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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Drawing Tutorial 1. Kitten Face and Eyes

Being able to draw well is an extremely important foundation for art, and although I know of artists that feel that they cannot draw but are able to paint, I still believe that sharpening this skill is extremely important for all artists.

Like all skills, drawing, if not practiced can get rusty, but it is nothing that a little time and patience can't sharpen up.  In this tutorial we will work on creating a kitten face, a sketch to be used for a final drawing.  The images are from my sketchbook, and you may notice that there are other drawings in the background. That is OK, as this is just a sketch, and will NOT be the final product

For this project you will need.
The following Pencils:
1. 9H, 7H, 2H, 2B, 4B, 7B
It doesn't matter on brand, my box is stocked with Derwent, Faber Castel, Staedtler, and others I have no idea who made.  Do make sure that they provide a consistent line on the paper.
2. Kneaded Eraser
3. Gum Eraser
4. Sketch pad

The kitten project we will be working on was created from the above photo. My print is extremely grainy, due to the low resolution of the original. You will also note a pre-existing picture in the background on my sketch pad. I'm big on not wasting materials, and a sketch book is the perfect place to re-use the paper to work out drawing problems without worrying about what is already down.

1. The first thing that is important is to layout the general shape of the head, and more importantly the eyes. The eyes of kittens are large in proportion to their face.  Drawing eyes accurately is crucial.  Oftentimes the eyes can carry an otherwise weak drawing. The eyes are more or less almond shaped. In this particular picture the kittens eyes are wide open, so the pupils are completely visible, but usually the upper portion is obscured by the top lid.  Once the general shape of the eyes is drawn, use a 9H pencil to begin to draw the fur.  The lines will be very light, do NOT press down hard, as to do so will leave lines in the paper that will pick up the graphite when we go to fill in some of the areas.  Draw the fur using long strokes in the direction of the fur itself.  Gently shade the eye following the curve of the eye.  Do not worry if the strokes are barely visible.  This is ok, and will be filled in more as the drawing progresses.

2. In this image, I have begun filling out the left eye, and begun to darken strokes.  Using a 7H pencil, go back over the fur, and begin to create the kittens stripes.  Always follow the lay of the fur. You can also begin to strengthen the tones of the eyes.  You may have noticed that I have left a small dot in the pupil, as well as highlights in the iris of the eye itself.  The light source is approximately straight ahead, so I've left allowed the top and bottom of the irises to be somewhat lighter than the rest, while still following the contour of the eye itself.  I've also sketched in the approximate location of the nose. The nose is located centrally below the eyes, and is approximately half the distance that is between the irises below the center of the eyes. You can use a piece of paper to measure this if you would like.

3.  I have continued to fill in the face and fur, and have filled out the nose.  Using progressively softer pencils I've begun to fill in the central area of the fur on the face.  I'm not happy with the placement of the ears, or the size of the nose, so I will use a kneaded eraser to gently lift the top of the nose, and outlines of the ears. Clean the area by pressing the eraser into the part that you wish to lift. Never attempt to rub a kneaded eraser around the paper or it will tear it.  You can do final cleaning with a gum eraser, just be very careful not to damage the surface of the paper.

4. At this point I have redrawn the ears, and shrunk the nose.  As far as sketches are concerned, this is complete.  The goal of sketching is to hammer out the details of your final drawing or painting.  I feel good about the placement of the facial features, and will continue on a more appropriate surface. I will work on smoothing the fur, and probably attempt to bring more light into the eyes.

As you have probably noted, the surface appears very grainy and this is due to the paper itself. This particular paper is rough, and leaves a very grainy surface. Arches Hotpress watercolor paper, Bristol velum, and a variety of other drawing papers will serve to smooth out the details. Its very important to get the details right in the sketch, as alot of drawing papers lose their surface if you attempt to rework the area many times. For more Tips and How to information, please see Betty Edward's books "Drawing on the Right side of the Brain, and the workbook" these are wonderful books for improving your skills.

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