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…

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 ..

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


Baby Tapir

Baby Tapir Sketch

As part of my PURCHASING commitment to sketch every day, I have spent the last 3 days working on this baby tapir…

Baby Tapir Sketch

The first day went quickly enough with rough sketch 1 and then detail on the head.

The second day was much much slower Your to progress. I had decided to up the resolution to A3 rather than my usual A4 300dpi. The Wacom Companion struggled a bit cheap nfl jerseys at times and my usual technique of using a small pencil was taking time.

Today, I switched back to A4 and made use cheap NFL jerseys of some great fur brushes from Saejin Oh that came on an old issue of ImagineFX magazine. Progress was much quicker and I made use of a few layers to block out shading and highlights. I am happy how he wholesale MLB jerseys turned out, but you can tell the body cheap jerseys was rushed more than the head.



Wacom Companion 2 Review – Part 1

Wacom Companion review

Over the past month I have had the pleasure of using a Wacom Companion 2 Premium (i7 2.8Ghz with 8gb RAM) and it has totally transformed my ability to be creative on the move.

This review is aimed at artists interested FC in purchasing a Wacom Companion and will go through all the pros and cons as I see them based on real world production tests. I will go through my main applications of choice – Maya, Zbrush, Photoshop and Manga Studio 4.

The Hardware

The Wacom Companion 2 is a fully functioning Windows 8 PC with touch and pressure sensitive pen enabled screen. It’s larger and heavier than an Ipad or Surface Pro, but with that comes good sized real estate on your 13.1 inch screen at a resolution on 2566 x 1440. The battery is good for According about 3 hours under medium load. Remember this is not a workstation, but with realistic expectations you can get a lot out of it.

The screen is the key companent here. It doesn’t have a full colour gamut, so I wouldn’t expect to use it for grading, but it is decent enough for most uses. The pressure sensitivity has 2048 levels, which is more than enough for even the most subtle of strokes. If you look closely, there is a slight grain to the screen, this is the screen protection. I have read reports of some people removing it and replacing with something else, but I don’t find the grain noticable. Multi touch detection and palm rejection work well enough, you have to semi train your brain that lifting the pen too far with your palm still resting will kick in your big fat palm and messing with your navigation in Photoshop. Think of it as leading in pen first and pen last and you will quickly get used to it. With the PPI being quite high, I find it best to scale the Windows UI to 200% which is the default setting. Photoshop has it’s own scaling and there is a trick to getting Maya to scale font size (see individual sofware sections for details). Brightness wise, the screen does a pretty good job in most indoor situations with very little glare, just don’t expect to be able to use it in full-sunshine, that would be crazy.

Alongside the screen are the express keys and rocker ring. These are what sets the companion apart from the likes of a Surface Pro. They are totally configurable and can be customized per application. Without a keyboard these are vital in streamlining productivity. I will go into more detail as to how I cheap jerseys have mine set up so far at another time. I would reccommend attaching a keyboard at first when using it then every time you find yourself reaching for a key in your application of choice, set an express wholesale nfl jerseys key or radial menu to the shortcut instead. Before USA long you can ditch the keyboard and operate entirely by the side buttons and on screen keyboard. Handy hint – in some programs like Maya, you find yourself needing more keys than the basic Wacom on screen keyboard provides. You can get to the Windows supplied one by searching for osk.exe in Wimdows. I suggest you pin it to the start menu in case you need it.

What else can I tell you about the hardware? The SSD is as responsive as wholesale jerseys you’d expect, startup is quick and painless. Storage capacity is fine for most tasks, I tend to operate out of Dropbox these days, so can easily work within those limits. I have yet to try it as a cintiq attached to a workstation. The cable supplied does not work directly as I don’t have HDMI out on my workstation. I need to buy an adapter to convert to display port. The power socket seems solid so far with none of those connected, not charging niggles that plagued the first companion. I am a bit suspicious of the headphone socket though, I sometimes have to rotate it in place to get Realtek to recognise it’s plugged in. The in built camera front and back is adequate for skype and the like. I would’ve like a better rear one for taking reference photos while out on the field, but can understand it was not a high priority for Wacom.

Some people hate the stand that comes supplied with the companion and it takes a certain technique to stop it flopping out when setting it up, wholesale jerseys once in though it’s rock solid. The design is perfect for on the train as you avoid laptop clash when sharing a table and the rubber base stops it from slipping when perched on the tiny back seat fold out tables. The 3 heights are just fine for most purposes.

The fan. Well this is a point of much discussion. The problem with the fan is it goes ballistic at temps over 50 degrees. The trick is not to stress the cpu or gpu if you can help it. For while I am out and commuting, I throttle the cpu to 80% and that eliminates it peaking suddenly and noisily plus it helps preserve the battery. Remember, a hot battery is a dead battery.