Wednesday 30 December 2009

Coloured pencil Rhino finished

This is the completed drawing of the Rhino. I have titled it 'Heavyweight'. The background is merely suggested as I didn't want it to compete with the animal, yet still wanted to convey the dust and heat of Africa.

Size 21.5 x 29.5cms
Watersoluble coloured pencils

Fabrianno Artistico hot press paper

Rhino in watersoluble coloured pencil.

Over the holidays I have been taking some time out to draw something for myself and decided to try out some of Derwent's new watersoluble pencils I bought at the NEC in November. I am surprised to find I really like them, up to now I have not liked watersolubles, but these work well.

First I lay down a very light layer of dry colour pencil, and then dissolved the colour using one of those water brush thingys....stops me flooding everything with water as I usually do. This is the early stage.

Then I worked over this base colour using dry pencil , building up tone and colour and adding in the wrinkles and skin textures. Here I am almost complete. I am hoping to finish it later today and will post the results.

Tuesday 22 December 2009


I am taking some time out until after the holidays - hoping to get some drawing done - so I want to wish a super Happy Christmas to all my friends and fellow artists. I hope you all have a wonderful time and that 2010 brings loads of success and plenty of time for art!
Guarding the tree and all the presents is, of course, my wonderful collie Tilly, who thinks that the little round red present is a ball for her!

Thursday 17 December 2009

I completed this drawing of Kali, a westie cross for my friend D. Kali crossed over the rainbow bridge in the summer leaving her owners bereft. I decided to draw Kali as a memorial for a sweet and loving little dog. .

I used graphite and coloured pencils on Fabrianno Artistico paper, measuring slightly larger than A4.


Here I show the early stages to show how I built up the layers of colour and graphite.


Thursday 10 December 2009

Meerkat Cards

This image has been so popular that I thought I should produce cards from it.

The cards are blank inside, measure 11.5cms x 18cms and come with plain white envelopes.
Available in a pack of 5 at £10.00 which includes postage in the UK. Postage to other countries will be extra.
Please e mail me if you are interested in bying these delightful cards.

Thursday 3 December 2009

Ring-tailed Lemurs in Coloured Pencil 38 x 15cm

This WIP was commissioned by a well known magazine. Disappointingly, due to a change of Editor it will now not be used. So I post it on my blog for you to see how I produce a detailed coloured pencil painting of a couple of ring-tailed lemurs. Enjoy!

Drawing animals with coloured pencil is challenging but very rewarding, and allows the artist to achieve high levels of detail and realism. Patience is required to develop the texture and colour of fur which is essential for capturing the essence and character of the animals you are depicting; whether you are drawing your own pets or the more exotic species from around the world.

My tools and materials
Fabrianno Artistico hp paper 300gsm
Faber-Castell Polychromos and Berol Karisma coloured pencils
Derwent embossing tool
Blu Tack
3B graphite pencil

Scalpel for sharpening pencils. It is important to keep a sharp point on your pencils when drawing fur.

Stage 1: Indenting

After transferring a fairly detailed pencil sketch of my subjects onto my paper and before laying down any colour, I use the embossing tool to indent what will be the longer soft fur around the ears and the shorter fur across the top of the lemur’s heads, which I want to keep a crisp white against what will be a dark green background. I find indenting is an easier method to establish white hair against dark than negative drawing. I start on the background first. Using indigo, yellow ochre and three greens, deep cobalt green, chrome oxide green and permanent green olive, I layer the colours to get a dappled leafy feel. I don’t want any pencil marks showing and use a circular motion, never pressing too hard, layering the colours until all the white paper is covered. The lines which were indented into the paper will stay white.

Stage 2: Laying down colour

Now the fun part begins. I always work from left to right and keep a sheet of clean white paper to rest my hand on, which stops me smudging the outline sketch of the subject, or getting the natural oils from my hand onto the paper, which can effect the way coloured pencil ‘takes’ to the paper.

For the texture of the shorter fur on the top of the head, I ‘flick’ the pencil in short strokes in an upward movement, using different colours placed next to each other, building up the marks to get the thickness of the fur. Vary the direction of these strokes a little throughout the area to avoid a regimented look to the fur, and use more strokes in areas which are darker or in shadow. I use the white of the paper between the coloured strokes to suggest light reflecting off each hair. Fur often appears to be made up of many different colours and here I used mauve, indigo, grey and a lovely dark reddish brown called caput mortuum.

The inner ear of these animals is very dark and again, before using any colour, I have indented a few curved lines which will show the fine white hair overlapping the black skin. After completing the ear I used Blu Tack pinched to a sharp edge to lift out more soft hair from the black inner ear. Using Blue tack to lift colour is an excellent way of lightening areas which you may have overworked, or where you need a lighter area.

Progress made.

Stage 3. Working on the eyes

Moving on to the eyes. It’s important to get the eyes correct, as mistakes here can ruin your picture. I want to get the wet, glassy look of the eye and so I keep in mind that it is essentially a round object, like a marble. If the light comes in from above the subject it will often cause a lightening of colour at the bottom of the iris and will also create a clearer highlight towards the top of the iris. If a flash has been used when photographing the subject, the highlight will be small and crisp, and I would suggest that you change this in your drawing to something softer to create realism. Studying images of animal eyes will soon help you get to grips with them.

I start by laying down the lightest colour, yellow ochre, all over the iris, but make sure I leave the area where I want the highlight to be. Over the yellow ochre I layer venetian red, burnt sienna and pumpkin orange; once again leaving the highlight white. I darken the area around the very edge of the iris using walnut brown to create the rounded shape of the eye and then lift some of the colour from a small area at the bottom of the eye using Blu Tack, which creates a secondary slightly darker highlight. I soften the edges of the bright upper highlight and finally darken the pupil with a dark brown and a little black. Moving on to the skin immediately around the eye, I use indigo, caput mortuum and black, with smooth strokes of colour. Again I lift out some of the colour to create shape and form.

I can now move on to the nose and mouth. Using mostly indigo with a small amount of caput mortuum and mauve and carefully following the contours of the nose and muzzle using smooth layers of colours, I gradually build up the darker tones as I go, adding a little black inside the nostrils. Always follow the natural curves of muscle and bone structure of the animal with your pencil strokes to get a believable look, obvious pencil marks running against the underlying structure will ruin all your hard work.

A close up view of the eye.

Stage 4: Ring-tailed lemurs completed

After completing the eyes, nose and mouth, I continue putting on colour using very short strokes for the fur on the faces and work around the drawing until I feel that I have gone as far as I can then I put the drawing aside for a day or two. Coming back to it later and looking at it with a critical eye, I see there are some small final adjustments and tweaks that need doing. In this case I darken some of the shadows under the lemur’s chins to add definition and depth. I add a little more texture to the fur under the eyes and some more colour to the tail fur (bottom right corner) making the fur a little more realistic. Last of all I carefully add the whiskers.

The Completed painting.

Pencil on toned paper

Here are a couple of experiments using graphite pencil and white coloured pencil, plus a touch of white gel pen on grey paper. I am reasona...