Friday, 25 September 2015

How To Draw: Fungi

Triggered by a spell of wet weather, toadstools and mushrooms are emerging from the ground. Like an apple on an apple tree, toadstools and mushrooms are the fruit of something much bigger. The 'tree' in this case is an underground network of powdery threads called mycelium, the fungus itself. The world of fungi is an interesting science and without fungi, we would in a world of trouble as they decompose dead matter into compost and nutrients for plants to grow from. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and are also a great subject to draw. Drawing fungi is easy and anyone can draw the shape of a toadstool well enough, and with hundreds of species to choose from, it is in the detail in your drawing that can help identify them.

Stage One
The most familiar type of fungi are the ones that produce toadstools and mushrooms (which are the same thing by the way). Drawing one is made up of two to three structures. The top part is the cap and can be drawn with either a circle or semi-circle. The second part is the stem which is drawn as a rectangle here, but can vary in length, thickness and could have a bend or be tilted depending on the species and speciman you are drawing. The third part, a 'skirt' under the cap, is optional and is just a square shape. Also optional when drawing is the gills under the cap, which are drawn as lines with a gap between each line.

Stage Two
Next, improve the shape and structure of your drawing so it looks like the speciman you are drawing. In other words, add any bumps and cracks to your toadstool. Some toadstools have scales or flakes on the cap. These are simple enough to draw, just round or uneven shapes.

Stage Three

Redraw your toadstool in pen. Rub out the pencil marks afterwards.

Stage Four

Colour in your toadstool. My toadstool is a fly agaric, a poisonous fungi with white scales on a bright red cap, often pictured in fairytail stories that fairies sit on.

Stage One

Toadstools come in many shapes and colours and can form as clusters. My next set of drawings demonstrate other methods of such shapes, delicate colours and clustering.

The shaggy inkcap is drawn as a bell-shape attached to a stem. The brown rollrim has a dip in the centre of the cap and the gills are exposed. The dip is created with a circular mark and the stem is widened near the top for the gills. Use my stage by stage method I used for my fly agaric for the lilac bonnet, while the sulphur tuft is created with circles on top of more circles.

Stage Two
I've shaded in the caps of all but the sulphur tuft. The shaggy inkcap had parts of its bell shape broken off, so I drew angular shaped lines and missed parts of the bell out. Scales were also added to the inkcap. The dip on the top of the rollrim was shaded more so along the edge than the rest of the cap with a bit of a smudging using my finger. The gills were simply downward lines with slight gaps in between. My lilac bonnet was shaded and smudged slightly with my finger with lines added to the edge of the cap and to the stem. In the centre of each cap of my sulphur tuft, I draw a circle to mark out the orange part of the cap. 

Stage Three
 Redraw and shade in with your pen. For my shaggy inkcap, the lower half of the cap is darker as if stained in ink, while the upper half is lighter. For my rollrim, I took great care with the shading. The dip was shaded in along the dip and I gave it a little smudge with my finger towards the centre with a lot of care. Great care is also needed while lightly shading in the lilac bonnet. You can rub out any mistakes with an eraser, but only if the ink is still wet. You do not need to press hard onto the page with your pen when you are shading lightly. The sulphur tuft only needs a bit of shading along the edges to add dimension to the drawing and you can add chinks to the edging of each cap.

Stage Four

Colour in each drawing. Grey for the shaggy inkcap, yellow and brown layers for the rollrim, pink with brown highlights to the lilac bonnet (which I partially rubbed out with an eraser to lighten the colour) and yellow with orange centres for the sulphur tuft.

Drawing Stage
Fungi also come in other shapes and forms besides caps and stems. Bracket fungi grow on tree trunks, like my birch polypore (left) and are drawn as a round-ish shape for the bracket with a small semi-circle underneath (the stem) and then draw the tree it is attached to. Puffballs (like the one at the bottom) is just a round shape which is sometimes attached to a stem. Then you have unusual shaped fungi such as the orange peel fungus (right) which is drawn as a wobbly blob shape with some part of the edging concaved inwards and a dark centre. While fungi like the yellow stagshorn (bottom right) are thin twig-like shapes.

Pen Stage

Redraw in pen and shade in if needed.

Colour Stage

 Finally colour them in. I used bright orange for the orange peel fungus, but lighter orange for the edging, bright yellow for the stagshorn, a light layer of yellow and orange for the birch polypore with grey, brown and green for the tree trunk, while the puffball is highlighted with yellow and grey.

Another fun way to ID fungi is to take off the cap of a toadstool and place it gill downwards onto a piece of paper. Leave it for several hours for the spores (seeds of a fungus) to drop. The result should be a print and as each toadstool have different coloured spores, the prints should also be in different colours.

I hope I have inspired you to go out and look for fungi for yourself, while drawing them in their many shapes, sizes, colours and textures. You will be a fun-guy if you do (sorry couldn't resist). The best thing about fungi is that you can find them anywhere. From the park to a woodland, all you need to do is visit the next day after a night of rain.

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