Author: onlineart, Contributing Editor
For this demonstration, I will attempt to paint a lioness in a warm evening setting. Well, that's the plan anyway. We'll just have to wait until the end to see if I reach my goals or not. I hope there's not so much detail in this demo that it bores you to tears, but we animal artists are usually detail freaks, so I've put everything in.
Ok, on to the first step.
|After deciding on the composition and size, I sketch the major lines, paying particular attention to getting the proportions correct by constantly comparing one part of the lioness with another (you can still just see my measuring lines on the head).
Notice that I have written myself several notes. I find that I generally get ideas for the painting stage as I draw, so I frequently use the area around the sketch to write notes and ideas as reminders for later use.
Here the notes remind me to -
Put more detail on the head than anywhere else.
Leave a bit more room above the head compared to the front foot.
Soften the rear off to help bring more attention to the head.
I have drawn the lioness the full size that I want the finished painting to be, so that I can use the tracing/transferring method below.
|After the drawing is completed I trace over the top, then I turn the tracing over and go over the lines on the reverse (above). With the graphite now on the back of the tracing I can go over the lines once again, this time the right way around with the canvas/board underneath. This transfers the sketch over to the board ensuring no mistakes. I could have drawn straight on the board but I find my sketches always turn out much better on smooth paper.|
|To prepare the already gessoed canvas I tone it with a thin mixture of Burnt and Raw Sienna Acrylic paint. This seals the transferred drawing and will stop it from smudging when overpainted with oil paint. A toned canvas will also allow me to see the lights and darks more easily than on a white base.
With the acrylic dry I can now switch to using oil paints. I paint in the darkest darks using Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber i.e. - the eyes, nose, mouth and claws. I paint these darks in right at the start because I want to make rich, deep darks and this would have been very difficult if I already had lighter paint underneath it.
|With the darks established I now begin to block in the basic colours. The accuracy of the colours are not really important at this stage, I am much more interested in getting the values correct. On the left hand side of the canvas you can see that I am still writing myself little reminders for later. Even now after just 30 mins of painting you can see a solid base beginning and this will give me a good platform on which I can add the details and textures.|