Some reference photos have been among my files for quite a while. Looking at them, I often see all kinds of impediments… I am simply scared to fail. And, since I am the proud owner of both Polychromos colour pencils and Pitt pastel pencils, and both Bristol smooth and Pastelmat paper, it takes some consideration what would be appropriate to use for a specific reference. Like this beautiful lion by skeeze on pixabay.com: is this colour pencil or pastel pencil material? The latter could be a problem, since I probably won’t be able to draw all these fine individual hairs with pastel on Pastelmat. So colour pencil it is. On Bristol smooth.
The largest sheet of paper I have is 11″x 14″, so I will most likely need my glasses a lot, to meticulously draw the details. The eyes will be only about 13 mm wide on this scale, which is a pity, since I really love to draw eyes. But it’ll have to do.
I’m starting with the eyes, because it is so tricky when you have to draw them this small. It’s a challenge to get the original stare in there. At first, it always looks a bit strange, just those eyes, but once I start drawing some fur and eyebrows, it’s getting better.
Something I still want to try, is using the embossing tool. So I decide to follow a ‘new’ procedure. I start filling in parts with an underlayer of the lightest hair colour. Then I use the embossing tool to draw a few individual hairs in the right direction. With the next layers, I darken the spots where the colour is a touch darker, and go in with the embossing tool again. Finally, I fill the spaces between the strands with darker colours, and add a ‘glow’ all over.
The wavy mane needs a bit of a wiggly hand with the embossing tool…
The nose is – together with the eyes – one of my favourite parts to draw. I love the contrasts and the structure, and the numerous colours involved… Tiny spots of blue, purple, green, orange, yellow, brown, grey, and so on, make a nose come alive.
As usual, I’m switching from left to right, top to bottom, all the time. On the left side, a part of the lion’s body is showing in the background. The patchy fur can simply be drawn with quick pencil movements, creating vague spots in layers of pink, yellow, brown and grey.
The face of the king is intriguing, with all the tiny scars and imperfections. All the contrasts are creating an opportunity for more depth, so I use lots of layers here.
The ground looks like rubble with some leaves and stuff, which takes some time to draw. One out-of-focus leaf, though hardly recognisable, can easily take 15 minutes!
The chin is harder than I thought. The paper is not that white, so leaving white spaces for highlights doesn’t do the trick. I try all my whites (like the Luminances), as well as white charcoal, but it’s not working. The only thing I can do is darken the edges with some light and dark blue and brown, to deepen the contrast.
For the short-haired front paws, I use the embossing tool with short strokes. It is important here to pay attention to the structure of the bone of the paw, and all it’s bumps and dents. They can be created with lighter and darker patches, which seem to change the direction of the fur.
It’s quite a challenge to pick the right colours. And using the embossing tool means: no room for mistakes. Once you carve the paper, there’s no way to change the colour any more. This shows, in the end, when I try to put down some extra shading: the scratches become more and more visible, and will not darken… So it is important to carefully choose colours before each round of indenting.
To create a shiny effect in the mane and the strands of hair, I use dark colours on one side – like dark brown, sepia, purple – gradually becoming lighter (red, cinnamon, orange, yellow, pink). The ends of the strands are a bit darker again, with yellow, greenish yellow, pink or cinnamon. Also, I have used a lot of green, blue, purple and grey to create shades and depth in the fur.
I finish by re-doing the whiskers, with some dark pencils and a Derwent graphic white line painter, which in fact makes this a mixed-media piece of art… 😁
PS: I have no idea which level of detail is interesting for anyone, so please leave your questions or remarks in the comments, if any! What would you like to read about drawing? I’m always up for a chat… 😉