Elephant in Charcoal

Second practice at drawing animals whilst following Tracy Verdugo’s “Animal Antics” classes! In that lesson, we start with a Warm Up lesson, a great introduction to sketching animals! I have little experience with sketching other kinds of animals; my animals are typically limited to cats, bunnies, teddies and dogs and in simple shapes. So how do I draw them “properly” and in different positions? Sideways? Different poses? Plus How do I begin? This lesson was most helpful in getting us gave us started.

Charcoal Screen

First we grab a paper, preferably one suited for charcoal and pastel drawing and scribble on some charcoal from the side of the stick. I opted for some grey drawing paper this time.

The Sketch

Once that was done, we start drawing the shape of the animal of our choice. The last time, I went for a walking cat from a sideways view which turned out rather well. I thought for this time, though, I’d try drawing an animal that appears a lot in Tracy’s artwork but one I ought to try out: an elephant! I used some photos of elephants as reference, googling for any useful instructions and handy tips to draw one. The rest followed through trial and error. As you can see here, it’s not perfect but later on, we can tweak it as we work through the drawing.

Emergence through Negative Space

Here is where things get interesting! We don’t actually paint the subject itself, we work around it. The aim of this exercise is to focus on the negative spaces, and by using the eraser to take away the charcoal we allow the image to emerge. If we have taken out too much charcoal, we can always add it back on. This method gets us to concentrate on the shape of the animal first rather than the fine details. Once we are happy with it of course, we can start adding the details and add more charcoal to enhance the subject. It took some time to get it right but in the end, I eventually made it. And here is my cute baby elephant!

And how cute does that she look! In the past I have tried drawing elephants but never could get them right. This method of starting with negative space works quite well and gives me more confidence and to stop getting so hung up with perfection. Although it is still not perfect, at least it does resemble an elephant! I prefer to stick with my own style and keep my characters with a big head and small body with exaggeratingly huge eyes so shall leave it as is. Finding this an enlightening session, I’m practicing this method with other animals too and getting the knack of it. Soon I shall share them here. And will then be looking forward to the second part of the Warm Up lesson!

Click here for more about Tracy Verdugo and her amazing classes!

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