Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Elephant No. 317: Pencil Drawing

I suddenly realized a couple of days ago that I have yet to do a completed drawing with simple lead pencil for this blog, so I thought I'd try that for today's elephant.

I've described both pencils and graphite before, so I'll just describe the process for today's post.

I pulled out the same selection of pencils that I used for my carbon dust experiment. Then I decided that I would rather try using just a mechanical pencil with a fine HB lead. For erasers, I used a plain plastic eraser and a kneadable eraser.

I thought I should work from a photograph today. This is the photograph I chose.

Asian elephant.
Source: http://opioids.com/heroin/junky-elephant.html

I started by making a light outline sketch. This was actually a weird elephant to draw. The upturned trunk and the turned-in foot were a bit challenging, but I figured I'd fudge them somehow if they looked too bizarre.

Once I thought I had a good enough basic shape, I started adding shading. I started with the head, since it had the greatest number of planes, lines and shadows to play with.


I was originally going to smudge some of the shading. Since I was using a mechanical pencil, however, I thought it would be better if I used a cross-hatching technique for the shading instead. Cross-hatching also works well for the criss-crossing wrinkles on an elephant's body.

I thought briefly about filling in most of the elephant, but the brightest areas of the elephant are so light that I concentrated on filling in shadows and adding a suggestion of wrinkles instead.

To finish up, I used a little trick I taught myself at some point along the way—although I'm sure it must be an established technique. I find that, if you add fine, dark lines as accents in some of the darkest shadows and along outlines, it gives the drawing a bit of a pop and a sense of movement and life. I may be the only one who thinks that, but it's a technique I like enough that I included it here.

This drawing took me about an hour, and I had to stop myself to keep from overworking it. To be honest, I rarely use pencil for anything than a beginning sketch. In fact, my one drawing teacher thought I was so bad at artistic drawing that she suggested I switch to abstract painting or art history.

I don't know if she'd think I was any better today, but I'm actually rather pleased with this.

Elephant Lore of the Day
Although many people know that elephants like music, most people think that they prefer classical music to anything else. Elephants at the West Midland Safari Park in England, however, have very different musical tastes.

To improve elephant behaviour during feeding and bathing, staff began playing music. And, while running through their iPod repertoires, they made an interesting discovery: elephants like heavy metal. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Metallica and Def Leppard instantly calm teenage elephants in particular. Three male African elephants—Jack, Lataba and Five—will actually throw tantrums and begin pacing up and down as soon as the blaring rock anthems are turned off.

Keepers at other zoos have discovered that classical music—particularly Beethoven's Fifth Symphony—have an equally calming effect, reducing behaviours such as swaying, trunk-tossing and pacing. But at West Midland Safari Park, rock rules.

Keepers are surprised that head-banging music calms elephants, and have suggested that the music may remind their charges of the noises of the jungle. I'm willing to bet, however, that it has more to do with the heavy rhythmical vibrations, which likely recall the vibrations by which elephants "hear" in the wild.

Zookeepers at West Midland Safari Park play heavy metal music to calm teenage elephants, 2008.
Photo: © Caters News Agency Ltd.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1090164/Wild-things-

To Support Elephant Welfare
Elephant sanctuaries (this Wikipedia list allows you to click through to information
on a number of sanctuaries around the world)


  1. oh this picture is just picture perfect.. What a great job! Keep us posted dear as I would love to see more of your work.

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