This tutorial is part 2 of a 3-part series. In part 1 we created a beginner friend jaguar. In part 2, this tutorial, we will build upon the artwork completed in part 1. The goal is to give the artwork more tonal depth and a better 3d appearance. I want to make clear that we are not trying to create a replica of the reference photo. Instead I want to show you how to improve a basic piece of art using without getting overly complex. I have broken down the steps so that they are easy to follow along and will produce great results.
Be aware that this tutorial is a bit more advanced that part 1. That said, I do think this tutorial can be done by a beginner, but it might be a bit challenging at times.
For this tutorial you need the completed artwork from part 1, and here’s a link to that tutorial: Jaguar Part 1
Part three covers adding a background to the artwork. To make it as easy as possible, I broke it down into stages that get progressively more difficult. The first stage adds the dark tree trunk shapes, the second stage add color to the entire background, and the last stage adds the hints of leaves and mottling to the background. Depending on your skill and comfort level you can decide at which stage you want to stop burning.
Now, let’s get to work.
SKILL LEVEL: 2-3
- Shading tip
- White charcoal pencil
- Completed artwork from part 1
Here’s the pattern from part 1: Jaguar mp pattern
Here is the reference photo. Note that the Jaguar image I’m used was obtained from Pixabay user NetzwerX. Here’s a link to the original photo: Jaguar
In a lot of my tutorials, we analyze the photo to help us create realistic artwork. That is not sometime we will do in this tutorial. Creating a replica of the photo is not our goal. Instead, we are aiming to give the artwork from part 1 more tonal depth and a bit more of a 3d appearance.
One more thing I want to mention. We will be creating highlights and shadows via avoidance and reburning. The highlights are by avoiding an area or not burning over and area. Shadows are formed by reburning over an area so that it is several shades darker than the adjacent fur.
I want to share with you how I decided to shape the jaguar. As I said I wasn’t trying to create a replicate of the photo. I printed out the pattern, and then I used colored pencils to color in the pattern. This gave me an idea of how to shade the jaguar. Since I was working with paper and pencils, it was easy to make changes until I was happy with the results.
You can do this with any project! Then print the line drawing of the project, and use colored pencils or graphite to start shading the subject. This helps you decide what you need to do. The great thing is that if you make a mistake or don’t like the results, then erase or print out a new one and start over.
STEP 1 – THE FACE
Use the shader of your choice and burn over the right side of the back of the head until it is 2-3 shades darker than it is now. I am mostly using circular motion, but I also use some uniform strokes as my burn method.
For some reason the artwork looks much darker when viewed at this angle, but I’m not sure why.
Now look at your jaguar’s face and decide if it needs more work. I felt that the upper right side of the head needed to be darked a touch more. I wanted a clear distinction between the head and the ear.
After you have burned in the body on the jaguar, compare the color or tonal value of the fur on the different parts of the body. Look for any areas that seem too dark or too light compared to the rest of the fur. When I did this, I discovered that the fur on the face appear much lighter in color than the rest of the body, so I darkened up almost everything on the face using the same steps that I already mentioned.
STEP 2 – THE SHOULDER and FRONT LEGS
Begin by burning along the top of the shoulder working your way down along the edge of the face. Make sure your burn strokes do not overlap onto the face. I am using the left edge of my shader to follow along the contours of the face.
Work your way along the along the seam. The seam is where the face and neck touch.
Burn the neck along the seam area several shades darker than what it was from part 1. The reason is that this area is in shadows, so it needs to be darker in color. Plus the darker color will provide contrast with the face.
Is this step necessary? No, but I find it helpful. The charcoal creates a very visible marker of where the highlight will be. You can easily alter the shape and location of the highlight before you resuming burning.
Then burn the fur around the white charcoal so that it is a couple of shades darker than it was from part 1. Just keep in mind that the fur should be darker closer to the neck, so if it ends up looking uniform in color then re-burn along the seam to recreate the shadow.
If needed rotate the board so your pen tip is in optimal position and burn along the body adjacent to the leg. We are creating a slight cast shadow from the leg onto the body. Yes, this step should have been moved to the body step, but I left it here as I didn’t feel like editing the video tutorial to match.
Try to limit the amount of time white charcoal is on the board to a few hours at the most. Don’t leave it overnight! The reason is that the longer the white charcoal is on the board the harder it becomes to erase. This is especially true on unburned wood.
Burn over the highlight to reduce the contrast a bit. This will make the highlight more subtle in appearance. If you want a more pronounced highlight, then don’t burn over it. You can always change your mind with this later on.
Concentrate the color along the center of the leg. The light is coming from the left, so the left edge of the leg is a touch brighter than the center. The right-side fades to white fur, so that’s why the center is darker than the edges.
I chose to add a dark line along the right edge of the back leg just to help differentiate between the two legs. I will admit that I made the line a touch too dark, so if you replicate this I’d recommend making the line a bit lighter in color.
STEP 3 – THE BODY
When you near the hips, burn a V shape along the edge of the hip and the end of the belly area. This will create a subtle shadow or depression along the right edge of the body just before the hips. Yellow lines on the photo are marking the area I’m referring to.
I’m using a lot of uniform strokes and circular motion as my burn methods. Uniform strokes are much easier to do when burning with the grain line. My board has a horizontal grain line, so rotating it makes it easier to burn the uniform strokes.
Another benefit of rotating the board is that it can help you evaluate your artwork better. The reason is that the shapes don’t look as familiar to your brain, so you concentrate on the highlights and shadows better.
Notice how the side of the body is looked curved. This is because the sides of the body are darker than the center. Plus there is gradient shading that transitions from the side to the center. The gradient shading keeps color smooth so it doesn’t look like bands or stripes of color.
Use circular motion and burn around the highlight to soften the edges. You don’t want a clearly defined line around the highlight. Also make sure to soften the area where the orange fur ends and the white fur begins.
STEP 4 – THE TAIL and HIND LEGS
Use a white charcoal pencil and draw in a highlight that starts at the hip and gently curves down the top of the leg. The highlight I was drawing was a bit tough to see in this photo, so I added a white line to the photo for ease of seeing it.
As you re-burn the fur on the leg, make a wide band near the right side the darkest area. I drew a brownish colored line to indicate where the band should be. We don’t want the color to be super dark on the right edge of the leg because we want contrast with the back leg and the background.
STEP 5 – THE LOG
Continue to darken up the log. Once a section is darkened up, then use the edge of the shader to burn thin lines here and there. The lines should be burned in the wood grain direction, lines should vary in color, and the lines should vary in length.
With the longer pattern lines, burn a band of dark color along the upper edge of the line. This will create a slight shadow making it look like the wood is a curving. A yellow arrow is pointing to the band of darker color I burned in.
In this photo I’ve filled the upper portion of the log with wide burn strokes using the flat of the shader. I did not try to make the color uniform. Instead, I re-burned over some the wide burn strokes to darken them a little. We want a bit of tonal variety on the log.
BEFORE / AFTER
Below is a comparison photo showing how the jaguar looked from part 1 and how it looks now.
We are done with part 2 of the jaguar series. I hope I was able to show you how easy it was to give the artwork from part 1 more tonal depth and a 3d appearance. While we did not end up with a replica of the reference photo, I think this artwork looks great. I really do encourage you to try this even if you are a beginner. I think you’ll be surprised with what you will create.
Before I go, I’ll answer a couple of common questions I get. The artwork was burned on birch plywood. It measures 4 ¾ x 6 ¾ inches (12.1 x 17.1 cm) and took me 3 hours to create. Part 1 took me 2 ½ hours, so my total time on this artwork is 5 ½ hours.
Until the next blog,
Mar 30, 2021
Want to subscribe?
- Click on the “Leave a Comment” field at the end of any post (blog) and a subscribe option will appear.
- Put something in the comment field (if you put “test” or “just subscribing” I won’t make your comment public)
- Fill in the sections for your email address and name, and then click on the “notify me of new posts via email.”
- You will get a confirmation email from WordPress confirming you want to subscribe.
- Click on the confirm button in that email and you’re done.
Please note that I do not send out emails. If you have a WordPress account there is a way to subscribe within the WordPress system, but I cannot provide specifics on how it works as I don’t know.