Wednesday, July 22, 2009

African Elephant

The African Elephant has always fascinated me. Drawing them is a challenge. Each time the animal moves you have another perspective challenge. Some times the image doesn't even resemble an elephant. It just doesn't look right, but it is. I had to get past that.

I have the opportunity to draw the African Elephant when I visit The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. The Zoo ha three elephants, all of which are female. At present the matriarch is Lisa. She pushed Monica from the position after Cita arrived. Lisa does not know how to handle the job and is a bit rough. The keepers separate either Lisa or Monica when the three are outside. It will take some time before they put all three out in the big yard together. Cita just gets along and knows her place. She is also the oldest.

Monica was born with one tusk. Lisa has both. Cita has both, except that the right tusk faces down instead of forward. She also tucks hay under her tusks to keep it away from the other two.

It is very pleasurable to just stand and watch their behavior. I also spend quite a bit of time cataloging their bodies in my mind. I've done some research and have found the best book for me is "How To Draw Animals" by Jack Hamm. The text is invaluable. The drawings are instructional in nature and show how animals walk, the differences between species, and a lot of other valuable info. Not much on drawing technique, but extensive information on construction. It is rather inexpensive (mine was $9.99).

Just remember that all things are made of simple shapes and we can the add the detail to flesh things out. Enjoy yourself.

Fred R. Crowley


  1. I love these drawings. I would have trouble getting used to movement as well, both trying to capture it and how it looks on paper. Your drawings with their overlaping edges are full of movement. That's what makes them wonderful!

  2. Great job sketching these and fascinating information.

  3. Fred these are so spirited and energetic line. Thanks for the posting.

  4. Fred, what wonderful elephants! You really caught their essential pachydermness! I'll have to check out that book...animals in motion are a constant challenge...

  5. I always love the way you sketch the animals--and you make elephants look elegant, which is quite a feat!

  6. These are great, especially when you click for the bigger pictures...simple lines yet with such energy and detail. Very elephanty!

  7. Thanks for the book recommendation! I've been wanting to get a good animal drawing book.

    Moving animals are such a challenge for me!


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