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!

 

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…

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