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 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 ..

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