Animal Drawing – The whole process

“It is time to gather all the information for animal drawing; drawing it from the very beginning to the end” I thought, could be a good way to finish the whole ‘animal‘ title.

Some days ago I watched an interview with an artist who was saying that the artist should spend some time on the topic/thing before starting the main piece of work. In this post, this is what we do actually. Memory study, the skeletal system and skull of the animal, then details(always come the last), it is going to be interesting.

I decided to draw an elephant which I have never drawn before. Time to check my memory of elephant. The large body with many folds, trunk, tusks, large ears… Let’s see.

Baggy skin and folds keep elephants cool under the hot sun, says National Geographic. The elephant’s wrinkled skin traps moisture in the hollows, which means it takes longer for the moisture to evaporate. African elephants are more wrinkled than their forest-dwelling Asian relatives.
Keeping that in mind and going on.

elephant memorySo the first step is checking your visual memory. This is what I have in my memory in the first place. The down part is the skin pattern in my memory.

elephant skeleton drawingSo after these skeleton drawings(from references), I found out that there is almost no distance between the pelvis and ribcage. This is the comparison between my memory and the sketch above.

elephant skullThis is the skull of an elephant; may be the strangest skull I have ever seen so far.

elephant drawing from memoryDrawing its skull before possibly helped me with that memory study above; in the perception of head’s form.
Last week I mentioned how to draw from memory. Shortly I explain it here, too.
While building your visual memory, the goal isn’t drawing effective/stylish; rather remembering/memorizing essentials. You are going to draw the pose with fewer lines as possible within a minute or two. That short time will make you avoid details and focus on the pose and general feature of the animal. Then check the animal to compare with your drawing, see what is wrong or missing. Then without looking at the animal draw the pose again.
You can do this study in real life, observing your pet or going to animal shelters etc. Or with reference photos or a frozen moment from a video. I googled for images.

elephant from memoryThis is another memory study, a bit closer to the head this time; exploring the wrinkles on the trunk, ear shape and the tusk’s (hidden) connection.

Now, after those memory and skeleton studies, let’s try to draw something realistic.

Here is an elephant tilting down its head slightly. That’s the photo I have chosen.

elephant drawing steps 1 proportionsI started drawing its pose, trying the catch the right angle, with a 2H hard pencil, with as lesser lines as possible. Then checked its proportions (sizes of head&ear&legs&body etc.) and made little corrections with kneaded eraser.
elephant drawing steps 2
(You can enlarge the image on the new tab)
Trying to give the general feature now with a 2H, started from left(its right) ear. Drawing with a hard pencil slightly before skipping to soft ones. 
The second frame, neck and head, shading slightly according to skull shape with making some of the skin effect; it has many wrinkles. Mind the direction of those wrinkles, in the trunk and ears especially.
The third frame, applying some feature to the other ear, trunk and front legs.
The fourth frame, body and hind legs.

elephant drawing steps 3For the foreground I draw some outlines to preserve white areas for grass and leaflets to make the contrast with the elephant, for some background.
Now I have something here, time to go to apply details and go darker in the shades and build some contrast.
With a 2B doing the general shading in the places where take the attention at first sight.
With a 4B I gave some depth to the darkened areas.
elephant drawingAdded background with a 2B and blending stump, gave a direction to the clouds and made one part especially dark to give the contrast effect with the light back side of the body. Some kneaded eraser to tiny whites in the darks in the cloud.
Then mix of all together with an 8B pencil, too. And this is how it looked like when I finished. 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 8B sketching pencils, blending tortillon and kneaded eraser.

Hope it was a helpful article. Let me know what you chose to draw and how it went. Happy sketches!

The source of the reference photo:


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