Developing an Idea

As I shared in last week's post, I've been working on a series of drawings to accompany some short stories I've written about my time in the rainforests in Ecuador.  Today, I wanted to share my process for developing an idea.  One of my stories is called The Shampoo Thief.  There were many coatis living in the sanctuary where I volunteered.  One of them, Koba, stole my shampoo after I left it on the riverbank and used it to scent his tail.  I wanted to do a drawing of how imagined this.  Here is the finished drawing, and I will describe the different stages I undertook to get to this image.

Koba shampooing his tail

 Whenever I decide to draw a particular subject, I do lots of research.  Below you can see some of the sketches I did of coatis.  Of course, the internet is a fantastic resource for this. I use images - but I also look at YouTube films of what I want to draw.  This is a brilliant way of capturing exactly how an animal moves.  I watch the films and pause them if the animal moves into a position which is close to the idea I have in mind.  I draw these images very quickly, and do them in biro so I can't correct mistakes - the point is to capture the overall look of the subject and not get too hung up in detail.

Sketches of Coatis

I also looked at my photos from Ecuador - here is a photo of Koba snoozing on the veranda.  He really was more like a labrador, especially as he loved a good scratch on his tummy.  He had lost half his tail at some point as you can see. 

Koba the Coati

After this, the image began to emerge in my mind of what I wanted to draw.  You can see in the corner of the image below that I just sketched it out very roughly initially.  Once I'd captured my thoughts on paper, I was able to do a more detailed drawing of what I wanted.

Sketch of the Shampoo Thief

I did a final version onto parchment paper.  I copied my draft onto the parchment by tracing it using a lightbox.  Then I worked up the detail using pencil and pens.  An important part of my process is to look at my sketches ONLY at this point - I no longer refer to photographs.  This helps you to focus on the shape and feeling of what you want to capture, and not get too caught up in replicating photographic detail.  The film below shows this process.


Which artistic processes do you follow?  What tricks work for you?




Back to blog