Watch Julie Work! - drawing of a Leopard from start to finish...



Stage 1: I have drawn the outline of the size of the picture, this helps me no end when drawing the leopard, I can see where the edges of the work will be. I then draw the outlines of the leopard, very lightly with a light HB pencil. I Map out where all the features will go, checking along the way that it all looks in the correct proportions and everything is in the right place. I have a habit of writing little notes to myself on the drawing along the way as this helps me when adding the detail, eg: "dark area" "light area" "put lots of detail here" "fade this out" etc etc. I also write little notes in the margin of blank paper around the edge to remind me of what I'm trying to acheive with each piece, for this drawing I wrote "dramatic light effect with trees out of focus in the backgound, keep the leo sharp in focus" I of course rub these out so they can't be seen on the finished drawing.

Now I begin on the detailing....



Stage 2: I start at a place I feel comfortable. This tends to change with each drawing. I don't have a set order in which I draw features, I just start where I feel like. Here I have drawn in the nose, taking care to detail the very short fur on the muzzel and around the whiskers. At this stage I usally put the drawing away for a few hours. This lets me come back to it with fresh eyes so I can see straight away if there are any mistakes (if I work on it for too long at a time I become "blind" to the errors as it all looks so familar) I work on several drawings at a time and rotate them.



Whiskers: I'm often asked how I draw whiskers. I like to draw around them very carefully, leaving the white paper showing through. Some artists use the sharp edge of an eraser to "rub out" the whiskers after they have shaded, but I find this leaves the whisker a bit grey looking as the rubber never leaves the paper completely white. I do use this technique occasionally at the end of a drawing to add in a few extra whiskers if I feel its needed.



Stage 3: I've added some background to the drawing now. This helps me to compare areas of light and dark and see where the darkest areas of the drawing will be and how light other areas are in comparison. It also starts to bring the drawing to life by making the leopard stand out from the paper. Most of the left side of the leopard is white with sunlight. The dark background makes this "jump out"



Stage 4: Most of the background is in. I can now focus on re-tracing my steps and adding to the leopards face. The dark background helps me to see where I need to lighten and darken areas to make it stand out to look as realistic as possible. I concentrate on adding finer details too, bringing out the small hairs in the coat and adding the all important eye!



Stage 5 - Eyes: After anatomical correctness and correct levels of shading, the eye is one of the most important features as its draws the viewers eye to the piece. It has to be as realistic as possible otherwise the rest of the drawing becomes "unbelievable" . I start by mapping the area that will be the white reflection in the eye. This way I can be sure to leave the paper showing through for maximum whiteness. I gradually layer the pencil on the eye, so I can easily add more if its not dark enough. I try to re-create all the little patterns in the eye (light reflections and the colours formed in the iris)




Stage 6: The finished piece - Once all the drawing work is completed I put it away for a few days and don't look at it. I then bring it out with fresh eyes and have a look for any mistakes, lack of shading or areas that need lightening and "bringing out". I also pester all my friends and family to look at it and get their opinions on anything that looks incorrect or needs more work (its always good to have a new pair of eyes look at it) Some of my work will then go to a Printers in St Ives to be professionally scanned and turned into high quality, limited edition Giclee prints. The original work is now ready for mounting and framing at my professional framers.