Realistic Drawings In Pencil - The Sorting Pen

When making realistic pencil drawings, composition is a major consideration. During the layout of this composition, I was captivated by the dynamic right/left movement of the cowboy sorting calves to be turned out later to summer pasture. The horse is going one way, and the calves the other. Only when you see that the corner of the pen has helped the cowboy turn the calves around do you see the reason for the difference in direction.

Let's get drawing!

As I usually work from left to right to avoid smudging the drawing, I start first with the calves and work my way across the drawing surface. It takes a fair amount of pencil shading to get the dark values of the black calves right. That sets the tone for the rest of the drawing.

I lay in the fence of rough-sawn boards like a row of crooked teeth. These boards provide a sturdy, reliable fence that keeps the cows in. I’ve seen a cow go right through one of those green metal gate corrals like it was nothing!

Phew. Lots of cows to draw. Each one has its own personality. I work on the foreground as well, bringing in shadows and textures that add interest to the drawing.

Now it’s time to start on the horse. It’s harder for me to draw a horse going this direction. Starting a pencil drawing with the head first lets me set the values and create emphasis easier. But that's OK.

I lay in the values of the horse and part of the saddle, and concentrate on the cowboy figure. The light in this drawing is coming from almost overhead, which makes weird shadow patterns on the horse. To make the pencil drawing look realistic, I struggle to make sense of them. The rider’s arm casts a long shadow over the hindquarters of the horse, and until I get more of the horse and rider done, it bothers me.

There, that’s better. I spend some time working on the cowboy and finishing the saddle. There’s a lot that goes into this stage. The cowboy’s face is in deep shadow and his features are hard to make out. The shadows and folds in his shirt help indicate motion. The jeans are lighter than the shirt, but not by much. Getting the texture of jeans takes some work, but I think I've got it.

I continue to block in the front half of the horse. Something’s bothering me. I struggle with it and decide to remove the breast collar on the horse that I’d added earlier. At this stage there’s a lot of going back and forth, changing little things all over the drawing.

When I create these realistic pencil drawings, getting the values right is always on my mind. I think I was successful in making those calves look like Black Angus. And the horse is coming along nicely.

Check in tomorrow for the big finish. Thank you for viewing my artwork. Or click here for part 2.

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