What My Stages of Drawing Look Like

This is how I draw.  First, I lightly block in the shapes and shadows, paying special attention to proportions and how each element relates to its surroundings.  I try to set it up as accurately as possible, but I know I’ll likely change things slightly during the filling-in process later.

(This particular piece is a pet portrait commission which I charged way too little for.  Now that I know how time-consuming it is to draw realistic fur, I’ll be able to adjust my prices.  Or never accept pet portraits again!)  😉

Preliminary sketch by Amanda SchwabeThen, I add in more detail in gradually darkening layers.  I don’t want to go too dark, too fast in case I make a mistake because really dark lines can be hard to erase completely.

I start with the eyes.  I consider them to be the most important part of a portrait, so I build everything else around them.  They also make great reference points for gauging proportions and distances.

Step 2: filling in detail.  amandaschwabe.comFrom there, I gradually worked my way out, filling in the spaces with tiny pencil strokes to approximate the fur’s texture, which was different depending on its area.  Some of the fur was short and glossy, some long and downy, and some medium and coarse.

Drawing fur is a lot like making a very detailed contour drawing.  I had to pay close attention to the directions it pointed and how the lines related to each other.

Step 2 continued: endless fur drawing.  amandaschwabe.com

"Colouring in" fur.  amandaschwabe.com To draw glossy fur, I had to keep my pencil super sharp, which meant stopping to resharpen every minute or so.  Yes, the word for that is tedious.

I also kept checking my proportions as I added in each detail.  Once I knew they were right, I would darken the shadows more to give the features real shape.

Finishing the ear.  amandaschwabe.com

Endless filling in of fur.  amandaschwabe.com Drawing the snout was interesting.  I learn so much about things when I draw them!  The whiskery bits were all interconnected folds of fur flowing into the folds above and below.  Who knew dog snouts were so intricate?  The way the nose flowed into the surrounding areas was also pretty cool.

Drawing is actually an act of intense observation.

Throughout the entire drawing process, I rested my drawing hand on a piece of computer paper.  I did NOT want to smudge a single, hard-earned line.

The face is almost filled in!  How I Draw by Amanda Schwabe

How I Draw Fur.  amandaschwabe.comNow that I’d finished the face, I started on the body.  Why didn’t I block in the body along with the face in my original sketch?  Honestly, I don’t know.  It could be because I was tired of blocking in shapes once the face’s outline was done.  Or maybe I figured I could let the body grow from the finished proportions of the face instead of having to erase it all as I changed the face during the colouring-in process.

Yeah.  I think I’ll go with the second one.  Erasing is wonderful, but not that wonderful.

Beginning the body.  amandaschwabe.com

Almost done.  Dog drawing by Amanda Schwabe And there you have it: the various stages of this pencil drawing of a dog.  It has been a long time in the making.  I really had no idea how I was going to draw the hay around the dog’s paws until the last minute, when I tried out drawing only the negative space and decided I liked it.

Now, all I have to do is darken up my dark areas just a bit more, then spray it with some fixative and cut it to size.

I learned, a couple drawings ago, to draw my frame in the middle of the page before beginning.  This gives me room to move the borders of the piece if the subject migrates a bit during my drawing process.  🙂  This particular frame will be moving slightly to the left before I cut it to its intended 8×10 size.

Materials used:

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished product.

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2 Responses to “What My Stages of Drawing Look Like”

  1. Natalie March 29, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Amazing work, Amanda. Thanks for sharing your process. It was fascinating.

    • Amanda March 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

      Thanks, Natalie! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂