Zebra – in ink and watercolour


This week I drew and painted a zebra.  Again I used a lot of photographic references for the final design.

This is my method.

  • I began by laying out the animal’s shape in a basic form.  Generally when I start to sketch I use single lines for the limbs and polygons for the body and head shapes.  While playing around with this I also take relative measurements using my pencil to get the proportions correct.
  • Once I’ve got the basic shapes and distances down lightly I begin to draw more accurate forms using the polygons as a map to keep my picture accurate.
  • Then I do a bit of a clean up of the polygon and leg lines and any rough areas of my drawing with an eraser and make any adjustments I need.
  • Next I begin to ink the drawing.  I found it useful this time to ink some basic parts of the animal with the finest ink pen I have, a 0.05 Micron.  Then I started to ink the stripes with a thicker pen.  This was SO therapeutic!

  • The hardest thing about the stripes was trying to use them to help define the 3D shape of the zebra’s flanks.  Once I had that done as well as I could, I finished off the ink drawing.

  • Next I began adding watercolour paint.  Zebra that I have seen on film in the wild seem to always have a dusty look to their lower legs and under their bellies so I wanted to bring that colour into the picture.  I also wanted some background terrain colour and some greys to help define shapes and also on the zebra’s nose where he has a greyer colour.
  • I built this up in stages and then it was finished.

Here’s the final painting…



In terms of using ink and watercolour I think this is the most effective animal I’ve ever tried with this combination of media.  The ink lends itself so beautifully to the zebra’s colouring and just a small amount of additional colour really seems to work.

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