The raven

Happy Draw-A-Bird-Day!

I didn’t plan on spending 12 hours with this raven but I did. I mostly used a mechanical pencil with a fat HB lead. The fat lead can be sharpened with the little steel head of the pencil but I found it easier to use my 3-sided pencil sharpener on the side with the half-length blade. Even right after sharpening, the tip of my fat lead was always a bit rounded and I enjoyed the slight softness of its marks both for sketching lines and for shading. I enjoyed the feel of the lead on the paper so much, that each day that I worked on the raven, I looked forward to spending an hour or two adding a little more graphite. I drew the bird’s outline first and then shaded in the eye. As I shaded the beak and added feathers, the kind, wise, glossy eye looked at me while the raven became more and more raven-like.

I did a lot of erasing because I had trouble keeping track of which feathers I was drawing. For future raven portraits, I will outline all the feather groups before adding feather shading. And maybe I’ll use a grid to draw the outline… this will make it easier to get the shapes and proportions closer to real life. And I’ll try the fat lead on heavier paper (80 lb instead of 50 lb). And maybe I’ll try a 2B or 4B fat lead…

My reference photo was taken by Steven Kessel, who takes beautiful photographs of wildlife, mostly in Arizona.

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18 Comments

  1. Twelve hours! It shows in the beauty of this drawing.

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    1. Thanks for your nice comment, Hien! πŸ™‚ I’ve done a few other drawings that took 12 or more hours (over many days), but this was the first one this year. I was glad to find out that I can still access that kind of patience.

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  2. Looks lovely. Unfortunately, it is hard to make out detail at only 450 px wide.

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    1. Thanks, Sherry :-). At 72 dpi, 450 px is about the size of my actual drawing. It wasn’t very big and I didn’t vary the grey tones very much, so the details are somewhat subtle. Your comment lead me to notice something interesting about image dpi. On my MacBook, the raven image in my post is 4 inches wide, 112 dpi. If I click on the image, a new webpage opens with the image only; this image is 5 inches wide, 90 dpi. On my desktop monitor, where I edited the image in Photoshop, the image is 5.5 inches wide, 82 dpi. I don’t know which dpi to base my image sizes on!

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      1. On my screen your image is less than only inches wide. I find 1200 px wide at 72 dpi provides is a reasonable size to display images when clicked on in WordPress. Also watch that WordPress settings are not downsizing your images. I had to change my settings to display a slightly larger image.

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  3. I’m looking at your drawing on my computer, not my phone, and I see all of the feathers beautifully. It is a wonderful piece, Myriam. I’m getting ready to made the DAB-Day post for the Wednesday Studio. Only a few artists submitted birds, though, so the December flock will be small.

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  4. It’s funny, isn’t it, how time disappears when you sink down into working? This is lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Melissa :-). I’ve been trying to draw between 2:30 and 3:30 lately, the last good hour of afternoon sunlight. It is nice when for that hour, there is just the process of drawing. At 3:35, the drawing starts to be hard to see and the rest of the world slowly reappears. And then I can stretch my arms!

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  5. Wow! 😍 Well done!

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  6. Beautiful work, Myriam. I don’t know if you’ve seen this raven, but he looks like a subject for another relaxing 5-hr day.
    http://naturehasnoboss.com/2018/12/10/a-raven-beard/

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    1. That is one awesome raven photo! And the beard looks like an intriguing pencil challenge. Thanks for the link. πŸ™‚

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  7. Another beautiful bird, Myriam! πŸ™‚
    And I love your logo. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Hanna! πŸ™‚ ❀

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  8. What a wonderful portrait, and it’s nice to hear you took so much pleasure in the making of it.

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  9. Now that you spent so many hours with this raven, did you get a sense of whether it was a she or a he? It looks like a she to me, and I think she radiates beauty and intelligence, and, as you mentioned, kindness. One could spend twelve hours of one’s life with far lesser companions. You portrayed her beautifully.

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  10. The time you spent really shows with the meticulous stroke of each hair and feather. I love the highlight in the eye.
    It was well worth the time spent! I hope you have a spray fixit so it doesn’t smear, and someday you frame it. It’s wonderful!

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