The Process of Christopher

The handsome Christopher of Safe Haven Rescue Zoo was the model for this graphite/charcoal drawing. This piece is currently up for purchase on my website with 40% of the price going to Safe Haven.

As always, I make sure the lines for the outline are very light. If you press too hard, they will appear in the final piece.

After the basic outline is done, I compare it with the reference image I am using. Once I am satisfied, I move on the putting in the graphite.

I am smoothing out the pencil with a blending stump, with as always a light hand. The paper I am using has pretty good tooth, which hold more layers of graphite & charcoal.

The first layer of graphite is never….pretty. All I am doing at this point is getting in my soft base. This is for shadows and fur build up. The stripes were put in with charcoal, using a light hand. As the build up of graphite continues I slowly add in charcoal to give the overall piece more dimension.

I walk away from pieces a lot through out working on them. It helps me eyes focus and not be so obsessed with one area.

At this point Christopher is starting to come into focus more. I am bouncing around the image to even out the shading so it matches the overall piece. Once you bulk up one area another tends to scream for more attention. This is normal and I would say embrace it. Going back and forth isn’t a bad thing at all, it just shows you are truly paying attention to what you are doing.

After the background is in, this is when I slowly place in small details like tiny fur around the muzzle.

Smooth background right now? Not even close! But that’s okay. When working with this medium I like to think of it as really working with basic shading more. It makes it easier to transition to color when you can see the importance of contrast and value. I place in the background fairly quick and sloppy to just balance out Christopher. This will help me ‘pop’ him out more since he is a lovely white tiger.

Christopher; 9 x 12; Graphite & Charcoal on Fabranio Watercolor Paper $200.00

After darkening up Christopher more and getting everything balanced, I can start working in the white charcoal pencil (my personal favorite part!). Avoid using the white right away or too soon. This is a detail tool, at least it is for me when working with this medium. Pay attention to the direction of the fur when doing detail work. Before even doing a sketch of your subject, really study it. Tedious? Yes. But extremely helpful. Get to know the anatomy structure of any being you work on. Once I am satisfied (after a lot of walking away) I spay the piece with workable fixative outside and voila! Complete.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial. Keep an eye out for more piece coming your way! I really enjoy doing these and would love to hear your feedback. Don’t be shy! What do you like, dislike, want to see more or less of?

During my next post I will be getting a little personal. I had a bit of an epiphany last night and it was rather powerful. Put many things in perspective and let me know that fear and change is okay to have. Stay tuned for more and have an excellent week 🙂


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