy enough to copy that section back into the main PSD once I spotted my error. You can see me fixing it in the time-lapse.

african wild dog
African Wild Dog