"The Gaze" - 4 x 9" colored pencil on paper (exactly the right size to fit in a business envelope - coincidence?)
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
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Let me know if you guys get tired of these work in progress posts. This is another colored pencil piece I did today - probably only two hours on this one - and I took some more work in progress photos of it. They're not completely terrible photos this time so I'll try to explain briefly what I was thinking at each stage.
Step 1-4: I rarely do a preliminary drawing on my actual drawing paper. If I'm confused about the shapes or the values or I need to make sizable changes, I'll do a value sketch in my sketch book, but otherwise, for one of these quickies, I just dive right in.
So I start with the eye, always. I put as much dark value in as I can because I'll want to bring the rest of the values up to that level to match. When I need to "explain" a shape to myself as I work, I tone the paper with a light layer of a midtone to form the edge, rather than drawing it with an unnatural line -- you can see that on the edge of the leopard's face, right?
Step 5-8: I need to start establishing some more shapes here. I use the eye as a flat measurement and measure distances relative to that: i.e., the nose is two eye lengths away from the corner of the eye, the ear is two and half. Again, if I don't "understand" a shape quite yet, I tone the paper lightly where I think it ought to go. I can always adjust a little if I don't like how it turned out. I'm using a lot of greens and yellow-browns at this point.
Step 9-12: This is where it's getting fun. I start pushing the saturation. If I'm using a burnt ochre, I grab magenta or process red to push the colors a bit more. If the area's cool, I lay in blues. I want his face to come forward and his neck to move back, so I use lots of colors on his face and greys and blues on his neck. I never forget that Value is King, so everything has to look right in black and white -- the colors will work themselves out.