Lesson 5: Applying Construction to Animals
White Pelican Demo
This demo is a little older, having been published in August 2016. As such, while I have decided that there is still something of value here, any techniques or approaches outlined in demonstrations not flagged with this message should be considered to take precedence over what is covered here. This is a natural part of Drawabox being an evolving, growing resource.
Step by step
As I mentioned above, we've simplified the torso into a single mass, rather than splitting them into ribcage and pelvis. Keep in mind that the masses you see here are not flat, 2D shapes. They are 3D forms. Of course, the only difference is in how you choose to perceive them, as the outline of a 3D ball will still be drawn as an ellipse. If you're not entirely comfortable with this, you may choose to add one or two contour curves to help reinforce the illusion, but don't go overboard and make sure you're not sloppy in their execution.
This is a small step, but I wanted to focus on how the base of the beak there wraps around the ball of the cranium where it connects to the head. Being mindful of this curvature is extremely important, and if you don't properly perceive the illusion of that cranial mass being a 3D ball, you will not draw this curve correctly. Always remind yourself that we are dealing in three dimensional forms. Additionally, you can see that I've added an eye socket, and I've roughly gauged how long my beak is going to be.
I've fleshed out the rest of the beak, adding a couple of little contour curves to help maintain the illusion of form. Additionally, I'm using a similar technique with the neck as I introduced in lesson 3, when dealing with stems and branches. That is, placing a couple of ellipses along the length in order to give myself some targets to hit when I construct the edges of the tube. I've also distinctly defined how that neck-tube is going to connect to the torso. Think of it as a headphone jack. You're setting out the hole, so you know exactly where to plug the neck in.
So I've played connect-the-dots with the neck ellipses and constructed that tube. I've also added the remaining major forms - that is, the thigh masses, the legs and the feet.
Admittedly I put the legs way too close together, but these mistakes do happen, and when they do, just keep pushing forwards. You'll notice that the thighs are not visible at all in the drawing. That is, they're there, but you can't make them out and differentiate them from the rest of the torso, because of how the feathers all blend everything together.
It is entirely necessary however for us to understand what is going on underneath the skin - having eaten many a bird in my long life, I am all too well aware of their juicy, succulent thigh-meats, so how could I refrain from including them? Draw on all of your experiences, and feed your curiosity. Study and observe everything around you, as this information will prove to be very valuable in pushing the believability of your drawings in the most unexpected of ways.
Looking closely at the reference image, you'll see that there's a few other forms that we were missing - the wing's a big one, but there's also the transition between the back of the neck and the torso, something easily missed. With the wing, I felt it especially important to separate that form from the rest of the torso, so I leveraged a couple of contour curves here to help puff it out.
Since you're this far through the lessons, you know how I feel about detail - it's not that important. It's really where you can let your observational skills shine the most, since you can worry a lot less about constructing everything, and behave more like a mindless photocopier. Just make sure you don't go overboard, as it's very easy to lose track of the underlying forms. Less is always more with this sort of thing.
I'm leaving the actual image for this section out, so students focus on the forms established in the previous step.
The Art of Brom
Here we're getting into the subjective - Gerald Brom is one of my favourite artists (and a pretty fantastic novelist!). That said, if I recommended art books just for the beautiful images contained therein, my list of recommendations would be miles long.
The reason this book is close to my heart is because of its introduction, where Brom goes explains in detail just how he went from being an army brat to one of the most highly respected dark fantasy artists in the world today. I believe that one's work is flavoured by their life's experiences, and discovering the roots from which other artists hail can help give one perspective on their own beginnings, and perhaps their eventual destination as well.