A piece like this can be quite daunting, but not as bad as you might think! The key to this is to be patient and not get bogged down into the super details. First, let’s map out the space. When you are starting a sketch, don’t be too hung up on having exactly perfect. I always start a sketch in straight lines, which allows me to make small changes easier to get the right shape. I roughly mapped out the face and general area of where the fur is going to be. This mapping should be done with a HB pencil
Once you have mapped out in rough, then you can start to put in specific details, like the eyes and mouth. The key for this area is look at the reference image that you might have and see where the dark areas of fur are. They key to fur is layering, so that’s what I did! Start mapping out the dark areas of fur, like a puzzle. This will help at a later stage when you start to layer. This should be done with a HB pencil
Now you have the basic areas down, you can start to apply shading to the areas that are darker, for example the eyes, the brow, the nose and also the darker fur areas around the macaque’s face. If you are trying this out for the first time, focus on the head, but if you want a challenge, shade the head and start mapping out the rest of the body. If you want this challenge, make sure you cover, or at least are aware that, you have a long piece and should work from top to bottom to avoid any smudges. This is putting down the first layer, so stick with your HB pencil
Now you know what the darker areas are, you can start shading over with a 2B pencil. The next lightest areas after the darkest you can start to shade with a HB pencil. The problem I have with animal drawings is sometimes I can get bogged town in the major details of the fur. But stay loose! The fur for this piece was a simple back and forth motion, leaving some areas out which will later be the highlights of the fur. You don’t have to be detailed in your drawing, but rather give the illusion detail is there! This can be done by adding layers and then using your rubber strategically to give off that realism.
Once you have started shading in the fur, start to shade in the darker areas using the darker HB pencils. I usually start with 2B, then 4B and finally 6B for some small areas like the pupils of the eye, the brow and some areas around the legs and face. Even though you don’t need to go detail, try and make sure that the fur is being directed in the right direction. For example, the bottom of the face, the fur is going down and to the side, whereas on the belly the hair is just straight down. Look to your reference photo and find out what direction the fur is going in. Like I said make sure you leave some gaps in the fur, so that it doesn’t look super dark!
Fur is just layering, so for the next steps, just keep adding to the darker areas to give some texture. Use the rubber lightly in areas to give a dark to light ratio of the piece. The final stages are just making sure that the fur has enough dark and enough light to be realistic. These drawings can often be daunting, but by simply breaking down the layers, look for shortcuts, you will have your very own macaque drawing!