In a moment you’ll meet my new work in progress, but first, I wanted to show you some of the process I went through to make this illustration work. Some of you might know about collecting reference to work from, such as clippings from a magazine or taking pictures of a person posing, but sometimes you can’t rely on a picture of a person or even, well an elephant alone. So sculpting something to get the general idea is a good thing. See below: Blue car borrowed from my nephew (Yes, it’s a “Cars” car), rough elephant made of sculpey, with paper and fabric additions. Making a 3-D mockup (sometimes called a maquette)  helps figure out things like shadows. Now, since I’ve been drawing for a long time, sure I could guess and I have a general idea about how the shadows would fall, but shooting a mock-up really helps pick up those little details I might not have thought of like how the shadow falls from the ear or from the opera glasses.

MS suggested I shoot a toy elephant too. I can’t pose this thing, but it will help give me more detailed information for the head. Mind you also that this is an African elephant. I’m drawing an Asian elephant, so I have to adjust my drawing based on plain old photos I’ve found off the web. As a side note, the other day we made a special trip to the hobby shop to get one and then he was like: “Wait a minute. I have one at home.” Duh!

Here is one of my preliminary sketches. Notice how flat I was making the car. MS pointed it out right away, but I’d like to think I would have noticed too after having seen my photo reference, as it’s obvious that you can see the top of the car.

And here’s the latest sketch after using my photo reference. I’ve worked some things out. Still in progress though (only about half done). I need good cumulus cloud reference and I might have to shoot more reference for the sheep. We’ll see. Still have to peg down the landscape too.


As you can see it’s not about copying, but using the reference as a guide. I was inspired to do this piece partly by all the lambs in Ireland. Those bushes will be Whin which can be seen all over the place there. They are pretty and prickly too!

Last but not least, it’s the end of April! One spring themed free embroidery pattern for you to enjoy! Download PDF here. I don’t know about you, but I am itching to plant some flowers soon!

Enjoy and see you next time!

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