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In this episode of the DrawPj Show I chat with you about developing a new work-in-progress for my Christmas Cats collection.

There are lots of useful tips in this video (not just the ones summarised at the end) including:

  • How to quickly sketch down ideas
  • Using collage to compose an artwork from various elements
  • Using yourself as a model to create poses for your characters
  • Tidying up your drawing by using tracing paper
  • Kids ideas can be great for inspiration
  • Get your ideas down fast (so you don’t procrastinate)
  • Don’t be fussy. You can work out the details later!

Materials used

  • Derwent Sketch and Store sketchbook
  • Derwent Precision Clutch Pencil

Video created on location at Lake Placid, Cairns, Far North Queensland Australia. Yes there are crocodiles in the lake. If you look very carefully in the background you can see a crocodile trap on the far side of the lake.

Video Transcript

This week I’ve started a brand new artwork for my Christmas cats collection and I’m really excited because I’ve finished all the planning and I’ve got all the outline out onto my paper so I’m just about ready to start colouring.

You know it’s really interesting because just the other day one of my friends said to me “how do you do that? How do you get your idea out of your head and onto the paper? You just create a drawing.”

It really isn’t quite that easy. There is an initial struggle that takes place before the idea actually gets onto the paper, before the artwork is even drawn. All this thinking goes on. Let me share a story with you about how I overcame that struggle in the latest drawing that I’ve been working on.

Starting with an Idea

It all starts with that very first idea, and this time for this artwork I was swimming in the pool with our two daughters and one of them, my youngest one, she said to me what about Santa, what about two little kittens sitting on Santa’s knee and then my eldest one chipped in, she said oh yeah great idea but you’ve got to have a little boy kitten playing with a train on the floor, and then I came up with the idea of Christmas presents and some baubles on a Christmas tree, so we all came up with the idea together.

Now once I got that idea I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to record it, so I quickly got up out the pool, dried myself off, and sketched it into my little sketchbook.

The Rough Sketch

This is my very first sketch. Now you can see that it’s a very rough sketch because I created it in basically a half an hour time period, and you can see that there’s two little baby kittens sitting on Santa’s knee and the little baby boy here playing with his train on the floor.

I’ve got the Christmas tree and a few presents there. Now this is the very first sketch and the whole idea of that first sketch is just to record the idea as quickly as you can. You could even draw even rougher than that and just write little titles or names of what you want to sketch in the various places but make sure you get that idea really quickly because if you don’t the chances are that you might procrastinate yourself out of even creating the picture in the first place, so record your first sketch very quickly.

From Construction Drawing to Final Outline

And once I’ve come up with that initial sketch then it was time to take it through the different stages of the process of drawing and I started with the construction drawing and then into the final outline. That took me about three days to do that just in the little blocks of time. Let me show you the sketch that I did.

Oh, and by the way I love this little book. This is the Derwent Sketch and Store because it has this handy little pocket in the back. Look at that… and I’ve stored my sketches in there because often I like to cut them out and then I can use them like a collage to plan the composition later.

So this is the final sketch, and you can see how overworked it’s become because I’ve made all these different decisions about hand positions and various head sizes and eyes and things like that, so what I do once I’ve come up with that final drawing that I’m happy with, I then trace it onto some tracing paper so that the final image is actually really nice and crisp and clean and then I can use that to scan that into my computer and I collage it in Photoshop.

Using myself as a Model

And when I came to drawing the baby kitten I realised that I just wasn’t happy with that position that I first sketched him in. So it was time to actually get down and model myself, so I put myself in the position and I just used this block. You can see the photograph I’d taken.

That block was to just mimic the train because I didn’t have a little wooden train, and I was happy with that position so then I used a sheet of tracing paper and created these shapes over the top. You can just see the construction drawing there. Just basic egg-shapes, ovals and some other shapes for the hand.

Once I had that position and those construction drawing shapes in place then I was ready to begin the little baby kitten. So I used the whole idea of just the construction and built his shapes up into an outline drawing by making the head that bit larger and the body a bit smaller, compressing the limbs and the feet and just adding to it to embellish it and make it look like a little boy kitten, and you can see the train that I invented here. I just did that out of my imagination.

Collage the drawn elements using Photoshop

Now once I’ve created the drawing of the Santa and the little boy on tracing paper I also did the same thing by just sketching and drawing a Christmas tree on tracing paper. I scanned them all into my computer and then use Photoshop to position them and collage them into place how I wanted them, and then I decided on a format I was quite happy with this general sort of format. Just a basic rectangle and I’m going to refine that a bit more shortly. I’ve also
thought about the floor level line and I’ve just positioned that in temporarily that again might change.

Now I’m almost finished, this is the stage that I’m up to, I’ll just be making a few more little decisions about what I’d like to put in the background wall if anything, and what I’d like to draw on the floor area here. I’ll probably just put some more presents around and a few little baubles and some tinsel, just little elements to bring it all together, but this is a stage I’m up to right now so I feel really fantastic because all the major decisions have been made.


Let’s summarise!

These are three secrets from my sketchbook today.

#1 Stuck for ideas? Ask a child
#2 Sketch it down fast.
#3 Don’t be fussy, work out the details later.

Now I’ve got a challenge for you. Get yourself a little sketchbook and a pencil that you feel comfortable with. I love the Derwent precision because it’s a beautiful weight and it doesn’t go blunt.

Now once your inspiration strikes sketch it down as quickly as you can and remember no fussing! Now I’m heading back to the studio to put the finishing touches on my drawing.

Remember to subscribe to my channel so you get notified of my next progress video and remember to just “show up at the table, the rest will take care of itself”