Bit on Materials and Techniques

Our focus has been on seeing and drawing animals, including the gesture, proportion, shapes, and form that make each species unique. Detail is the textures and patterns, and the colors and surface tones that are particular or peculiar to that animal—from the soft blotchy fur of a fawn, to the smooth pelt of a seal, thick fur of a husky, slippery skin of a frog, rough hide of a buffalo, shiny scales of a fish, or the horny plates of that rhino on safari.

Experimenting with all your materials and trying new ones as you see them is the best way to expand your vocabulary of marks and textures. Look at someone else's work (ask them if you can), or just stand there and try to imagine how they made a certain tone or texture. The more you practice yourself, the easier you will find it to identify a particular kind of mark or material. As always, let the real seeing and drawing of the animal come first.

Back to the Drawing Board

Photographs, as a reference, can certainly help, and sometimes they are the only way to get what you want. But please don't try to learn to draw from them; they are already flat and your drawings will follow suit, unless you have drawn from life and have enough practice to be able to "see" and draw three-dimensional shape and form. Try to use the photos for detail only.

Experiment with different materials and textures to see what works best for the animal you're trying to convey.

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