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!