BY THOMAS MAXWELL
What you need:
- HB Pencil
- White Chalk
- Toned paper
February is the Chinese New Year and for this year the animal is a tiger, which stands for power and daring, well… drawing this is daring enough for me! For this month we will be honouring the Chinese New Year with a sketch of a tiger, and further try and help you with starting pieces on animals as it can often be quite challenging.
As with any art piece, the first step is to map out your subject. This can be done by taking a number of measurements of the subject and marking them on your canvas or paper. Animals are just like humans and have similar anatomical skulls, so similar methods you use for humans can be used for animals. I started by doing an overall size of the head, which I then split into three, top half with eyes, middle with nose and bottom with mouth.
Sometimes with such a light tool like white chalk, if it is put on top of graphite, it creates a dull silver effect. This can be useful later for some of the lighter fur but for now we need to start with the highlights. I find the brightest parts of the piece, making sure not to cover the entire space. After adding these layers, it makes it easier at a later stage to separate the light from the Dark.
Using the HB Pencil, I start to map out the darkest areas of the tiger, which is usually the fur on top of the head as well as the central features like the eyes and the nose. Making sure not to mix the graphite with the white chalk, I carefully go around the darker areas, trying to keep it loose. For me, I don’t need to do every single piece of fur so I keep my strokes nice and vague. It can be useful to make small markings as you progress to keep a separation between the darker and mid fur tones.
Now we need to cover the fur that is not quite dark but is not white. For this, I put down a small level of light HB pencil, making sure not to press too hard. Unlike a Macaque for example, tiger fur tends to bend and curve, so I try not to make all the strokes to straight as otherwise you can end up with a tiger that looks like it just touched an electric fence. I then add a small layer of white chalk sparingly across this area, which gives that lighter silver finish that you can’t get with graphite alone. Here we then have three layers, the darker fur, lighter fur and the fur that is between the two polar tonal ranges.
Now it’s a matter of taking our darker charcoal and marking the darker fur to make it even darker. I usually make marks on the ends closer to the light areas as this would follow the rules of light and make the piece look more natural and make sure not to make the entire area black, as this can make it look unnatural. For charcoal I use Staedtler charcoal infused graphite pencils, which I find is easier that blocks of Charcoal.
And that is it! Tiger completed. If you liked this, please feel free to check out my other pieces on my Instagram @thomasomaxwell.
Keep up to date with Thomas on Instagram @thomasomaxwell or visit www.thomasomaxwell.com.