Tom Benson Creative Writer and Artist
Tom Benson           Creative Writer                                      and Artist

Owl - be seeing you

Having completed 'Ship Building' using acrylics I decided I would show my next drawing project in stages. I used coloured pencils for this Barn Owl. (Staedtler Ergosoft are my choice here).

1. I elected to use card rather than paper.

Why? I already knew I'd be layering and cross-hatching the colours, so I wanted to have confidence in the surface.

- I studied my 'original' on my pc screen and, judged the centre of the subject.

- Before drawing I laid a mount over the card to help me concentrate my work on the central area.

- I drew a vertical line down the centre and then five horizontal lines to help me judge the approximate top, bottom and, centre.

- Using a 4H graded pencil I worked quickly to sketch in the outline of the subject.

- I held the pencil near the top so I was using it like a paintbrush. This technique allows several outlines to be lightly drawn.

- Holding a pencil too close to the point tends to make the artist press harder, which is not desired in the early stages.

2. I moved up in grade from a very light 4H to a HB (middle grade) pencil, but continued with my technique of holding the pencil near the top end.

- As I saw the general shape forming, I stopped every few minutes and stepped back from the easel.

- It's tempting to continue and become engrossed in finalising the outline, but only by stepping back is an artist able to appreciate the overall setting and form.

- I continued to use the HB pencil in the latter stages of forming the definite shape and outline. There were many light outlines to choose from.

- I moved my fingers down closer to the pencil point to ensure I gained accuracy in which outlines I chose.

- At this point, there is still no use of an eraser.

3. I continued with the HB pencil and, kept my hand nearer to the middle.

- I rapidly and lightly sketched in the small feathers on the head and neck.

- I sketched in the main groups of wing feathers and the direction of the grain on the wooden post.

- I kept an eye on areas which would be white or pale in the end product.

- Instead of using an eraser, it's better to leave the white areas alone if possible.

- I darkened the eyes but only with the HB pencil. Not surprisingly the eyes are a focal point for the artist.

- I stepped back often to assess the general appearance.

- When it felt the internal structure was becoming more prominent, I lightly erased the darker outline, but I was careful to step back and assess regularly.

- I used the HB pencil to lightly show the areas of shade in the face and breast.

- I left face and, outer wing with a strong outline.

4. The first use of colour was an ochre (naples yellow).

- I held the pencil high, just as I would to create the lightest touch on the surface.

- I used the ochre in every area where there would be colour. It was important to continue avoiding the white areas.

- To concentrate on the bird, I avoided the temptation to create a base colour on the wooden post.

- When I was happy with the areas lightly coated in ochre, I then used yellow (primary), but sparingly.

- In some places, like the top edge of the wing, there would be a 'golden' and white effect, so the yellow was used with more pressure to ensure it was pronounced.

- Most, but no all of the ochre areas were cross-hatched with yellow.

- I used a fingertip to 'blend' the ochre and yellow in patches.

- To finish this stage I selected a 2B (soft) pencil to darken the eyes and the 'face'.

- I also used a few strokes of the 2B pencil to emphasise the wing feathers.

5. I used a fingertip to 'blend' the shadowed areas of the face.

- I used orange to create patches of deeper colour on the head and, neck.

- I continued with orange to create the same patches of depth on the forward edge, back edge and tip of the wing.

- I used a light touch to apply red (primary) to create small patches of deeper colour on the head, front edge of wing and on patches over the wing.

- I used strokes and shades of brown and, purple on the short back feathers.

6. To create balance I used a 2B (soft) pencil lightly to create more shade in the face and body.

- It was important to remember not to shade areas which would remain white.

- I used a fingertip to blend and tone the shaded areas of face and body.

- I drew faint lines close together to produce a feathered texture to the face.

- I applied an eye-shadow effect working out from the eyes, using pencil strokes.

- I used single pencil strokes from outer edge to centre to darken the eyes.

- I used a few light strokes of pink on the beak.

- I cleaned the edge of a soft eraser and 'flicked' it where I required highlighted feathers on the wing.

- Where I'd created the highlighted feathers, I emphasised with a few strokes of the 2B pencil. I darkened other areas of wing.

- I gave the wooden post a light coating of ochre.

7. I coloured the wooden post with layers and, patches of ochre, yellow, orange, red and, brown.

- I blended the colours in areas to creat more patches and, used the colours again to highlight or darken as required.

- I worked downward with the lighter colours and, upward with the dark brown.

- When I saw an overall balance of colour in the drawing I used the clean edge of the eraser to 'highlight' and 'clean' the areas of face, neck, breast and body where the fingertip shading had over-run.

- I used the eraser around the entire profile to 'clean' the few hairlines leftover from the initial layout. 

8. The post required a range of tones to create depth, cracks and highlights.

- I used red to shade the edges which would require to be the darkest. I added ochre and brown over all but the brightest sections and, cross-hatched the brown over the red shaded areas to create more depth overall.

- I used a fingertip to blend areas of colour in the post and, darkened with the brown along the edges of darkest colour.

- Background colour was created by starting with yellow in diagonal shading from bottom left to top right.

- I cross-hatched the yellow with pale green shading applied from bottom right to top left.

- I blended the two cross-hatched colours with fingertip in patches.

- The final colouring was forest green (dark), applied from outer edge towards centre objects.

- To create the 'ray' effect I didn't blend the darker colour.

          Updates

Sunday 16th July 2017

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