zaterdag 16 juni 2012

Setting up a drawing of Koi fish

I've been itching to start a new drawing for a while now and was trying to decide on a subject. I decided to look through all the photographs I have on my laptop and came across one I'd taken of some Koi fish vying for food in a pond in Dierenpark Amersfoort (a zoo here in The Netherlands), during a visit there in 2005.

I thought this would make a great subject for a drawing and one which would provide me with an opportunity to play with lots of colour - always good fun! This drawing will be more about getting the colours right then capturing accurate detail and should prove a real challenge, particularly where the surface of the water is concerned. Let's see if I can rise to that challenge!

Having picked out just the right photo I sent the file off to be printed. I chose to have it enlarged to 30 x 45 cm, so I'd have clear detail to work from and could place a good-sized grid over it to simplify enlarging it into a drawing on even larger paper. Am I being clear? - probably not! - but you'll see what I mean as I go along!

I waited, somewhat impatiently, for my photo to be printed and delivered to our local supermarket, where we could pick it up. It only takes a couple of days, but when I'm waiting to get started with the drawing of a once-decided-upon subject, 2 days feels like forever. I'm not the most patient person in the world once I've decided something! Anyway, Saturday arrived and the photo was ready to be picked up. I couldn't wait to open the envelope...yes, this was gonna be a good one (I hope! - no pressure, don't you laugh if it doesn't work out!).

I have a slightly primitive but very effective method of getting drawings from photos to scale on a large piece of paper. As I said, my photo was 30 x 45cm (approx. 11.8 x 17.7 inches) and I was intending to make a drawing with a decent margin on a piece of paper which was 80 x 60 cm (approx. 31.5 x 23.62 inches).

I also have a grid with 6 cm (approx. 2.36 inch) squares drawn on a large piece of clear cellophane.

I took the cellophane and wrapped it around the photo, so that the squares lined up with the edges of the photo. This left a column of partial squares to the right of the photo which I will leave out of the drawing. My image will therefore be 7 squares x 5 squares in total.

In this close-up you can see the grid lines on the cellophane covering the photo.

The next step is to draw 8.5 cm (approx. 3.35 inch) squares on my large piece of paper. I draw 8.5cm squares (7 x 5), centering them on the paper. My grid is 59.5 x 42.5 cm (approx 23.43 x 16.73 inches).

Here's the sum to centre the grid:
80-59.5 = 20.5, divided by 2 for the margins left and right = 10.25 cm
60-42.5 = 17.5, divided by 2 for margins at the top and bottom = 8.75 cm.

To clarify:
left and right margins are 10.25 cm (4.04 inches)
top and bottom margins are  8.75 cm (3.44 inches)
7 squares across of 8.5 cm (3.35 inches)
5 squares down of 8.5 cm (3.35 inches).

Voila! The grid is ready, the drawing can begin. Getting the drawing all mapped out is a bit of pain I admit, but it's vitally important to get things right, otherwise the proportions won't be correct and the drawing a disappointment. Remember: luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity! And with any luck (and a little preparation) this drawing might just work out!

Again, I'm keeping a list of the time I take to complete the drawing. I just like to do this for the record, as once a drawing is finished I'm always asked how long it took and can never remember without keeping proper track.

I'll also keep a list of the colours I use once I get started. More about that later. 

At this stage, as I mentioned, the drawing could begin. I sketch in the outlines of each fish, using a 2B pencil, following the lines on the grid over the photo.  This ensures that everything is in it's place and the correct size.

After 2 hours and 35 minutes I've completed the sketch. Time to take out my much loved box of Derwent Artists coloured pencils and onto the next stage... let's see if I can capture those fish!

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