Saturday, 25 July 2020

My Journey Drawing Tigers (Part One)

Hello again! Today, I want to try something a little different. As you know I'm an eager artist, mostly for birds, but I'm trying to broaden into other wildlife, starting with big cats. While I'm by no means an expert, I do consider myself more than a beginner, and there does seem to be a vaccuum for those at this skill level.

What I mean by that is- while in many areas I'm very much a beginner, and even professional artists go back to the fundamentals once in a while to keep their skills sharp- it can be difficult to see what to work on to move on from the simple stages. Looking at other artists's studies also doesn't feel helpful, as often you see near-perfect finished studies rather than the mistakes and steps needed to get there.

So, I want to document my journey learning how to draw tigers. I want to show the errors and mistakes that many artists can be shy to show, and also try to point out areas where I can improve for next time. In doing this, not only will this help guide my eye to mistakes and hopefully help yours too, but I also want to show that art is so much more than the finished final product.

To start with, I'm going to go way back to when I was in school (not medical school!), in the last 90s. These were the first tigers I drew:

 Perhaps not bad for the age I was, but now they look pretty deformed!

It may seem harsh that I'm critiquing these pictures when I was so young, but I mean to crit them to my current skill, not the skill I was then. Looking at this early drawings, we can easily see what's lacking, and what needs work....

1. Anatomy- the first tiger in particular has no concept of this! There is no structure for bone, muscle, or anything, and I clearly didn't know how any of the pieces attached to each other. All the proportions are also wrong. The stripes don't follow any contour, the face is asymmetrical, and the background has no relation to the tiger itself.

2. Perspective- kinda obvious this would be all wrong given that the anatomy is so weak, but there's no way of telling where the tiger is sitting in space, which direction it's heading in, and where we're viewing it from.

3. Form- the second picture in particular has a lack of visible form- it looks like an amorphous blob! The shading on both pictures is basically non existent so I won't comment too much on the shading and colouring. The second photo I also drew from a reference, but clearly I didn't understand what I was seeing. However it does look quite a bit more like a tiger than the first image, which was done from imagination.

Thus, from this, it's been very helpful to deduce some fundamentals that need to be understood before drawing a tiger:

-anatomy, to understand how the body parts connect, how big they are in relation to each other, and how they move together

-perspective, to understand where you are viewing a form in space, and how proportions change depending on the angle something is seen from

-form, to understand how things exist in 3D space and how light and shadow affect how we perceive it

Now we skip ahead to 2007 years (yes quite a skip!), and this is the next tiger I attempted:



So although this is technically a fanart of the white tiger Driger from the anime Beyblade, it's still a tiger, so let's see how we're doing.

1. Anatomy- immediately this is a huge step up from the first drawings! Everything is a lot more in proportion, and things connect much better. I can't recall exactly but I think I did use a reference for this. A few things are still not quite right- the paws are not equal, the tail is too thin, the back ear is too far back, the nose is too long and the jaw is too small- but it 'reads' tiger much more than the older drawings.

2. Perspective- better than the older drawings, for sure, but this is more a part of the pose being more straightfoward than me understanding it. The paws in particular aren't in perspective and neither is the head. The 'crown' is also uneven.

3. Form- again much better than before, it does look more '3D' but there's no shading here so can't really comment on that.

The learning points:

-work on proportions

-make sure the whole form has the same perspective applied

Then we skip ahead to 2018, where I'd had quite the break from drawing animals...



1. Anatomy- another step up from before, as this time I was using a reference, and had been using references for other drawings so I was more familiar with how to use them. The head shape is much more accurate, along with how it joins the neck. The pose however is more tricky, so the front ear is a bit off, as is the 'scrunching' of the nose.

2. Perspective- this is slightly weaker once more, as for this drawing I was operating under the phenomenon of 'free drawing'- this is where you draw lines as you see them, rather than constructing a form first and adding details. It's where you keep looking to a reference and try to 'judge' where the lines should go (instead of, say, creating a sphere or circle and then building lines on that).

3. Form- so this picture is coloured with coloured pencil, I medium I really don't get at all (I still colour like I did when I was 6 years old), so there's essentially no shading here. Practically impossible to tell the light source, but that's also a fault of my lack of skill with the medium.

So the tips from here:

-try to draw using construction shapes, not free-lining

-keep perspective in mind

-perhaps one day learn how to use coloured pencils (lol!)

I'm going to end part one here, as otherwise this will go on and on! Part Two will delve into my most recent drawings, all from 2020, so you can continue to see how much progress can be made in such a relatively short period of time!