Monday, September 28, 2009

Advice for young artists: drawing animals in pen and ink.

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The zoo is a good place to find ideas if you are an artist who is interested in drawing animals. Some artists like to take a sketchbook with them and make many quick sketches of the animals they see. Personally, I like to take a camera. On my last visit to a zoo, I took a lot of pictures. I have enough ideas to keep me busy for a long time.

The pen and ink drawing on the previous page is of a young, white-tailed deer. I have seen this kind of deer many times when hunting, but the deer in the enclosure at the zoo were so tame that visitors could walk among them, close enough to touch them. Because I could get so close, I was able to take several close-up shots. For this reason I was able to make a study of the many textures that make up the small deer.

I'll talk more about texture later, but first, let's take a look at the first three diagrams. These illustrate how I first sketched out the simplest, largest shapes, then began to add details like the deer's eye, nose, and shapes of muscles and bones.


"Texture" is an important word artists use. It means "how an object feels, or ^looks like it feels." For instance, whendrawing a deer, we want our drawing to have the illusion that it feels soft and ^furry. Ink on paper certainly does not feel furry, but there are techniques artists use to simulate various textures.

This drawing was in pen and ink. The same techniques can be used with fine-point markers and ball-point pens however.

This square at the right shows one of these techniques, crosshatching

Notice that in the box at the left, some areas have been left white to show the white markings on the deer's face (around the eye and nose and under the chin and neck).

Also, notice that the pen strokes are shorter, to show that the hair on the deer's head is shorter than the hair on his body.

Lighter areas are shown not with crosshatching (lines overlapping each other) but look like rows of commas.

"But what if I make a mistake?"

Pen and ink can be unpredictable at times, especially for beginners. You'll be going along fine when all of a sudden a big blob of ink will come spilling out of the pen all over the place. Don't panic when this happens. Simply let that area dry and apply "white-out" or typewriter correction fluid over the area. This is available at any office supply store. When the "white-out" has dried, draw over it.

written and illustrated by Andrew Wales

Source Citation:Wales, Andrew. "Advice for young artists: drawing animals in pen and ink." Boy's Quest 15.1 (June-July 2009): 38(3). General OneFile. Gale. Alachua County Library District. 28 Sept. 2009

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