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Hello! I have one more elephant for you!

One of my Facebook friends, Debbie Denton, posted this cute elephant to my fb page the other day and I thought it would make a GREAT drawing prompt for today’s assignment!

Even though the book is about drawing imaginary and stylized animals, there is a whole section on drawing from life or photo references. Why? Because I know that, for me, the more I look at, study, and draw “real” animals, the more authentic my stylized critters are.

One non-threatening way to draw from life is to do a BLIND CONTOUR DRAWING. This is a classic exercise (found in most drawing books) that is meant to start training your hands and eyes to work together. Also, since you are not allowed to look at your paper at all, you can just throw out from the beginning any stress about the outcome. (In fact, if it doesn’t look weird when you’re done, you probably peeked by accident!)

Here’s how to do it:


1. Get a ballpoint pen or other permanent marker and a piece of letter-sized paper.  Scroll the blog post down so the photograph of the elephant is in sight.

2. Now, put pen to paper, take a breath, and pick a point (any point) of the elephant’s outside edge (I started mine at the top of the ear on the left). Then, very slowly, start moving your pen and your eyes at the same speed along the edge of the elephant. Keep your eyes fixed to your reference 100% of the time. Don’t forget to breathe!

3. Draw every curve and bump, and continue drawing both the contour edges and interior lines that define the main elephant parts — legs, ears, trunk, etc. — until you have drawn the entire elephant (again, without peeking!).

3. It will be so tempting to look at your paper when you finish drawing a leg, for example, but make it a game for yourself to NOT look. Just make your best guess as to where to begin again, put pen to paper, and continue.

4. When done, look at your “elephant.” Is it weird and wonky? Perfect! Here’s mine:

So what do you do with drawings like this? Well, nothing! Just set them aside, knowing that the NEXT time you try to draw an elephant from your imagination, you will have a much clearer idea of how an elephant’s foot curves, for example. Try it!

Art Giveaway!
I’m giving away these two little “Blobimals on Clouds,” below. It’s about 4″ x 5″ and created using steps from Chapter 3. Just leave a comment below for a chance to win (BONUS: If you do the above assignment, go ahead and comment twice!) I’ll pick the winner randomly on Sunday, September 30th.

And the winner was commenter #7, Carla Dixon!

Have fun drawing today! And, if you like, you can upload your elephants to the Drawing and Painting Imaginary Creatures flickr group!


This post is part of a Two-Week Book Release Celebration for my new book, “Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop with Carla Sonheim.” For the schedule, which includes book and art giveaways, contributing artists features, tutorials, and assignments, click here.