Friday, 30 October 2015

How To Draw: Spiders (Halloween Special)

It is Halloween tomorrow and to celebrate, I am going to draw a group of creatures that many people are afraid of... spiders!! Arachnophobia is perhaps the most commonest of phobias in the world. The long hairy legs, scuttling movement and with some of them, venom that can be harmful to us, it is no wonder that thousands of people are scared stiff whenever they see a spider. But do they deserve such a reputation? I think spiders are fascinating creatures. They produce silk, an amazing substance that man has yet to reproduce artificially, and they can build ingenious and beautiful structures to catch their prey. I think they are creatures to admire than fear. But if you are afraid of spiders, one of the best ways to conquer your fear is to draw them.

Stage One
To draw a spider, create a large circle for the abdomen, a kidney shape (sort of) for the head and eight lines for each of the spider's eight legs. On either side of the spider, a set of three legs are positioned by the head end and one leg positioned by the abdomen pointing upwards.

Stage Two

Next we focus on the pattern on the abdomen. Of course, each species have a different pattern, but for this drawing I am doing a garden spider. Another name for this spider is the cross spider because the white spots resemble a cross. I start at the bottom of the abdomen and draw a set of dots along its back before spreading out to either side of this line of dots, applying the rest of the detail. The legs are created by drawing round the lines with a narrow space inbetween and adding small black dots inside them. There are also two leg like things by the head end to draw. These are called palps and are the sexual organs of a spider.

Stage Three

Redraw the spider in pen and shade in any dark or hairy areas. Along the side of each leg, lightly flick an extremely short line for each hair.

Stage Four

Colour in your spider. Try and avoid colouring over the white spots as best you can.

Web Stage One

The web that orb weaver spiders, such as my garden spider, is a complex structure, but is reasonably simple enough to draw. First, draw lines radiating out and around the spider. Then starting at the top of the web, weave rows of lines through the radiating spokes, gradually getting smaller and more compact towards the centre of the web.

Web Stage Two

Finally, redraw in pen and rub out the pencil. Working each section of the web at a time helps to adjust and neaten the shape of the web.

Stage One

My next drawing demonstrates how to draw leggy spiders. The common house spider is a good example of a leggy spider. Drawing spiders with long legs can cause a few headaches as they can cross over one another. Here is how I deal with this problem. Draw two ovals for the head and abdomen and then draw the eight legs. These legs are created with long double lines and each leg is divided into three to four sections to represent the bends in the joints.

Stage Two

Next I readjust the body shape and add any body pattern and features. The best way in dealing with the legs so that they do not cause confusion when I redraw the spider in pen is to shade them in. I actually only shade the legs on the side of the spider facing us as dark as possible and a lighter shade on the legs on the other side. Leave a small gap in the legs where the joints are.

Stage Three
When you redraw your spider in pen, draw the legs on the nearest side first. Draw around each of the dark shaded legs, adding any detail within them (light shading and the joints). Then draw around the legs on the far side of the spider, leaving a gap whenever the legs you have already drawn in pen crosses over. As you redraw each leg, you can draw sections of the body as you go along. Don't forget to draw the hairs on the legs when are finished redrawing everything and rub out the pencil marks.

Stage Four

Complete your spider by colouring it in.

Stage One

As it is Halloween, I thought it would be appropiate to make my final drawing for today a tarantula. Tarantulas are the largest kind of spiders in the world. Though they can only be found in the tropics in the wild, tarantulas are popular pets across the world. Drawing a tarantula is similar to when I was drawing my garden spider, just much bigger. A large circle for the head, an oval for the abdomen and the eight legs and two palps. The legs are drawn like a link of three sausages.
Stage Two

Shade in your tarantula, leaving parts of the legs white as well as a 'ring' around the centre part at the head end.

Stage Three

Shade in the black parts of your tarantula and link the outlines of the white areas on the legs with the black parts in pen. Rub out the pencil lines.

Stage Four

Colour in your tarantula. I have added a bit of shadow to make the tarantula a little bit more 3D looking. And my tarantula drawing is complete!

I hope this has inspired you to draw these amazing creatures. Hopefully, this How To Draw has cured your fear of spiders. If it hasn't, I hope my drawings haven't fightened you! Until next time, happy Halloween! Mwhahahaha!!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Oct 28th Strumpshaw Fen

Halloween at Strumpshaw!
Guess what? It is raining again at Strumpshaw on a Wednesday morning! It began as I reached the top of the road leading to the reserve. This road is prone to flooding and today was pretty bad, so bad that cars were diverted and the road was closed. Thankfully, as I was on foot and could walk around it. However, I still got wet from the rain. It was relentless and remained for most of the morning. I had no umbrella with me this time. It was a horrible day!

It is Halloween this week, as well as half term and Strumpshaw's latest activity trail for children to do while off school happens to be a spooky theme. The trees around the woodland trail are decorated with scary eyes, bats and a manner of other things. It is a shame that the weather is preventing families from arriving this morning.

A spooky tree
A spooky bat!
Another spooky tree!
Blocking my path to Fen Hide!
Even though it was raining, I decided to pop into Fen Hide before my shift began. But when I got to the top of the path leading towards the hide, I came across a moment of deja vu. I was being blocked by the same heron from last week. It was standing in my way... again! It seemed preoccupied, as if hunting something on the edge of the path. I was getting wet and I wanted to get into the dry of the hide fast, so I walked onwards. This made the heron move, but only a few feet further down the path. I ended up walking the heron down to the hide before it finally took off. There wasn't much about in the hide and after spending some time watching the rain while talking to some of the other brave souls who ventured to the hide before me this morning, I made my way back to the Reception Hide. Guess who was waiting for me outside Fen Hide? Yep, the heron was blocking my path yet again!

Grey Heron
Carrion Crow
It was a good day for ducks. The mallards, teal, gadwall and shoveler were happy enough feeding in the rain and swimming around the lake in front of Reception Hide. Not so much fun for the marsh harriers, who were soaring over the reedbeds dispite the poor conditions. A kingfisher made three quick visits during my shift and a bittern flew over the far reedbed. Other than that, it was rain, rain and more rain.
Black-headed Gull
Rain, rain and more rain!

Marsh Harrier
Female Shoveler

Eventually, the weather eased off a bit, building up to the biggest highlight to lighten up this miserable morning. I had just finished eating my lunch when one of our few visitors of this morning sitting with me spotted a bittern. In typical bittern fashion, it has sneaked in under the radar and was standing out in the open by the reedbed in front of the hide. The word had soon spread and the hide was full with nearly every member of staff on duty in the office to see it. One of my collegues wished it would move a little bit, but as she said that out loud, it disappeared into the reeds just as more staff members arrived.

It wasn't gone for long though, as it reappeared again a few minutes later, poking its head out a little further along the reedbed. It then came out, creeping even closer towards us. It posed on top of a small mound in the area cleared by strimming. We watched it morph its body into many shapes. From crouching into a small stalking creature to stretching upright with its bill in the air, resembling a section of reedbed the best it could. The bittern even did a strange shaky wobble dance to make the section of reedbed it was pretending to be look as if a breath of wind has blown against it! The bittern was with us for 15-20 minutes before finally taking off. One of the best bittern sightings I have had at Strumpshaw for some time.
Can you spot the bittern?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

How To Draw: Trees

Trees are more than parts of the landscape. Get close to one and you will see that it has a character and a personality that seperates it from the other trees surrounding it. Trees like oaks and beeches are the best examples of this, especially ones that have been growing for hundreds of years. There are so many ways to draw these trees thanks to the shapes created by the various number of branches, hollowed or arched trunks and the different colours in the leaves throughout the seasons. With so many possibilities to draw, it makes these woody giants a real challenge. But it doesn't matter if you are drawing one or a forest of them, if you keep practising, you will soon find that trees are a fun subject to do.

Stage One
To begin with, draw in the rough size and shape of your tree. At this stage, just focus on the trunk and the general shape of the tree's canopy, don't worry about the branches just yet. If you are drawing a mature oak tree like I am, the trunk can be wide but short  compared to the canopy which can be wider and large. If you are drawing trees with tall, slender trunks like pines or birches, then all you need to do is to draw two lines parallel to each other with the rough shape of the canopy above it. Remember to draw the trunk arched or leaning slightly if your tree aquires it.

Stage Two

The best place to start after you have drawn the basic shapes is the trunk. Start at the base of your tree, the roots, and work your way up. Add any detail to the bark along the way such as growths, holes, grooves, etc. When you reach the canopy, don't draw the branches yet. Instead, just mark out where the main limbs begin with two lines with a gap between them. The only exception for now are the lower branches, you can draw them a little bit further until they begin to spread into thinner branches.

Stage Three
Before we get to the branches, redraw the trunk in pen. This way you will be less in a muddle later and it also gives you a chance to adjust the size and shape of the trunk. When adjusting the trunk's size, start at the one side with the most lower branches on it, then using features like growths, etc or even when adding the bark's texture (a light scribble will do nicely for that) to help you reach the other side. Add a bit of texture to the ground too (again, a simple scribble will do).

Stage Five
Stage Four
With the trunk redrawn in ink, it is now time to deal with those pesky branches. What I do is not to draw every branch at once, but to work on the tree in sections. Work on one section at a time, first in pencil (Stage Four) and again in pen (Stage Five) before working on the next section of the tree. It is best to be observent when drawing branches. On each section, pay attention to how each branch grows. Shade in the more wavy, overlapping ones and leave the other ones as double lines that get thinner the further away from the tree it gets.

Stage Six
Eventually, you will get a tree full of branches like this. If your tree has a cover of leaves, you will not need to worry too much about the branches. But instead of drawing every leaf individually (unless they are large and quite noticable), just shade and scribble in the area and density of leaves. If your tree has clumps of leaves like my oak tree does, then when redrawing the branches in pen, leave a gap in the branch's structure and do a patch of light scribbles.

Stage Seven

If you want to add other trees surrounding your tree, then this is how to do it, otherwise skip these stages to the colouring stage. First draw a line for the horizon just a quarter way up from the base of the trunk. Then add your trees in (which should be simple line structures). The trees closer to your main tree are drawn below the horizon line, while trees further away are above or on the line. For foreground trees, draw a line representing side of a tree trunk partially overlapping parts of your main tree's branches and shade in and add any details such as growths and pertruding branches, etc. 
Stage Eight

Redraw in pen, shading in the ground and any background vegitation in the process.

Stage Nine

Colour in your tree and background. Here, the trees bark have a light coating of brown and applying green over the top of it. I went a bit impressionistic with the leaves. As it is autumn, I scribbled in patches of orange, green and yellow and overlapped each colour slightly. Then I used my pen to scribble in some texture and to make the impression of very thin branches. I used my pen on the ground too to create texture.

And that is how I draw trees. Of course every tree is different, but the drawing technique is the same. Some trees have blotchy bark, but this effect is simple enough to do by shading differently to other parts of the bark. The four seasons will give you more reasons to draw trees, as a diciduous tree will appear differently with each season. Evergreen trees, such as pines and yews, won't change too much throughout the year, but can also be great to draw too. So get out there, kick up some leaves and draw some trees near you!