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Sketching Bears, Wolves, and Dogs

This week’s assignment are gestures of bears, wolves, and dogs. Using a envelope for the animals and simplifying geometric shapes helps with simplifying. The class is setting into a routine of drawing gestures with a little value added in some, skeleton and ecorche version, and discussion post which looks at different rendering of animals characters and how they can be portrayed as protagonists or antagonists in a story. It’s fun seeing the examples that my classmates come up with.

I’m finding I really like drawing with the Procreate app on the iPad pro and Apple pencil. It’s close to drawing with a real pencil. When I want this soft effect with pencil, I usually prefer to use mylar (Dura-lar) which comes in huge rolls from Dick Blick and erases cleanly.

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My discussion post:
There’s some amount of range when it comes to how sympathetically bear characters are portrayed. On the sympathetic side, there are characters such as teddy bears, and related characters such as the Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh, which are modeled more on the stuffed animal than the actual animal.

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More realistic sympathetic bears include Baloo from any of the multiple adaptations of The Jungle Book, Smokey the Bear, and the bear family of Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear.

On the more antipathetic side, there are characters such as the bear in the film version of The Fox and the Hound, and the grizzly bear from the film Balto, which are portrayed as bestial, inhuman predators.

When wolves are portrayed positively, they tend to come off as majestic, intelligent, loyal, embodying the nobility of nature; the wolf family in The Jungle Book, Moro in Princess Mononoke.

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Negatively, wolves are portrayed as crafty predators, as with the classical fairytale archetype of the Big Bad Wolf.

 

 

wolf-4The main example I can think of when it comes to neutral/background characters is how, in Donald Duck etc. comics, otherwise “human” side/background characters tend to be given dog noses, and occasionally ears. Here, the use of animal characteristics basically just signifies that these stories take place in a completely unreal fantasy world.
In general, I would say that completely realistic renderings of animals, as you might find in an educational book, often have less strong emotional expressivity, and are less immediately emotionally accessible as a result. Even mostly realistic designs often “cheat” when it comes to faces, adding human elements such as humanoid scleras, eyebrow muscles, and mouth expressions.

Value Studies and Final Snow Queen Painting

After sketching thumbnails for my Gerda vs. the Snow Queen’s Snow Bees painting, I created 3 quick 3-value thumbnails to decide on the final composition. I found it really helps separating out the composition and value decisions before committing to a final work. Because I wanted to base the painting on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I also want to work in the detail that he had about the palace being lit by Northern Lights.

Although I liked the extremes of values in the value study, I settled on the 3rd study because I liked the idea that the shadows on the hill would be pointing to Gerda, my focal point. I added some hills in the background to create greater depth and also added more complex branchwork in the final.

I started out with pencil and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper, but finished the piece digitally using Procreate and an Ipad Pro because I could play around with different color combinations before deciding on a final. I really like Procreate and the Apple Pencil because the process of illustrating with them is so close to real pencil, paper, and paint – but with much more flexibility with materials and undo’s. I had an earlier version, but Phil my teacher and classmate China suggested good feedback about brightening up the colors among other things. Our next assignment should be fun – drawing caricatures. I’ve picked my subject already…Edgar Allan Poe.

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