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.

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”.