Drawings for 18 July, 2020

July 18, 2020

Today’s Flickr Explore was amazing – or I felt especially inspired, and there were six photos that I was tempted to draw. I finally did only two, chickening out on one architectural shot, and getting frustrated with a photo of a cat when I started out, and wanting to draw something quickly rather than get bogged down with erasing or drawing. Both today’s drawings are portraits of people.

This is the first:

make a change

And this is what I did:


Hmmm. I’ve made his face more square than long. And I’ve messed up the eyes a little, which is a problem I thought I’d overcome. But apart from that, nothing much. I tried to draw the folds of the kurta, and I don’t know if the way I’ve done it is the best – but I wouldn’t even have been trying last week.

Outlines in 2H, turban shading in 2B, facial hair in HB, and I tried HB shading to replicate the shadow on the left side of the face.

I wish I could do the background shades in some way.

Next up, there was this:


Almost everything is blurry, so this isn’t the sort of photo I’m used to reproducing. Would it be the same as any other portrait, or would there be problems I couldn’t anticipate? Well…


I think what’s thrown me off isn’t so much the blurriness or sharpness, as having to draw a face that’s turned and not looking right ahead. The photo subject’s eyes seem quizzical – and mine seem like they’re out of a horror movie.

I tried to go quick and dirty replicating the pattern of the shirt, and am now wondering if I should have just drawn the crosses (birds?) painstakingly after all.

My attempt to show the blurry lights in the ceiling is disastrous, I fear.

But I suppose a bigger challenge in portraits was important to keep me from getting overconfident.

Drawing for 17 July, 2020

July 17, 2020

I wanted to get back to the challenge of drawing people.

And in today’s Flickr explore, I saw an interesting-ish portrait. And when I clicked through, I found that the photographer specialises in portraits, and I found another portrait she’d done that I decided I wanted to try and draw. This one:


Having to draw the arms up is something I’ve never done before, so this was going to be a challenge. Only trees in the background, and no other people to draw, meant that it wasn’t going to be a painful challenge. This is what I did:


Self-criticism first: I’ve made my usual mistake of drawing foreground larger than background – here, it means that even after controlling for perspective, I may have made the poor model bulkier on her left side than the right side. I’ve also made her face much puffier than in the original.

Bright sides: I think this is the best I’ve done yet on getting eyes the right size and in line with each other. I also tried to draw an outline as it genuinely was, and not do, e.g the whole body, the whole face, and the whole shirt and then get frustrated and realise that I had to erase lines. (I did erase lines, to be clear – but then I drew them back in in different places. This wasn’t me erasing things that shouldn’t have been there at all.)

Notes: almost the whole drawing is done with a 2H, and even shading is done with a 2H. The hair, and the shadow on the left hand side, are done with 2B. I ended up not using an HB pencil at all in this one.


Drawing for 15 July, 2020

July 15, 2020

This morning, Flickr explore was full of wildlife photography, and short on street photography. So I decided to do something new: an insect. This one:

Soldier Beetle

Since it was my first time doing an insect, I was more worried about doing it at all then about doing it right. This is what I came up with:


I have the beetle’s head in line with its body more than the downturned position that the photo has; and using a 2H pencil as shading to represent the red head hasn’t worked out that well – it’s looking a little ghostly and faded. But overall, I’m pretty pleased at having done it reasonably well and in a short time.

Looking at it closer now, there are subtleties to the beetle’s head that I left out of my drawing – something to pay attention to the next time I do an insect.

Drawings for 14 July, 2020

July 14, 2020

I missed drawing on Monday as well, though that was less about laziness and more about a really weird schedule.

But I already knew what I wanted to draw on Monday, so I did two drawings today: what I’d planned for Monday, and what I found today.

Monday’s drawing was a face, because I was feeling up for a challenge. There was this amazing monochrome portrait on the Flickr explore page:

Darwin, Australia

And this is how I copied it:


The proportions are a little off – and I’m especially exasperated about the lips, though I think that is a problem of shading more than proportion. But as usual, I seem to do worse with the area between the nose and mouth, and better with the eyes. I think these are my best eyes since I started.

I think this leaves the subject looking much younger than in the photo – I tried to get the crows-feet around the eyes, but I think there’s an impact of the white hair in the photo that I can’t duplicate at my current level of skill.

I’ve now been trying a 2B pencil to do areas which are completely shadowed, and I’m not sure it’s working that well. But I don’t even know if the solution is to go back to HB or to pick an even blacker pencil.

Next up, a quick sketch for Tuesday. I tried to draw a photo of a castle through an arched gate, but got it badly wrong right at the beginning. And I was in a rush to shower and start the day, so rather than spend an unpredictable amount of time getting it right, I decided to do an easier photo, and found this:

Utrecht Centraal 2020

Ooh, this had to be simple, right? Just draw a curve and then draw parallel lines? Well… see for yourself:


I did the curve, I did the parallel lines (with a ruler, at that), but I didn’t get the parallel shadows on the blinds exactly right. I winged it on the shadow the window frames/ structures were casting, though, and I’m pretty happy with that.

I left the man in as simple straight lines as possible instead of trying to get into the details of the face. I feel it’s better this way.

But it’s fascinating to practice these sorts of regular and repeating things; and see and draw for myself how things get stretched out or twisted closer and further away from the camera.

(Ignore the 12/7 in the corner, I wrote the date wrong for some reason.)


Drawing for 12 July, 2020

July 14, 2020

After a very lazy Saturday where I skipped drawing, I got back to it on Sunday but I was still sleep deprived and looked for something easy. I found this:

Le cloître // The cloister

A chance to practice two point perspective and use long-ago acquired engineering drawing skills? Yay! I got down to it, and made this:


The scanner hasn’t done the greatest capture, but I’m not very happy with the drawing either. I got overconfident thinking that this would be simple geometric shapes, and used a ruler, but despite that… this just doesn’t match. I got far too intimidated by the arches on the other side of the courtyard, and I haven’t even got the number of arches in the near side right. Oof.

I haven’t even done the inner pillars (columns?) of the near side. I wonder if I’d have done a better job if I had just tried to replicate it from scratch, instead of overthinking vanishing points. Maybe it would have felt like a better job, at any rate.

At some point, maybe I’ll do a round of fresh attempts; and this is one of the photos that has me frustrated enough to want to redo.

Drawing for 10 July, 2020

July 14, 2020

This photo looked easy, but it also looked wonderful:

Time for a Cup

And this is what I made:


Negatives: I went slightly off on the proportions of the spoon and the cup handle. And I’ve made the bird bigger relative to the cup than it is in the photo.

Positives: I’m really pleased at getting the proportions of the bird mostly right, even if they are a bit too big. And that I was able to use three different pencil grades to shade the different feathers the bird has.

I’m still wondering how to achieve bright spots and light reflections with pencils.


Drawing for 9 July, 2020

July 12, 2020

I bit the bullet and tried to do faces again. Fortunately, Flickr explore for that day had this mesmerising long exposure photo where the same model is in three different parts of the photo, with a different expression in each:

Three Faces of Eve

And this is what I came up with:


I think at this point I’m still in the uncanny valley, but able to see the flatlands on the horizon.

Doing this involved paying attention to where the face was in shadow, and not trying to outline the whole face. It didn’t work perfectly, but I think I’ve got the basics right. I also paid a lot of attention to the shape of the eyes, and copying the small deviations from a regular ellipse that eyes actually are – and I think it’s worked.

Where I did get frustrated was the lower half of the face – it’s again one of those situations where I don’t even know what I’m doing wrong.

I think this was also the first drawing I did with a mix of 2H and HB.

Drawing for 8 July, 2020

July 12, 2020

I got ambitious and did two drawings on the 8th. The first was of this pig:


This is my copy:


I think I got his (her?) smile; but I went slightly off on proportions again – my drawing pig is long and more stretched out than the chubby pig in the photo – and my tub has hardly any water.

Trying to use shading to show the way the pig’s hair was swirling around on the body was fun. Between my drawing and the scanner, I don’t think it’s come through properly, but I think it’s more success than failure.

I also tried to do this monkey ape:

Lar Gibbon

Here’s the copy:


The photo has a whole bunch of fuzzy hair that wouldn’t have come across with outlining. I tried using outlines only for the gibbon’s face and ear (and nipple); and trying to replicate the hair with small pencil strokes. I don’t think it’s come out perfectly, but it was fun.

I also ended up making the right side of his (her?) face slightly disproportionate; and onlt realised it once it was beyond the scope of fixing with an eraser.

Drawing for 7 July, 2020

July 12, 2020

After two days of copying close up portraits, I wanted to try something different, and found this archival photo of a steam engine:

69100 Tanfield Lea  22 10 57 021 Howard Forster

This is how I reproduced it:


I had watched the two-point perspective tutorial by this time, and tried to apply it, but it didn’t work. I started in on the train, and found out that by the time I had done the engine and two wagons, I had run out of page.

And despite lots of effort trying to replicate the landscape, it ended up looking really, really flat and without the clear presence of depth that the original photo had.

I don’t know if I bit off more than I could chew and that landscapes are really hard (or at least something where I need to learn something I haven’t learnt yet), or if this is a photo that exposed my lack of skill.

Anyway, onward with both practice and with watching tutorials.

Drawing for 6 July, 2020

July 12, 2020

On 6 July, feeling confident after the previous day’s cat, I decided to try a human face again, and found this portrait:


And this is what I came up with:


So… it’s not as bad, and less distorted than the last time I tried to do faces, but it’s still in an uncanny valley. Shivani told me that I had made her bald – and yep, there’s a fall of hair on the left side of the forehead and around the ear that I simply forgot about. And the nose is also off in a way where I don’t even know what I did wrong.

But again,  I’m excited that I could get shapes across with not too many lines; in the torso and the neck.

I seem to have tilted the subject’s head the other way in the drawing as it is in the photo, while mostly getting the shape right. But again, I seem to have made the head bigger than the body.