Thursday, June 19, 2014

Took a While Crocodile

Drawing a Crocodile

Prints, posters, stationery cards, and signed fine art reproductions  
are available for purchase in my Etys shop at: 
Crocodile. 11x17" Ballpoint Pen and Ink wash

Ok, I have to say, this one took longer than I expected. This Crocodile took a while! I probably put 20-25 hours of time into drawing this piece. Not that there is anything wrong with this. I love working on a single piece of art for an extended period of time. Actually, the longer the better, because I get to experience a kind of evolutionary process as the drawing progresses, and this is when I feel I get the chance to improve and learn more. Now, I don't consider myself a photo realistic artist in the least bit. I know people that can make art that you can't even tell isn't a photograph. That is a talent I just don't posses, and am not going to strive for, but what I do like is detail, and most of all I like creating patterns. Finding different patterns that somehow represent the texture and feel of the creature I am drawing, is what I love most. And repeating those patterns throughout a piece of art is where I find true happiness in making art. I never get frustrated, bored, or anxious from repetitive actions. It's more of a mediating experience that makes me very relaxed while I'm doing it. Even to the point where I can concentrate on something else, like watching TV while drawing. 

My drawing surface of choice. A self-healing cutting mat

I've tried many surfaces to draw on, from wood, to illustration board, but my preferred surface for pen work is a self-healthing cutting mat. They come in many sizes, and I find that this surface is ideal for the pressures that my pen demands. It isn't too hard or soft, but just right. This is totally a personal preference and may not work for others.

For those who might be interested, here is how I approach creating one of my drawings. Once I've come up with the animal that I'm going to draw I do quick sketches to work out the composition. After settling on the composition I do a ruff initial light sketch, in pen, on paper. I move onto what I call, "skinning the animal", by adding in the textures and patterns of the surface. This is were I get my real enjoyment. Exploring different patterns that describe the surface of the particular animal. And then I'm off to the races, at turtle speed that is, slowly constructing the animal usually from the eye out. I love starting with the eyes. One thing I will tell you about drawing with a ball point pen is that it is amazing how temperature effects the ink flow. The warmer it is, the quicker the ink comes out of the pen. When it flows fast it builds up on the pen tip and then makes blotches on the paper. So to avoid this I have a napkin in my other hand and constantly wipe the pen tip. Sometimes wiping after every 3rd or 4th line. It has become second nature to me, so it doesn't effect my drawing freedom at all, but it is something that you have to get use to. I love piecing together the patterns and working out how the scales interact with each other. Drawing one scale at a time before moving onto the next. Finally after the underlining pattern is done, I shade over the patterns to create the form, structure, and shape of the creature. Once the complete drawing is finished I do more shading to add drama. And last I black in the background with layers of india ink. ProArt is my india ink of choice since it is very opaque and covers well. If you have any other questions about my drawing techniques, please don't hesitate to write and ask me. And please forgive me for my bad grammar and misspellings. I'm NO editor, just a guy that loves to draw!

Reptiles have to be some of my favorite animals to draw. The incredible detail in their scaly skin is just cake to me! And Crocodiles are basically the coolest of the cool when it comes to reptiles. Bad to the bone!

Here are some photos taken during my drawing process
The light underlying drawing 
The detail work begins

Here you can see my drawing surface and work space

Watching TV while drawing. The World Cup!

Close up detail of the eye
The finished drawing

Prints, posters and signed fine art reproductions are available 
for purchase in my Etys shop at: 


  1. Ahhh, these are so great Tim. Very inspirational to see you burrow into the art-making. I'm drawing/painting some alligators at the moment for a picture book and you demonstrate the need to slow down and just get into the particulars of the subject (this crocodile for instance).

    1. Hey Rob. Thanks for so much for stopping by and taking the time to look at, and comment on my artwork. i really appreciate it, and your good words. Yeah, I just love soaking in all the little details and unique features that each creature possess. I get lost in the patterns and details and just enjoy taking as long as it does to finish a piece. I wish you all the luck on your picture book and would love to see your work sometime. All the best, Tim

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