A little bit about how my drawings are created: How to draw a Lion

How to draw wildlife – Each original takes many hours of careful planning before I even put pencil to paper. Especially my larger works, I plan every detail from the lighting to the background.

When I begin the drawing process it’s always a very exciting time for me. I know there will be many hours spent on this and I can’t wait to get started and see it take shape.

Every drawing takes between 50 and 300 hours to complete.

I use a limited range of pencils usually a 2B, 3B and 4B and a narrow eraser.

There are NO shortcuts, each individual hair, whisker etc is drawn and the backgrounds are all shaded pencil strokes. Keep reading for tips on how I draw or visit my blog for more including video clips and timelapse of my latest work…

Please click here to have a look at my original drawings

Lion – How to draw from start to finish:

Stage 1: Getting started

So before I begin on how to draw the lion, I start with the outline of the size of the picture, this helps me no end when drawing, I can see where the edges of the work will be. Then I draw the outlines very lightly with a light HB pencil. Then map out where all the features will go, checking along the way that it all looks in the correct proportions and everything is in the right place. I have a habit of writing little notes to myself on the drawing along the way as this helps me when adding the detail, eg: “dark area” “light area” “put lots of detail here” “fade this out” etc etc.

then I begin on the detailing….

Stage 2:

I start at a place that feels comfortable. This tends to change with each drawing. I don’t have a set order in which I draw features, I just start where I feel like. After a few hours work I usually put the drawing away for a while. This lets me come back to it with fresh eyes so I can see straight away if there are any mistakes (if I work on it for too long at a time I become “blind” to the errors as it all looks so familiar) I work on several drawings at a time and rotate them.

Whiskers: I’m often asked how to draw whiskers. I like to draw around them, leaving the white paper showing through. Some artists use the sharp edge of an eraser to “rub out” the whiskers after they have shaded, but I find this leaves the whisker a bit grey looking as the rubber never leaves the paper completely white. I do use this technique occasionally at the end of a drawing to add in a few extra whiskers if I feel its needed.

Stage 3: The Background

I’ve added some background to the drawing now. This helps me to compare areas of light and dark and see where the darkest areas of the drawing will be and how light other areas are in comparison. It also starts to bring the drawing to life by making the subject stand out from the paper.

Stage 4: Adding more details

When most of the background is in I can focus on re-tracing my steps and adding to the face. The background helps me to see where I need to lighten and darken areas to make it stand out to look as realistic as possible. I concentrate on adding finer details too, bringing out the small hairs in the coat etc.

Stage 5 – Eyes:

After anatomical correctness and correct levels of shading, the eye is one of the most important features as its draws the viewers eye to the piece. It has to be as realistic as possible otherwise the rest of the drawing becomes “unbelievable”

I start by mapping the area that will be the white reflection in the eye. This way I can be sure to leave the paper showing through for maximum whiteness. I gradually layer the pencil on the eye, so I can easily add more if its not dark enough. I try to re-create all the little patterns in the eye (light reflections and the colours formed in the iris)

Stage 6: The finished piece

Once all the drawing work is completed I put it away for a few days and don’t look at it. I then bring it out with fresh eyes and have a look for any mistakes, lack of shading or areas that need lightening and “bringing out”. Some of my work will then go to my printers  to be professionally scanned and turned into high quality, limited edition Giclee prints. The original work is now ready for mounting and framing.”

  • By Julie Rhodes
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