The more I stare at giraffes, the more I realize just how strange they are. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I learned a lot about giraffes this week while I worked on my current project, painted giraffe rocks. I’d painted a giraffe rock several years ago, but it was such a small little thing, and I hadn’t needed much reference material to paint it. So while I searched for good photos to use as general references, I also ran across a lot of cool facts. Such as:
– There are 9 different subspecies of giraffe, differentiated by coat patterns and where in Africa they can be found
– They are already 6 feet tall at birth
– Their feet are the size of dinner plates
– Giraffes have four compartments in their stomach and chew their cud – just like cows!
(San Diego Zoo’s Animal Bytes: Giraffe)
I always like learning new things about animals. Anyhow, I found a good collection of photos and set to work drawing the giraffes out onto the rock with a white charcoal pencil. It took quite a bit of drawing and redrawing to get the head and neck positions into the least awkward positions, though they’ll still look a little strange until I get some good color and pattern into it. (Well, maybe they’ll always look a little strange; I guess that’s always a possibility when you try to squish such a lanky creature into a round blob.) Once I was satisfied with the charcoal drawing, I penned over it with a permanent pen, and erased all of the charcoal.
The larger giraffe rock, outlined in pen after initially sketching with white charcoal.
Then I mixed two colors of orange, one darker and less vibrant than the other, and painted on their base coats. I worked the two colors together so I could blend them together. I left the bottom of the rocks natural. The bigger giraffe is a rock of a hefty 4 lbs and not the easiest thing to pick up in one hand, so it’s probably not going to be commonly picked up to view the bottom anyways. The smaller one has a rougher bottom, so not as easily painted, and it has a cool natural pattern all on its own anyways.
The base coats of the two giraffes. The necks look a little awkward for now, but hopefully that should be remedied with some more color and detail.
Next I’ll work on the spot patterns. I will likely draw them in first, then paint over them. In the meantime, a photo of my last giraffe (plus a few friends) painted in 2007:
A few of the critters I painted in 2007, including the giraffe on the far left. Quarter for size reference.