Zoo Story – Part 1

On our LA Zoo sketchcrawl on Saturday, I took along a bagful of different art supplies because I wanted to experiment drawing the animals using different tools that seemed appropriate for their textures and coloration. I’m going to be scanning them and posting them throughout the week, so please check back if you’re interested in seeing more. The smooth graphic lines of the zebra seemed to lend themself to ink, and our model posed quietly in the shade for quite a long time. Thank you, zebra – you were the most cooperative subject of the day! I scanned and painted it later in Photoshop – my drawing paper doesn’t lend itself to wash.

Next subject: A mother kangaroo who had recently given birth to a little girl “joey.” Following some of the advice given in David Rankin’s Fast Sketching Techniques I used a dark, soft pencil and brought a stomp to smudge the lines. I think this captures some of the feeling of the soft fur of the mother roo who was taking a much needed rest. That big lump under her tail is where her daughter is napping! After scanning the sketch I added a little Photoshop color from a reference photo so you can see the before and after. Rankin is certainly right, drawing with a smudgeable pencil does allow you to get a faster impression with volume – good for drawing animals that won’t hold still.

If you’re in the So. California area (from Santa Barbara to San Diego to San Bernardino) and you’d like the experience of drawing with a group of friendly art-loving people, drop me a note and I’ll put you on our list so you can find out about upcoming get-togethers.


  1. Lin
    May 15, 2006


  2. TeriC
    May 15, 2006

    How fascinating these animals are. Your choice of materials is just perfect! I look forward to seeing the rest of the zoo.

  3. Rissa
    May 15, 2006

    Wow, I really like the zebra. My crazy old grandfather used to call them “sports model donkeys.” I am a complete neophyte, but I love the EDM challenge idea…I just got started. I took a watercolor class and I really loved the medium…and I want to explore it further…right after the oil painting class. LOL

  4. Tami
    May 15, 2006

    whaaa! I do not live in that area and really wish I did, at the moment, as I would love to go along! Your animals are wonderful! I love the lump of little roo! Thanks for the explaination, I was wondering…
    I use a smudging stick alot, just had never thought of using it to draw animals (not that you would be able to recognize them even if I did use a stick) I will try it, just for practice….

  5. Felicity
    May 15, 2006

    That smudgey line is very effective, I must try that. She’s a lovely shape, you’ve caught her perfectly with that sleepy look.

  6. Robin N
    May 15, 2006

    Simple and beautiful both at the same time. Looks like you are using the knowledge you have learned very well. I love pencil lines.

  7. Linda
    May 16, 2006

    Great drawings! The zebra is perfect, and I love the fat bottom on the kangaroo — just right! :-)

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