Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sketching Beneath the Feathers

When I find myself in a slump, I am forever surfing the internet for inspiration and motivation.  My favorite places are active blogs and those that inspire me the most are listed to the right. 

In addition, I love looking for tutorials on the net.  I find that if I'm in a drawing or painting slump, following a tutorial sometimes help to bring me out.  Maybe I'm not up to composing my own work (thinking up and working out the preliminary ideas) because I lack the energy to do so while at the same time wanting to do something.  When times like that hit me, I'll go looking for a tutorial where the subject matter has already been laid out and try emulating what I see.

Here is a website I recently discovered with tutorials on drawing birds.  I like how this guy (John Muir Laws) approaches and presents drawing birds.  Watching his little animated gifs, one caught my eye and it was the young bird's stage without feathers I chose to try.  On his page, it's the second image I captured in pen, ink, and wash and took scans along the way to help me remember and share with others just what I did to achieve my final results.

I've used a Tombow marker pen and small round brush with water in a Moleskine Watercolor Journal Book. 

First I did a pencil sketch of the 'naked' bird with a #2 pencil.  Taking the Tombow marker pen using the brush tip end of the pen, I outlined the pencil marks and filled in the eye and beak.  Next I used a round brush dipping in water and tapping onto a paper towel to remove excess water.  I like the ink to run but maintain control at the same time.  I ran the pointed end of the brush inside the outlined area along the ink line causing it to bleed and spread.  Along the way, I filled the body area with diluted ink that I scribbled onto a piece of plexiglass and added some water to (using like a diluted watercolor mix).  Normally I'll pre-wet the area on paper before applying the ink wash unless I want some texture or hard edges on my marks; at which time, I'll use the dry brush technique and diluted ink.

If you're new to sketching birds, do check out John Muir Laws' site and try your hand following his animated illustrations.

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