Monday, February 09, 2015


There are some animals that are hard to get unique references for. I would venture to say that a hippo is one of them. They rarely come out of the water, and when they do, they are usually eating or sleeping (especially zoo hippos). The open-mouthed hippo is also fairly common in photographs and art. So when a hippo at my zoo gave me this photo opportunity, I knew it would become one of my drawings.

hippo - base layer of tattoo needles and sandpaper

Last week my featured drawing was done using the finish-one-spot-then-move-on method. I worked small areas to completion then moved to a new area. Here, I used an all-at-once method, working the whole board. For the first step, I wanted to put in the base layer. I used flat shader tattoo needles and sandpaper to block in the overall shape.

hippo - adding wrinkles
Then I coated the whole thing with a diluted ink wash. This helps to smooth out the values and minimize brush strokes. I continued by adding lines with a dip fountain pen with black ink. These lines will become the shadow side of the wrinkles. And, since I couldn't help myself, I started adding highlights around the face.

hippo - more wrinkles
Here, I used a thick round tattoo needle for the highlight side of the wrinkles.

hippo - adding highlights
Finally, I used the curved knife blade to scratch out the bright highlights of the glistening water. I didn't like how the left side was turning out, so I scraped it down, re-inked, and started that part over with the sandpaper.

hippo - final
The in-progress photos were taken in more natural light, so you can see some marks where I wiped the dust away with a tissue, or the ink dust sitting on the board. This final image is the cleaned-up version, more in tune with the real final drawing.

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