My Journey Drawing Tigers (Part Two)

August 01, 2020 maddoctorartist 0 Comments

Welcome back, to Part Two of my journey drawing tigers!

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.

Click here for Part One to see my early steps (from the late 90s to 2018)

My next tiger was from Inktober 2019...

So on the surface this doesn't look bad, but on closer inspection there are a few errors still- another result of free-drawing from a reference and not reconstructing the pieces to make sure things are aligned/ in proportion/ perspective:

1. Anatomy- while the tiger's head is more tiger-shaped than previous, there is a lot of asymmetry- the eyes aren't aligned or the same side, nor are the ears, the neck and shoulders look like guess-work, and the stripes are just drawn randomly with no thought about the skull contours.

2. Perspective- the limbs are very out of proportion, and the ear placement is also wrong. Where the head and neck join also looks strange. 

3. Form- as this is an unshaded drawing I can't comment on this much, but the contours of stripes and fur definitely don't match the underlying structure.

The tips from here:

-need to see/ learn a tiger's skull to know what contours form at which places

-try to think about the anatomy of the limbs before applying perspective to it

-pay attention to symmetry to help proportions

Moving on now to this year, January 2020:

1. Anatomy- so I did practice anatomy for birds during this period, and had practiced drawing from reference. I had my own reference photo for this tiger, so I was able to create a much better rendition. The proportions are far better and make consistent sense, and there's an actual background as well! The ears are still a bit too big, and the front leg and spine aren't completely accurate.

2. Perspective- this is also a lot more consistent, especially in regard to the head. This is because I constructed the head first, rather than free drawing it. As a result it looks far more symmetrical.

3. Form- this is in regard to the ink drawing, as this is shaded. Much easier to see the light and shadows here (I'm far better with ink than coloured pencil!), though the shadowing on the legs furthest away could possibly be darker. The cast shadow on the grass also helps ground the tiger, though it could be better given where the light source is.

The tips from here:

-do some more anatomy studies to really understand the tiger's shape

The next drawing is from April 2020:

1. Anatomy- For the graphite drawing, this is much more accurate, especially the head and shoulders and limbs. The jaw and nose are a bit small still, but most things are in proportion. The body may be a bit too long as well.

2. Perspective- The face and nose is a bit off, but the rest looks more consistent.

3. Form- For the graphite drawing, the shading is a bit mixed- there's no clear light source especially in regard to the head, so it doesn't look as 3D as it should.

However for the colour picture...a lot more falls down here! This is a great example of how colour can ruin a picture if you don't understand values and light source, which is something I definitely need to work on.

-the shading in general is too soft, so it's not really making the form look 3D

-the colouring also seemed to distort the face anatomy- the nose and eye are now far too small and not in proportion

-the lighting is a bit variable- there are highlights in area of shadow on the belly and rear leg, and the front leg has too much light, given that the light source should be from above
So, let's move on to the next tiger, drawn in early July 2020...

1. Anatomy- not much to comment on here as it's consistent and in proportion.  The raised paw could possibly be a bit improved in shape. The legs are also a bit too long.

2. Perspective- the tiger's head was in a strange perspective here, but I think I captured it fairly well. The placement of the ears I feel particularly proud of!

3. Form- quite a step up from the previous digitally coloured drawing, with a more consistent light source, deeper shadows and better values.The front legs however have too much highlight, and the colour choice for highlight could possibly have been matched better.

The tips here are now more to do with colour than form, which just goes to show how much you can improve, especially with reference photos and knowing how to construct shapes!

And now to the latest tigers I've drawn, this one from 23rd July 2020:

1. Anatomy- now this was a challenging pose perspective, but thanks to all my prior learning, I was able to pull it off!

2. Perspective- I had to re-draw the head several times before I finally got this right. The nose and nose bridge shading is slightly off still, but using the base construction helped me place almost everything correctly.

3. Form- I used fairly light ink here so the form isn't as defined as it could be, but there is still visible light and shadow.

And thus, with all this learning behind me, it culminated in my latest piece:


So, having probably been fed up of hearing about tigers now, here are my main learning points. This can be applied to any subject you want to draw:

A. Understand anatomy. This means understanding the tiger skeleton, how the bones are able to fit and move, and how they join up together. This also means understanding proportion, so how big body parts are in relation to each other, and how to measure them (I usually use 'heads'- so take the head width and measure the body using this as a unit).

B. Understand perspective. This means knowing where you're viewing something, and how to construct simply 3D geometric forms to get the angles correct.

C. Understand form. Knowing the 3D shape helps guide where light and shadow fall, along with keeping a consistent light source.

D. Have good references! But at the same time, don't wholly rely on them. Without understanding of anatomy and perspective, photos can deceive you, as camera lens and angle of the shot can affect the former, so even though you're drawing what you see, it's not how the form works.

While these aren't by any means all you need to know (I've missed out colour theory, value, composition, and a whole host of other fundamentals), but it can be overwhelming to tackle everything at once, so it's good to improve in a few areas first before moving on to the rest.

I hope this walk through of my art has been helpful- if so let me know! Is there anything you've been trying to learn to draw?

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