Foxes in Colour – Work in Progress

From my recently completed charcoal drawings I have chosen to create coloured versions of the cub and the vixen. Here are images comparing the progress of the colour drawings with the charcoal versions.

Collage of four images that show a fox cub in colour and charcoal plus a vixen in colour and charcoal
mother and cub_ work in progress. Comparing the colour versions with the charcoal versions.

For the vixen I decided to concentrate on the head and shoulders as I really wanted to focus in on her expression. I just wonder what she is thinking!

Whatever it is, I still have a long way to go before the coloured drawings are finished.

Filling the tooth

My favourite subjects to draw are birds and animals. I use mainly colour pencils but occasionally dabble in pastels, graphite and charcoal. Layering the colour is important to build the texture whether it be the fur in an animal, the feathers of a bird or the skin of a rhino. To achieve this a paper with some texture is required.

Cartridge paper was the surface I started with. It has a bit of texture or tooth as it is sometimes described. I found that the depth of colour in a bird’s plumage could be rendered reasonably well as in this Coal Tit.

Coal tit
Coal tit

Drawing animals with thick fur did, however, require something with more tooth. Pastelmat was the paper I started using with pastels but I have found it works equally well with colour pencils. That is so long as you are happy to use a lot of pencils.  This black German Shepherd dog is drawn on an A3 sheet and there is a lot of red, blue and even purple in the fur.  It took a lot of time to get to this stage but having looked at it again, I think it could do with some more layers of colour to the fur around the neck. So far it has been worth it and hopefully, with the addition of some more layers, it will look even better.

Black German Shepherd Dog, Original image supplied by Art by Law
Black German Shepherd Dog, Original image supplied by Art by Law

In contrast,  I will not fill all the tooth of the paper completely for this drawing of a rhino as the roughness coming through in my opinion contributes to the texture of the animal’s skin.

Rhino to be completed
Rhino, a work in progress

A few weeks back I did try a velour style of paper using pastels. It was a drawing of an otter that I never finished as it just seemed odd drawing on what felt like a carpet tile.  Now with a bit more experience of filling the tooth of a paper, I will go back to it. On reflection, the drawing does not look as bad as it did a couple of months back.

Otter drawn on velour - a work in progress
Otter on velour – a work in progress

The main challenge will be to complete it in such a way that the fur looks wet as if the otter has emerged from the water. At the moment, it looks like a dragon with scales.  That will be the next challenge.

Refining the blending of colours

Following on from the Crested Tit that I completed last week, I have now finished a Chaffinch and with a few final touches, the Greenfinch will also be done. See the bottom of the page for images.

It is good to review your work and I am happy that my technique is improving.

The first bird that I completed was the Blue Tit, which if you look closely, quite a few lines can be seen and the blending is not too good. Then came the Wren and then a Robin.

eyes (4)
Blue Tit, Wren, and Robin

 

I liked the colours in the Wren but the Robin, I can’t make up my mind about. Maybe it is the pose! At some point, I will do the Robin and the Blue Tit again.

Next was the Bullfinch which looks a bit garish. But Bullfinches are brightly coloured and some people commented that they liked the bright colours. A matter of personal preference. Still, I may have another go!

eyes (1)
Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Goldcrest

The Goldfinch,  I enjoyed doing along with the Goldcrest.  Goldcrests being one of the smallest birds can be difficult to spot particularly as they spend a lot of time flying about the treetops. Both are nicely coloured little birds that are a joy to see when you are out and about.

eyes (2)
House Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit and Crested Tit

Next came the House Sparrow which I was particularly pleased with. A fat little fluffy bird that I drew as if it was on the ground. I recall from childhood how they seemed to prefer pecking at the seed on the ground. A couple of people have commented on how the drawing reminded them of that same characteristic. Pity that they are now not so common!

There was in my opinion, a slight set back with the Long-tailed Tit, as it looks a bit scrappy. It was quite a challenge to render on a white page that white stripe on the top of its head in such a way that it stood out! I might try that again but on the other hand, I might be able to rework it and improve the overall appearance. Will have to think about that.

Long-tailed Tits will now be gathering in flocks. I love it when they make their way along the woodland edge at the bottom of the garden. With their flashes of pink and white, they brighten up a dreary day.

The Crested Tit was another drawing where I felt I was becoming more confident in blending colours together. These birds can be found in Scottish pine woodlands and I think it is important to highlight the not so common birds.

As for the Chaffinch that I have just completed, I am extremely happy with it. The little bird that has been known to gatecrash picnics in the hope you will drop it some crumbs.

As far as the bird feeder specialist the greenfinch goes, he looks not so bad scanned but I may have over blended the colours in places. On the positive, I like the way the yellow and green do combine where I have not overdone it.

I will keep doing these little birds between larger projects as getting their colours right is a good way of practising blending techniques. Next goal is to finish a coal tit.

chaffinch_greenfinch_coal tit
Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Coal Tit

Finishing Projects!

At last, I have finished projects!

Nothing worse than having projects that you start but cannot for one reason or another finish.

The pug in pastel was put to one side because I had a deadline to meet with the black dog. The black dog was a tutorial piece to try out new colour pencil techniques and I have to say I am pleased with the results. The tutorial was delivered by Art By Law and the copyright for the black dog reference image belongs to Lisa Watkins. I did learn a lot about how to render the details in colour pencils such as the layering of the fur plus other useful techniques such as using a cutter and a stylus for texture… particularly for whiskers. Another useful skill was how to see colour in a black dog! The dog is not actually black it has tones of blue, brown, grey, red and even mauve. I found the experience extremely worthwhile!

The pug in pastel was an opportunity to compare the use of pastels with coloured pencils and I think I prefer the colour pencils. There is not the same amount of dust that you get with pastel. Also, I think there is more control and there is greater versatility in what you can achieve. The biggest drawback is you need a lot of “pencil” to cover an area. But for me, the results are worth it. The black dog was done in pencil and I think the effects are much better than the pastel. But then I suppose it is what you are used to!

The little bird is a Crested Tit that can be found in Scottish Pine Forests and adds to my collection of birds.  This drawing was started a couple of months ago but was put to one side while I finished off the dog projects. It is part of a collection that I intend to build up over the next few months. The birds will all be done using colour pencils and will start to incorporate some of the techniques that Lisa has used. The next birds I draw will be members of the finch family.

Lisa’s work can be used viewed on YouTube or her Patreon channel.  You can also search for her using the phrase “Art By Law”.

A New Begining

Time for a new direction as the job I had, was no longer fulfilling. With depression plunging me mentally to new depths, it was my partner who after watching me dabble in line drawings of leaves and flowers, drew my attention to the many “YouTube” demonstrations that were available.

I was a bit sceptical, but nevertheless started watching them and well… got sucked right in! At that stage, I was happy to stick with graphite pencils and build up my skill using shading techniques to create the illusion of depth.

After attempting a baby’s face, I was inspired to go further and tried some animal faces. I was particularly pleased with my attempt at an otter.

baby_otter_rose 1

Around the same time, I invested in some charcoal and began experimenting with texture. I had some successes but more notably a number of failures. The drawings of roses were particularly disappointing. (Please note the image looks better than the drawing). It was then back to “YouTube” for more instruction. I needed a greater understanding in order to rectify the problems.

badger_wolf_lion 1

After a go at a Badger in charcoal, which I was pleased with, I then had a go at a wolf,  then a prowling lioness, a little owl, a snoozing fox and a hedgehog.  Each had a different texture to try. The long hair on the wolf, the velvety short hair on the lioness, the feathers on the owl, the dead log that the fox was snoozing in and the spines on the hedgehog, were all suitably challenging.

owl_fox_hedgehog 1

In the lioness and fox drawings, I started to use pan pastels for the first time and loved their smooth texture.

Through the use of a small makeup sponge, I could quickly and lightly map out areas of shade, as well as the direction of the fur.

By now, I had the desire to incorporate colour. But, which route to take?

Do I take the pastel route or do I take the colour pencil route?

I started with pastel pencils and found it difficult to get the effect that I wanted. Then in my frustration, picked up a pack of colour pencils and began to experiment. Still following “YouTube” videos, I then managed to turn out a half-decent blue tit. By this time, I had now treated myself to a tin of Faber-Castell’s polychromos pencils. There is no way I would now part with them.

pencils_btit_giraffe

As for the pastels, I have not abandoned them. Through perseverance and experimenting with different papers, I am now beginning to understand them a bit better, incorporating them more and more into my work.  There is no doubt that a lot of the earlier issues I had, were to do with not fully understanding the layering process and what can be achieved on particular papers.

What I have also found important, is to persevere through the “ugly stage” of a drawing.  Don’t give up, see it through to the end, even if you do think you have overdone your giraffe’s nose. Finish the drawing and learn from the mistake.

So from here, the journey continues…