All posts tagged animals

Beaver Rotation

Three beaver from the book Porcupine in a Pine Tree

On the Third Day of Christmas my true love gave to me….Three Beaver Tails!

Beaver Tails?  I’m sure it was those tasty treats that are made in Ottawa and not anything from those busy dam or tree building creatures.

It actually makes me want to have one right now!

But since it’s beaver I thought it would be good to share how  I draw them.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the video  How to draw Beaver  but I hope you will read on as I share a few helpful tips.

 

Step 1: use reference

Look at beaver in pictures or on video.  Your character can end up quite different but it helps to study the real animal.

I’ve even drawn their skeletons.  The look like monsters. In fact at one time they were a lot bigger and probably acted like monsters.

Beaver Skeleton

Beaver skeletons look like monsters.

Step 2: Doodle 

This is the fun part.

 

Beaver sketch

It’s good to just doodle loosely to get a feeling of your characters without worrying about details or even whether or not they will be the final ones.

 

beaver studies in colour

It’s fun to throw colour on your doodles to explore what is possible.

Step 3: Construction advice

Construction advice on how to draw a beaver

Always start from the simple and build to the final. It’s like constructing anything.

 

It’s good to turn your characters to see them from all sides. Remember to Keep It Simple, Silly and not worry how great it is.  It’s better to do more and explore than a few and be critical of your work.

If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.

Enjoy Drawing Beaver!

How to draw a Beaver video

Screenshot from how to draw a beaver

 

 

I love Christmas trees.  It’s not secret either that I love trees.  But at this time of the year it’s special to bring a tree into the house and dress it up with beautiful decorations.

Our Christmas Tree

I drew our Christmas Tree last year.

That’s why it’s been fun to put Christmas trees into my illustrations.

The Porcupine series by Helaine Becker has given me a lot of chances to decorate in pictures.

Pine tree at the end of A Porcupine In a Pine Tree.

Not sure if you can call this a Christmas Tree, but it definitely got decorated at the end of A Porcupine In A Pine Tree

 

I had great fun with beavers busily putting a tree together in Deck the Halls.  It can’t be easy but they never gave up.  I guess there’s a lesson in that.


The tree they build is a bit different.

 

But in the end it looks pretty good, I’d say.   Maybe you be the judge….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things going up

 

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Beaver from Deck the Halls

 

Sometimes things get out of hand

beaver building the knocked down tree

Never let a setback no matter how big or small hold you back!

Beaver building tree

Things are really starting to look good

 

Puffins help decorate

Puffins help with the lights.Wonder who the garbage can is for? Possibly the Raccoons?

 

Lit up Tree

A Beaver Christmas Tree from the Deck the Halls by Helaine Becker.

And one last tree from Dashing Through the Snow, also by Helaine.

The Christmas Tree in Dashing Through The Snow

Another special Tree from Dashing Through the Snow

Enjoy drawing your tree, or any tree! They’re all beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

small carved Caribou from George River

Drawing the Caribou

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: two caribou.

That would have been interesting around the house!

Caribou are very pretty.  They are the cousins of Santa’s Reindeer but live in Canada’s north.  Maybe once in a while they drop in at the North Pole and help with the sled.  I’ve seen them in the arctic and when they run, they truly look like they could fly.

I’ll post the video of how to draw them at the end of this post after some of the drawings from the video.

Enjoy your drawing!

small carved Caribou from George River

 

Step 1: Keep it simple

Stages of how to draw a caribou

The most important lesson is to start simple and keep it simple.

Step 2: Use simple shapes

How to use simple shapes

Look for simple shapes in everything you draw.

Step 3:  Shapes become Forms

Simple shapes become simple forms

If you want to draw something as it turns, look for simple forms made from simple shapes

Use Reference

I will use anything ranging to a photo to a specimen at a museum, and even in this case a carved wooden caribou I brought back from the North.

Photos from magazines or from the web are an excellent resource. I prefer magazines and books since they are clearer.

 

some drawings of caribou

I did these drawings from a caribou head I found in an antique store where I live.

12 Days of Drawing Day 2: How to draw Caribou Video

I love showing process.

As a reader you get to see the final work.  That’s the most important piece of course, but if you’re an artist or illustrator, or just like peeking behind the creative curtain an seeing what happened up to that final piece, I’m with you.  I’ve always loved seeing the stuff that happened before.  And if possible, I love getting into the mind of the creator through their letters or notes.

But here I just want to show you a small bit of what went into Dashing Through the Snow.

The first image is the final painting from one of the last pages of the book.  The only thing missing is the text.  I don’t put that in.  The art director at Scholastic does that.  I’m happy she does, since my printing isn’t that great.  I prefer writing script.

Final Painting in the process

The last present is always the biggest surprise

The painting is of the opening of the very last present that fell from Santa’s Sleigh.  I needed to get all the characters in, and yet add a bit of fun to the suspense.

Below is the drawing on the watercolour sheet.  There were many rougher drawings before this one.

I admit it’s a bit messy.  That gets cleaned up when I ink it.

Once it is inked I start to paint.  The picture below is of 4 paintings being done at the same time.  I do that so that I make sure my colours don’t change from picture to picture.  That’s a very easy thing since I can start getting very creative with new possibilities and add new colours.   So that they have some reference I have a practice picture leaning up on my table.  I try to make all my mistakes in the practice pictures, but mistakes do happen.  And then it’s back to a new stretched sheet of paper and start all over again.

A book can have 18 spreads like this so making sure you got your mistakes out of the way can save a lot of time.

I hope to offer reproductions of this and other images soon.  Originals are available.

You can get  Hard and Soft Cover and Board Book from your favorite independent book store or Chapters Indigo.

Cover of Dashing Through the Snow

Happy Singing this Christmas!

Porcupine Series Board Books

Dashing through the Snow is now a board book.

Helaine Becker’s silly take on another Christmas Song Classic is here ready for the season.

It joins the rest of the Porcupine in a Pine Tree gang Board Book series.

And best of all, they are all virtually indestructible!   At least for toddlers.

Enjoy!

 

I made this card a number of years ago.  Since we’re not officially past the 12th day, I thought I’d share it.  Silly, I know, but it was fun.  

Have some fun drawing the Porcupine from Porcupine in a Pine Tree, Dashing through the Woods, and Deck the Halls.

Feel free to skip the intro and jump to 1:48 for the drawing.

 

Christmas Pigs and Cozy Barns

Animals have to be my favorite things to draw and paint,  As for favorite times of the year, Christmas has to rate  near the top.  And finally, barns have always been places I’ve been drawn to for both their size and feeling of coziness in the stables.

That’s why illustrating Pippin the Christmas Pig for Jean Little & Scholastic was a special treat for me: all three came together in one story.

Pippin the Christmas Pig

Cover of Pippin the Christmas Pig

There were many drawings made for each of the paintings in the book, and although I’d love to share all of them, I’ve chosen to post the drawings of the barn.  The exact building doesn’t exist other than in my imagination, but it was drawn on from barns I’d known since my childhood.  Maybe one day I’ll own my own.

sketch of barn interior

A peek through the door

When I create a scene for a book, I like to create a space in which I could move around in and see from all angles.   This image never appears in the book. I drew it so that I would know what entering the barn would look with all the important elements like the manger and even the door in the ceiling in place.

view from above

Looking down from above

Barns often have trap doors in the upper floors to allow hay to be dropped down to feed the animals below.  I used this one to give the reader a peek from above onto what was happening below.

I like putting different viewpoints into my pictures. Perspective changes add drama and excitement. Perhaps it may be because I’m not too fond of heights and this lets me conquer that fear, but never the less I find it fun.

interior of stable

barn interior set up

I needed to set the stage for the scene where Pippin brings the woman and child into the warm stable from the cold outside.  I chose a wide view to allow the cold of the open door to contrast with the warmth at the other end.

I also wanted it cozy, so I chose to create the warmth in the middle surrounded but the walls on three sides and the barrels and tractor  creating a front wall.  The mice on the barrels are spectators to the scene just like the readers who find themselves watching from behind.  The stairs on the back left lead up to the upper barn and ultimately to the trap opening above.

Of course the empty stage is nothing without the actors, and here it’s Pippin bringing the woman and child in and confronting the surprised stable mates.

animals in the barn

Pippin bringing in the visitors.

After the pencil there are colour studies to help set the feeling for each scene. In this book I wanted to contrast warmth of the stable with cold whether outside or upstairs in the barn loft.

colour watercolour of the stable

Colour study of the stable

Painting in the book

Barns often have trap doors in the upper floors to allow hay to be dropped down to feed the animals below.  I used this one to give the reader a peek from above onto what was below.

Pippin the Christmas Pig is a book about the contrast of warm and cold hearts; hearts that eventually warm too.   Jean wrote a lovely story and I was pleased to have been given the chance to illustrate it.

Mr Christies Book awards 2004

Winning the Mr. Christie’s Award 2004

It’s November, and in Toronto it means it’s time for the Royal Winter Fair.  Every year I go with my college students to draw the beautiful animals.  This year due to a very tight schedule, I won’t be going,  However, I thought it’s a nice time to post some drawings from past fairs.

From the books I’ve written and or illustrated in the past, you can easily see that I love drawing and painting animals .  I take every opportunity to study animals when I can. Whether pets or farm animals, or even at museums, it’s always best drawing live animals from life and not just from photos. That’s why the Royal is so special: so many animals together in one place, and all so close you could touch them.

For me, creating good characters for books means studying them, especially from life.  Photo reference is good, but being able to see an animal from many sides, especially if they move, makes for the greatest understanding.  I feel if you understand your subject, you are more able to be in control of your character regardless how you pose them or even change them in caricature.

Rabbits are some of favorites at the show.  Here are a few of my sketches.

Coming soon: Drawing pets