Our Rats are Low

I have been dreaming about rats, although thinking about it, it might have been a very large gerbil, but its probably because I have been drawing rats lately. I think it is true that we often relive or make sense of our waking experiences in our dreams and I have produced a few illustrations involving rats so far, so I decided one more couldn’t hurt.

I rather like rats – there are, perhaps, way too many wild ones for us humans but I think they are inquisitive and intelligent, if a little blood thirsty , gnarly and low. And they are part of the clean-up crew so need fair representation.

Rat

I experimented with pastel pencils, watercolour, watercolour pencils and ink. I don’t want to talk about the ink as it didn’t end well, but the other experiments paid off and I drew (using watercolour and watercolour pencils) a rat that had clearly been up to no good.

I worked with damp paper, dropping in a background wash and then, once dry, I added details and textures with the watercolour pencils. Some of this was blended with a damp brush and then sharpened up again with the pencils.

These are other rats I have worked on. I am especially proud of The Feast (one in graphite) – it married very well with my mission to draw hands and practice gesture. The bonus of the hand being consumed by Low creatures is that wonky bits can easily be blamed on the little nibblers!

Bibliography and Inspiration

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Music I listened to

Chronicles of the Wasteland/ Turbo Kid Original Motion Picture Soundtrack  –  Le Matos, 2015

The Devil Wears Prada – Space EP

Faith and the Muse – various

The Gnarly Knuckle

I’ve been doing some work on hands – it’s something I’ve really started to love to draw – they are not that easy and just to make life even harder I like to choose really awkward poses – it’s rewarding to draw, more interesting to look at and sometimes a gnarly zombie hand emerges from the graphite dust just begging for some rot to be added to its suffering limbs, and what’s not to like about that!?

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Hand drawn in graphite

The first drawing was done from some photos of my hand and arm in tense gestures. I wanted all the tendons to show so I could try getting the tension down on paper. I think I succeeded and the next step was to re-do the piece in watercolour pencil, like another zombie hand I made recently.  I used tracing paper to transfer the image and I did a little research (see bibliography) to figure out what level of rot and bone exposure I would be going for.

I traced it onto a watercolour background I had painted previously – I like practicing washes and trying different colour mixes to create atmosphere, and I always try and make them with possible backgrounds for drawings in mind – it’s less wasteful!

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The Gnarly Knuckle – gnarled with watercolour pencils

For this drawing, I intentionally used a lot more watercolour pencil than I would normally go for as I wanted the hand to look like old, rotten, dirty skin – perhaps a little too much in retrospect as there were some areas that looked a little too muddy even for a dead thing – so, I re-wet the areas I wasn’t happy with and lifted some of the colour off with some clean kitchen paper. I then used a clean, wet brush to blend and pull the colours around until I was happy. Once dry, I went back in with the watercolour pencil and tidied up any lost lines or little details I wanted to keep. I will probably do more pieces like these – it’s excellent practice and seriously good for ones calm.

Bibliography and Inspiration:

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

3dtotal.com

Craftsy.com

Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

Siouxie and the Banshees-  Hyaena

The Chameleons

Requiem in White