Drawing ‘Tuft’ The Giraffe

Sketch For Survival

Drawing Giraffe…

Hello you lot! Whoever ‘you lot’ may be. Maybe you are just one. Perhaps no one will ever read this rambling. Anyway….I wanted to quickly take you through my process of creating this giraffe drawing and the reasons why I chose it.

Last year I attended the ‘Sketch For Survival’ wildlife art exhibition by Explorers Against Extinction. This year I wanted to donate a piece to this initiate, where 100% of proceeds go to fund their conservation projects for the year.

Giraffe Conservation

Last year I was shocked to find out about the massive decline in Giraffe populations. We often think of elephant, rhino and tigers when the words ‘endangered species’ are uttered, but giraffe are now speeding into trouble. Giraffe numbers have declined by 40% in 30 years due to habitat loss and poaching.

Ultimately, more and more species will face the same grizzly fate. If the human population continues to grow we will require more land and seemingly eliminate anything that gets in our way. There are ways around this, but unfortunately none of them are straight forward and often include trying to work on finding a balance between humans and animals. Each year Explorers Against Extinction commit to helping specific projects and it is due to their hard work and others of their kind that we are able to help protect species at risk. I knew after this exhibition that I wanted to donate a giraffe drawing the following year, and so here I am!

Drawing Stuff

GRIDDING – I began the same way I do with all my drawings; by placing a grid over my source photo (an app called ‘Grid’) and then drawing this grid lightly onto my paper.

DRAWING HAIRS – Stop being so lazy and sharpen your flippin’ pencils, Jess.  I must maintain led sharpness to get crisp looking fur! Fur texture is created by layering up in different ways. A mistake I made when first drawing fur was to try and draw the actual hairs, but it’s adding the shadows in between the hairs that create the texture. Note; drawing with coloured pastels is quite the opposite…you can draw each individual hair. Much easier!

BLACK BACKGROUND – I wanted to create a pitch black background for this giraffe drawing as it can be very effective. However, as I explain in the time-lapse below, I wish I had gone about it a different way. I used smooth paper, pan pastel background and graphite pencils. This meant I struggled to create the darker tones of the giraffe using graphite due to the lack of tooth of the paper. Once the black background was added, this meant that the contrast between the different mediums just didn’t look right.

To overcome this I used a black polychromo pencil to add the darker values on top of the graphite. I don’t usually have a problem with mixing media. However, in this case I think a paper with more tooth would have been more forgiving to the different qualities of the pastel and graphite.



Sharpen your pencils you lazy person.

Trial how the mediums work together on a bit of scrap paper first!

Stop bashing your head on the camera.

Don’t smudge pastel all over your hands

Eating a family multipack of biscuits very quickly will make you feel sick.

Prints: Although this original has now been sent off, prints will soon be available in my shop!

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