Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Four Chesapeakes in Pencil - Work in Progress

I have started my latest commission of the four Chesapeakes done in pencil. I thought that I would share a work in progress and talk a little about that. There is quite a bit of work behind the scenes before I actually get to the stage that is pictured here. It involves a lot of "thinking" first, in this case about the placement of the four dogs. I first blew up the photos that I took and then began laying them out and playing with the positions to see what would yield the most pleasing arrangement. Once I came up with a design I did my sketch up on a sheet of tracing paper so that any additional changes could be made on that and not ruin the good paper. I chose to do this drawing on Stonehenge paper and transferred my sketch to it using a sheet of graphite paper between the tracing and the Stonehenge. Then the drawing was ready to start.

I use a variety of pencils to accomplish all the shading, but my favorites are an HB, H, 2B and one that's so old that it's letters have worn off, but I think it must be something very hard like a 4H or so because it makes very light marks that are more like scratches. This actually scars the paper and when you go over it with a softer pencil like the HB hair texture appears. Just in case you don't know an HB is the familiar #2 pencil we used in school. A 2B is softer and makes a dark mark and H is hard. Starting with the harder pencils I lay in hair patterns and then build on those with softer pencils to get the texture and values right. I'm simplifying it a lot here. The process does take some time and a little patience, but if done right can create some awesome detail and depth.
Here is a little closer view of two of the Chessies. The first one is pretty much complete and I'm just getting started on the next one. In color these two have pretty much the same coat color which is called sedge or a reddish brown color. For the other two, one will be darker ( a dark brown) and one has a lighter coat (called dead grass) so the challenge will be to depict those changes in black and white so it will be obvious that they are not the same colors.
This last photo just shows my work area. I have all my reference laid out along with all my pencils. It looks a little messy and cluttered, but works pretty well for me. I will be working along on this for the next few days and will include another post before I finish. Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the process!