Detailed drawing – step by step

This week I made a detailed drawing of a Dragonfly. Here’s my step by step process of doing this…

1. First I draw the basic shapes very lightly. Here I’m just looking at the bigger shapes of things. (I have a tendency to jump ahead and include some more detail in this but I try to stop myself from doing that because I need the basic big angles and connections to be right.) So here I was looking at the size of the body compared to the wings, the angle the body was on and the angles of the wings. When I do this basic layout I try not to think about a 3D object in 3D space at all, rather I think about the shapes and relative sizes in 2D only. So, in a way, I never draw an animal or whatever my subject happens to be, I just drew a group of basic shapes. Doing this I don’t have to push my mind through the shape transitions needed for forshortening, I just deal with flat shapes.

(I forgot to photo this stage when I’d finished it, so this is taken just after I’d started to put in a little more detail on the abdomen and wing joints but before I went over all of my lines more accurately.)

The pencils I used for this are two mechanical pencils (I can’t find my Graphgear at the moment.) and a mechanical pencil sharpener to keep things tight.)

2. Once I’ve got my basic shapes looking right, the next stage is to look more carefully at the line directions and angles and redraw all of my outline with greater accuracy and add some more obvious details like the wing joints and abdominal sections.

As I go I use three types of eraser – a thicker pencil eraser, tiny detail pencil eraser and putty…

3. Next I add more of the major details to the wings and refine my linework even more. I quite enjoy this stage as I can see really accurate lines coming out clearly for the first time.

4. Then I went to work on the detail. I began with the wings which have gorgeous patterns in them…

Then finally I added my shading to the body…

My final step was to add a shadow which was a bit tricky because my reference was a cut out digital image and didn’t have one.

Here’s the final drawing…

21 thoughts on “Detailed drawing – step by step

  1. Many thanks! I find details really relaxing so for me it feels good. It’s blocking in a painting that I find frustrating.


  2. I’m glad you liked it.
    Thinking of what you say about childhood and your lovely poem, it’s amazing how playing as children in places that no-one else wants so often seems to yield both treasured memories and tiny tragedies.

    Liked by 1 person

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