View Full Version : Spotted Moray WIP

09-29-2007, 09:40 PM
hi all!
this is something i've been thinking about for a while trying to come up with a decent composition. i did a few thumbnails to get an idea of what i wanted and narrowed it to these:


i liked this one the best and tweaked it a little to get the elements placed right, and to get an idea of the values. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Sep-2007/89131-morayroughsketch.jpg

from here i used the grid method to create the final sketch. i needed the moray to have a good amount of detail because i want it as accurate as possible, but i only need an outline of the rocks and coral because i'll just create the texture on them as i go. i didn't really need to shade in all the spots, but it helped to see the pattern easier. i drew a 1" grid for the sketch, but if you look closely, you'll see that i reduced it to 1/2" around the moray just because it's difficult to get all those little spots placed correctly and the smaller grid made it a lot easier.
just ignore the little burn mark...a cigarette ash went awry. :rolleyes::D


from there, i rubbed graphite on the back of my sketch and transferred it to my bristol board, being careful not to press too hard and indent the board.
once all that was done, i was able to start putting down some ink. i use the outlines for a guide and my reference pic for detailing. here's where i am so far...about 4 or 5 hours' worth of inking so far.


i used mainly stipple for the eel, but the one little piece of coral behind him was done using dave's foliage technique. doesn't look like a shrubbery, does it? :lol:


more to come...any questions or comments welcome!

09-29-2007, 10:43 PM
Wow, really looks great so far. I love the composition.

09-29-2007, 10:49 PM
Very interesting..... well done, too....:thumbsup:

09-29-2007, 11:28 PM
Wow, this is going to be a goodie!

09-30-2007, 05:01 AM
ooh, this looks good, think I will pull up a chair

09-30-2007, 05:18 AM
Looking pretty great so far.....I've just got back from a friends Stag/Bachelor Party.......so I'm in no state to be going anywhere, so keep the updates coming please!


09-30-2007, 05:26 AM
Brought the party home with ye?????:eek::lol::lol::rolleyes:

09-30-2007, 05:35 AM

09-30-2007, 05:56 AM
thanks! i want to try and show more of the process i use so maybe somebody can get some use out of it. i don't know if the way i work is "correct", but it seems to work for me, and if it helps out someone just starting out, that would be great.

ethan- need a little hair o' the dog this morning? wash down a couple aspirin with a bloody mary...you'll feel fine in no time! :lol:

09-30-2007, 10:38 AM
Wow Lenny, this is looking great. All of your in-depth planning is paying off. :clap: :thumbsup:

Val. :wave:

09-30-2007, 12:49 PM
It looks great Lenny, really... looking forward to see this unfold

09-30-2007, 01:05 PM
Lenny, you have done an amazing job on the spots, and no the rock behind does not look like a shrub...lol I'll be checking back in for updates to this one.

09-30-2007, 01:33 PM
nice wip Lenny. I did quite a bit of diving while I lived in FLA. you got this,,,,,spot on. looking forward to your final.

Ranger Dan
09-30-2007, 01:50 PM
Whoa, Lenny, NICE!!

09-30-2007, 06:41 PM
i made a little progress today...this is about another 5 or 6 hours' worth. i finished the moray for now and moved on to the elkhorn coral. i'll be going back later to tweak the values and details.
i'm using a scumble to render the coral to get a little rougher texture and shading it with stipple. i used a 3x0 rapidograph for the eel and i'm using the 2x0 for the coral (and probably everything else as well).


here's a close-up of the scumble.


the darkest values have at least 3 layers...kind of fun, actually. it's kind of like drawing stars while your hand is constantly moving. in other words, a controlled scribble! :D it definitely speeds up the dark areas! ;)

09-30-2007, 10:08 PM
and that "controlled scribble" is giving the reef, a real life look. really like this piece a lot Lenny.

10-01-2007, 10:35 AM
Oh! Yes Lenny .... it's looking fantastic:clap: :clap: The scribble works so well for the coral.

Ranger Dan
10-01-2007, 12:51 PM
I think the eel will look that much better with the different style and different sized nib on the coral. Excellent progress!!!

10-01-2007, 04:51 PM
bob and chris- thanks...glad you like it!

dan- thanks. i'm trying to show more of the "how" aspect of doing this one. i'm not an expert by any means, but maybe it'll can help out someone who's just starting out...you know, paying it forward, good karma and all that...:D;)

10-15-2007, 07:21 PM
i was finally able to make some progress over the weekend with this. it actually went pretty fast because most of it is just dark shadow. the rest of it will just be doing rock texture everywhere. i don't mind that because little boo-boos are easily hidden. just as long as they look like rocks...:lol:

i'm thinking about trying something different at the end of it for the BG...i guess we'll see how that turns out when i get to it! :D

here's where i am so far. i had to get that big black area done! (i gotta quit doing dark stuff...:rolleyes:)


here's a closeup of some coral. i switched to laying down stipple and then coming back and stippling little circles and then a little scribble for shadow.


this doesn't look as mottled in real life, but you can tell which areas have more layers of ink. i'm going to be spraying this with fixative when i'm done, so it sought to even the finish out pretty nicely.


a close up of the rocks so far...


10-15-2007, 08:29 PM
Wow - that coral just pulls your eye right down to the eel. This is great, Lenny. And, going by the grid, it's about 9x12right? Appreciate you doing it as a WIP--I'm learning lots from it. I love that scribble--I used it for some really dark foliage in a drawing I just completed and it went so quickly! I've never been able to transfer an image using the graphite method--the lines never come out dark enough to see anything. I just be doing something wrong.

Waiting for the next update...


10-15-2007, 08:55 PM
That's always the problem with the dark - it does bring out the rest - but, oh my - it takes ink and time.....:lol: But - this is coming along real good..... :thumbsup:

10-15-2007, 11:47 PM
Looking great enny - I like the different strokes for different textures, very nice!!

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Ranger Dan
10-16-2007, 02:52 AM
Covered your darks well Lenny!

I went to SeaWorld & thought of you. Bad shots and not as purty as your guy, but thought you might like 'em.

10-16-2007, 03:47 AM
Yeah - we got some good looking [??hah] ones over at the zoo.... impressive to say the least......
no question but that you have a very dynamic work here..:thumbsup:

10-16-2007, 04:47 AM
Wow ... fantastic textures here. A lot of work for you but worth every minute.:clap: :clap:

10-16-2007, 07:23 AM
susan- thanks. i was hoping the coral would do just that. hopefully the rocks on the other side will keep your eye moving around in the pic. at any rate, i'm glad you're finding something useful here. as far as transferring with graphite, all i do is get a good dark layer built up on the back of my sketch (those "ebony" drawing pencils are great for that) and use a sharp 2H pencil to trace over the sketch. i tape my sketch to my bristol board on the top so i can flip it up to see if i missed anything and flip it back down in the same place. hope that helps.

robert- thanks...darks are just plain tedious- no detail, just layer on layer on layer...i just wanted the little bits of white left to hint at the rough texture. thank god for winamp! :lol:

mel- thanks. i guess i'm not a purist. this is one area where i believe the end justifies the means. i don't mind mixing techniques or mediums to get a certain effect. for example, this will end up with some graphite work...that's all i'm saying for now! ;)

dan- boy, that's one ugly prehistoric-looking sucker right there! reminds me of that movie "the deep". i think i like shamu better...:p
i used to have a snowflake moray eel years ago when i had a marine tank. i'd hand-feed him and he got my finger more than once...man, they've got a mouthful of needles!

chris- thanks! this one is really not too bad, work-wise. the rest of it will be just improv...i mean, i'll be using my references for a guide on the rock textures, but as far as accuracy, i was only worried about the eel itself. as long as the rocks look like rocks, i'll be happy.

10-16-2007, 10:34 AM
Wow Lenny, this is looking GREAT. I love your textures. :clap: :thumbsup:

Val. :wave:

10-16-2007, 11:18 AM
Wow! Lookin good.

10-17-2007, 01:37 PM
Lenny i am not going to say Wow, rather WOW WOW WOW, stunning stuff boet, cannot wait for this to be done.

10-18-2007, 06:57 PM
Very nice work Lenny... Actually, great work... I love how alive it looks.
I think you have some guts making the darks that dark and it's giving a great result... Waiting to see more

10-24-2007, 06:22 PM
thanks, val and monica.

paul- thanks, mate...i say the same thing looking at your work!

tammam- thanks, i'm glad it's working so far. i try to get a good range of values in my work because if you want drama, you gotta push the darks! :lol:

i've been "flying by the seat of my pants" working on the rocks...and it's taking me a little longer than i figured, probably because i have to stop and look at what i've done and go back and mess with it some more, etc. etc...:rolleyes: you know how it goes sometimes!
anyway, here's about 4 or 5 hours more into it. not a whole lot more done, but it's getting there.


and a close-up of the bottom left which is where all the fun has been happening...:D


10-24-2007, 07:55 PM
Very interesting. I'm really liking this!


10-24-2007, 10:50 PM
Looking really great Lenny. I love the light and shade you are creating -- it's awesome. :clap: :thumbsup:

Val. :wave:

10-25-2007, 12:45 AM
Yer stippling is just terrific!! no other ways about it!!:thumbsup::thumbsup:

Ranger Dan
10-25-2007, 10:58 AM
I'm with Robert on this!

10-25-2007, 06:47 PM
hey, a little nostalgia today! i was going through some old images and i found the very first version i did of the eel. it was done with a little japanese drawing program called oekaki. i used to spend almost as much time on it as i do on stippling. i think this took me about 4 or 5 hours to do and this is the actual size.


if you'd like to see the other pics i did with oekaki (called "scribblerz" on the site i did them on) click here (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v473/mudboy/scribblerz/)

10-27-2007, 02:33 AM
I have to say, this is brilliant work. I can actually feel the textures on this one.

10-28-2007, 03:23 PM
This is going to be stunning. I appreciate all the work you have put into it so far.

10-29-2007, 08:37 PM
back again!
thanks nick and charissa- glad you like it so far. i got a little more done over the weekend when i could. i was busy having an anniversary/halloween cookout for us and some friends whose anniversary is the day before ours...we all ate too much, drank too much and had a pretty good time in spite of the northeaster that's been blowing all weekend. i liked it myself...it felt like air conditioning outside! :thumbsup:
anyway, i managed to get the rest of the rocks done along the bottom. i bet i put about 5 or 6 layers down trying to get the values dark enough to my eye and still keeping some detail and texture there. i think it looks okay for now, but i might need to go over it again to strengthen the shadows once i get the right side done.


here's a close-up...


c and c welcome as always!

10-29-2007, 08:50 PM
Just keeps getting better......:thumbsup:

10-30-2007, 05:38 AM
Mud this is the best piece I have seen on P&I for a long time, beautiful

10-30-2007, 08:28 AM
robert- thanks!

paul- i don't know about that, but i appreciate it anyway! one thing i can say is that like always, it's a lot of fun and a little amazing to watch a piece come together. i'm always glad to be done because i don't have to worry about screwing it up anymore! :lol:
the rocks on the right are going to be a challenge, i think. there's a lot of really rough textures and a lot of shadows and little holes and niches to do. i'll be starting in on it today after work. wish me luck! :D

i need to get some copies done as well so i can work on my idea for the BG. hopefully i can get it the way i want it with out too many tries...i'm a lazy artist! :rolleyes::p

10-30-2007, 11:00 AM
Wow, Lenny, this is really amazing.

11-11-2007, 09:49 PM
almost done with the inking. doing the rocks has been challenging and pretty satisfying just because aside from a basic layout, they've been done on the fly. i tried to keep in mind my light source and just built the rocks literally dot by dot. the hardest part was to keep in mind that every little bump and valley has its own structure and has its own form and affects the one next to it. one bump is easy to render...a hundred is a bit harder! :lol:

the way i work helped the process, i think. i usually lay down a light "first wash" of stipple and build values from that. using that first wash, i really just played "connect the dots" to build the rock texture from the little patterns that emerge in the stipple, if that makes sense. anyway, i hope to be done with the inking tomorrow so i can start on the graphite background. i have a unique idea i want to try and hopefully it'll work. we'll see!


11-12-2007, 10:21 AM
Lenny, this is looking fantastic!

Ranger Dan
11-12-2007, 10:28 AM
Can't wait to see the results Lenny. Judging from how the rest is going I would say the graphite will work more than well.

11-12-2007, 11:05 AM
Yeah - just keeps getting better and better....:thumbsup::thumbsup:

11-12-2007, 11:09 AM
Wow ... just awesome inking Lenny:clap: :clap: :clap:

11-12-2007, 11:53 AM
I really like your final rough sketch pencil drawing. Do you do much in the way on pencil work?

11-12-2007, 01:43 PM
Looking really good!!!! Can't wait to see the finished painting!

11-12-2007, 06:30 PM
monica- thanks! i'm glad you think so!

dan- thanks, bud. i hope the graphite does work well. i've been hinting around it trying to build some suspense...:p i will say this- my idea involves using powdered graphite and masking. i'm looking for a certain effect for the BG, and i think my idea just might work! i know one thing- i'll be practicing on a copy first! ;):D

robert- thanks a lot and congrats on your show! i would ask you how much you made, but i'm a little more tactful than that! (contrary to what my wife might tell you...:p)

chris- thanks to you, too! i hope i don't mess it up now!

continental- thanks. i've been trying to work on my composition skills, which aren't the greatest. and no, i don't do much pencil work except for sketching, but i want to try my hand at it after seeing some of the awesome work posted in the drawing forum, especially the portraiture. some of those guys do beautiful work! (even if it isn't ink!)

bergere- thanks- it won't be long now! (thank god!):lol:

11-12-2007, 07:41 PM
made enough to cover for the weekend car rental......;)

11-12-2007, 07:54 PM
Lenny, this is totally awesome -- stunning inkwork and composition. I just want to keep looking at it and oohing and aahing. :clap: :thumbsup:

Val. :wave:

11-12-2007, 07:59 PM
Lenny this is brilliant!! you are a stipple genius!! Love the different textures you have achieved.

11-12-2007, 10:13 PM
Looking really good, even better IRL I imagine.:clap:


11-13-2007, 07:08 AM
robert- good answer! :lol:

val and elaine- you ladies are too kind! i'm glad you like it...and thanks for the shot of ego this morning! :p:D g'day!

chris- yeah, i think it does look better IRL, but the digital images help me see places that need tweaking...wierd, huh? thanks and g'day to you too! :D

11-13-2007, 02:30 PM
Wow Lenny I almost missed this one; really great techniques being used in this!!!!:clap: :clap:

11-14-2007, 01:13 AM
man, that baby looks lifelike, and Ive seen em in too!(actually had one chase my ass all over the bottom of the Atlantic, that tank of air went quick):D really nice values.

11-14-2007, 02:36 AM
Wow Lenny, this is really wonderful. I almost missed this thread too, I didn't know the meaning of moray so I didn't enter, how stupid ...
It is one of the best ink drawings I've ever seen. I'm glad I finally looked the thread. Congratulations.

11-14-2007, 06:30 AM
tammy- thanks. i've been trying to explain what i've been doing so maybe someone will get some use from this WIP sometime. plus it helps me to think about what i'm doing as well. glad you like it!

bob- i'd hate to have a full grown one chase MY ass! i saw a video not too long ago of a guy who had his thumb TAKEN OFF by one that was about 4 feet long or so. the one i used to have in my marine tank was about 16-18 inches and he opened my finger up once when i was feeding him...they ain't no joke! :lol:

dolors- i'm glad you found your way here and i'm glad you enjoyed it. muchas gracias! :wave:

the inking is done! whew! now i just need to make sure my BG idea will work out the way i'm seeing it in my head. once i start on it, it should go pretty quick because there's not a lot of it to do. sorry for the mediocre pic- my scanner is down right now, but i should have it back up shortly.


11-14-2007, 07:44 AM
wow this is simply fantastic, well done boet a superb job.

11-20-2007, 06:39 PM
i'm calling this baby finished! it's not exactly what i had in mind, but it's pretty close. using powdered graphite is a little different to say the least. what i was originally thinking of was applying it with a brush to get the light effect through the water. i found out that doesn't work too well on paper with no tooth. what i ended up doing was applying it with a bit of cloth in little circles to get a smooth gradient and then using a kneaded eraser to get the light rays, and then burnishing lightly with the graphite cloth to soften the lines a bit. i'm fairly happy with the results...not ecstatic, but it's not bad, i think.

i still need a name for it if anybody has any ideas! :D


larger view here (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v473/mudboy/morayfinal.jpg)

11-20-2007, 07:30 PM
VERY nice!! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Love the using the eraser to getting the light rays...... very effective.....

[too bad this isn't the one on the card, huh.......:eek::rolleyes:]

11-20-2007, 08:10 PM
i'm fairly happy with the results...not ecstatic, but it's not bad, i think.

What's up with this statement? You're kidding right? This piece is absolutely gorgeous!!!! In fact, your work makes mine look like the picture I have inserted below. Sheesh!

11-20-2007, 08:38 PM
[too bad this isn't the one on the card, huh.......:eek::rolleyes:]

it COULD be...i haven't mailed them off yet! ;)

eternity- lol i was referring to the background...:lol: thanks!

11-20-2007, 09:04 PM
well, ye COULD always call it - "Heeeeerrrrreeee's Johnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy!":lol::lol::rolleyes:
[or - "You were expecting Sherman Perhaps?"
how about - "I Vant to be ALONE!!"] :rolleyes:

[yes - there IS something funny about the water here....:lol:]

Ranger Dan
11-20-2007, 09:28 PM
OK Len, how about 'Deep Retreat'? I like the effect. Gives a good sense of depth.

11-20-2007, 09:35 PM
well, ye COULD always call it - "Heeeeerrrrreeee's Johnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy!":lol::lol::rolleyes:

now THAT'S funny! :thumbsup:

dan- that ain't bad. maybe i should have a little contest here...winner gets a print for christmas? ;)

11-20-2007, 10:12 PM
Wow! this is fantastic! What's not to be ecstatic about?!! Last time I came to this forum, you had just posted the thumbnails. It has really come a long way.
And it shows how long I've been away from this forum. It will take a long time for me to catch up on what everyone has been doing.


11-20-2007, 10:52 PM
Great work! I think that you did a great job with the graphite, and all of your textures look so realistic. I wish I had a good name for you, but all I can think of is "Big Scary Fish". I know, coming up with names ain't my strong point.

11-21-2007, 02:05 AM
Yes I agree with Lenny, its not that good as I am totally upset that its not mine, wow Lenny fantastic piece and I think the water is brilliantly handled (even though its not ink). Do yourself a favor, before deciding what to do with it, that is put it away for a week then take it out again and you will realize how stunning this piece is, you have just spent too much time with it and as the old saying goes "familiarity breeds contempt". A great piece and it gets my award for 2007.

11-21-2007, 04:46 AM
Perfecto:clap: :clap: :clap: The lighting in the background is wonderful. Everything is wonderful. Awesome job Lenny ... it's been a privilage to watch this come to life:clap: :clap:

11-21-2007, 06:16 AM
steff- yeah, it has been a while on this one. i should have been finished with this a long time ago, but i work better when i'm not forcing it.
and yes, you've been away too long!

nick-thanks! i tried to keep the textures varied and consistent. i'm pretty happy with the rockpile on the right just because i just did it. it was one of those "in the zone" things- you know what i mean? once it got going, it just flowed. hey- when are we going to see some more aircraft pics? i love that stuff!

paul- i know what you mean about looking at it too much. i think i spend almost as much time standing back and studying a piece as i do inking it! :lol:
i'm always so anxious about messing something up that i have to really think about what i'm going to do before i do it, especially getting towards the end! i was REALLY anxious using the powdered graphite. all it takes is one fingerprint on the paper and it'll stick out like a sore thumb. i did a half a dozen practice pieces, trying it on plain paper, paper sprayed with fixative, tried it with a brush and with tissue and finally got it looking close to what i wanted before i even thought about touching the original, and then hoped to god i hadn't stuck my thumb on it somewhere...but the hardest part was keeping the light rays straight...light isn't curvy!:p

chris- thank you very much! i'm glad you like it! i'm also glad it's finally done! :D

Terry G.
11-21-2007, 09:56 AM
well guess i can hang up my fish drawing ink pens now, i've been out done!!.

congrats dude , some fine work there...

11-21-2007, 10:13 AM
Wow, what can I say that hasn't already been said? You've outdone yourself. :D I really like the graphite background, it adds a lot to the piece.

11-21-2007, 01:46 PM
well guess i can hang up my fish drawing ink pens now, i've been out done!!.

you better not! after all, a moray is a loooooong way from a red bass! ;):D

thanks, monica. heh- i don't think i could have stippled that BG...:lol:

11-22-2007, 07:17 PM
Lenny, this is absolutely superb. I've so enjoyed following it from beginning to end, and it has got my Merit Point. Your work is really top drawer. My take on a title is "Come Down and See Me Sometime". :clap: :clap: :clap:

Val. :wave:

11-22-2007, 08:14 PM
wow, thanks val! i don't know what that does for me, but i appreciate it nonetheless!

...and that title isn't bad either! it's gonna be hard to top "big scary fish" though...:lol::p

11-24-2007, 06:34 PM
well, i've had a positive experience with this piece already! i went to get some prints done up today, and while i was waiting, a couple came up to get some prints of some their son's work. we started chatting about art and prints and what-not (of course i steered them to WC! :cool:), and after a few minutes, the lady brought the first print for me to check over. the couple looked at it and really liked it. they said their son liked diving and fishing, so i gave them one of the prints. the man insisted on paying me for it, so i ended up making 20 bucks for a print that was barely dry! man, you never know, eh? hopefully this is an omen of good times ahead! :D

11-24-2007, 07:38 PM
Well, that is one terrific rendering - should be a best seller in no time...:thumbsup:

11-24-2007, 07:43 PM
great job! I agree that this is one of the best in the P&I forum....it has such depth and the textures are stunning--a best seller for sure!!

11-26-2007, 03:25 PM
Nice finish Lenny. The depth you created works really really well. Not surprised you got cash on day 1, hope that success continues.

"hey, you talkin to me"?

11-26-2007, 05:04 PM
thanks, guys, i appreciate it. unfortunately sales aren't booming. nothing's booming...(well, in construction, anyway...i don't know about the REAL world!:p)anyway, i was hitting a few shops today trying to peddle some prints, and one lady pretty much summed it up- "the economy sucks! i'm not buying anything right now!"

on to the next shop...:rolleyes::D

11-26-2007, 05:24 PM
That was beautifully done! :thumbsup:

11-26-2007, 06:13 PM
well, there's always the tin cup.....:eek::lol: - and bet ye get more for yer prints than for a pencil......:lol::lol::rolleyes:

11-26-2007, 06:43 PM
don't forget the dark glasses and the white cane with the red tip...makes a nice touch...:lol:

11-26-2007, 10:03 PM
Yeah - a guy selling prints from a tin cup - and he's blind...:eek:.. great touch...:lol::lol::lol:

11-27-2007, 03:05 AM
Don't worry Lenny my total income this year, doing just art, equals what I used to make in one day last year doing other things. Wife not pleased.

11-27-2007, 06:02 AM
wow, paul...you either haven't sold much or you used to make a lot of money in a day! which is it? :lol:

i wish i could afford to do nothing but art, but i have an aversion to living in a box! i should have started doing this 20 years ago when life was still fresh...maybe i COULD be living off of it by now. who knows? oh, well. i'm having fun with it now. that's what matters, i suppose. :D

11-27-2007, 10:45 AM
Yes - that line of the book - 'do what ye love, the rest will follow' sounds good..... but - WHEN will it follow??!:lol::lol::lol: