How to draw a foreshortened fish (sea bass)

Fish ForeshorteningDrawing a foreshortened object is not easy. Your brain must overcome it’s ability to understand that the shape of an object does not really change as you observe it from different angles. This object permanence allows you to understand that a frisbee flying toward you does not really change shape as the observed angle changes. When we draw a foreshortened object you must undo this essential observation with your mind and draw the object as you really see it, not as you know it is shaped. Take the long body of a fish. As the fish rotates toward you, it goes from a long profile to a shortened three quarter view, to the compressed front view. Features on the body such as fin locations or the edge of the gill plate get closer together as the body shortens.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step annotated slide show.

How to Draw Fish (part 2)

Learn how to draw and sketch fish and sharks in dynamic poses, breaking the mold of the static scientific illustration. Learn how a living fish looks under water and how this is different than what is drawn in classic fish illustration. This class will prepare you for sketching from live specimens in your fish tank or at an aquarium. This workshop emphasizes two key points: use of parallel guides and observing the planes of your subject.

How to Draw Songbirds (video workshop)

posture wrenHow can you sketch the songbirds you discover along the trail or on your feeder at home? Those little birds seem to be always on the move but with a few tricks up your sleeve and knowledge of fundamental bird anatomy you can do it. In this workshop, learn: basic anatomy for the artist, simplifying what you see, sketching multiple positions of moving birds, visual memory tricks, how to focus on the most important details, ways to add a hint of habitat, and juggling your sketchbook, pencils, and binoculars.

How to draw ducks and waterfowl (video workshop)

bufflehead sbs 30Ducks and other waterfowl are extremely cooperative subjects. Yes they move, but they love napping if plain sight and will stick around for you to draw. Learn the details of duck anatomy that are relevant for field sketchers and bird artists. Discover tricks to get down the shape quickly and easily, even on a bird that is moving. Learn the basic feather groups and how to imply feather detail. Discover how to draw duck heads that look like duck heads. Learn how to suggest feathers without drawing every one. Learn new secrets of duck posture. Plus a reflection review as it applies to waterfowl.

How to Draw a Trout: step-by-step

Trout are beautiful and hearty fish. I grew up sharing Sierra lakes with these amazing creatures. In this step-by-step demonstration, we walk through the process of illustrating one of these fish. With watercolor, it works best to start with the lightest values and build up into the darkest layer by layer. Here I use the glazing technique in which subsequent layers of paint are applied on top of existing layers once the paper is dry. In the course of this demonstration I make a few mistakes. Watch how I correct them as the painting develops.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step annotated slide-show of how to draw a trout.


Sketching Shorebirds (video workshop)

stilt postureDrawing shorebirds will train your eye to capture the subtlety and nuance of shape and the contrast of size. At high tide, shorebirds will flock together making comparison and sketching much easier. Learn the details of wader anatomy that are relevant for field sketchers and bird artists. Discover tricks to get down the shape quickly and easily, even on a bird that is moving. Learn the basic feather groups and how to imply feather detail. Discover the variation in bill shapes and how to draw them. Master tricks for drawing the long kinked necks of herons and egrets and learn to draw legs and balance your birds.

Black-back Butterfly Fish step-by-step

Blocking in the posture, proportions, and negative space body angles are the first steps in drawing a fish. You may see a parallel here to drawing birds, mammals, and everything else- it is the same system, just a different subject. Before you add any detail, block in these elements. If you add color with watercolor as in this demonstration, start with lighter values and work your way into the darks.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step slide show.

How to get started Nature Journaling (video workshop)

Nature Journal Club outing & Elkhorn Slough - Moss Landing, CA,So you want to keep a nature journal or bump your current practice to a higher orbit. This workshop will help you see the possibilities of what a journal can be and how to move from new years resolutions to a life changing habit.

  • Learn the practices that makes journaling a lifelong habit (and what does not work).
  • Discover how to set up your journaling kit.
  • Journal kit show and tell
  • explore field tested logistics of sketching in the field.
  • Learn the foundational framework to help you draw any subject.

Fish Anatomy for Artists

Uunderstanding fish structure and the functions of fish anatomy will help you see details of the animals you are trying to draw and train your eye to look for critical features. Study these drawings and then look for these features on live fish, specimens, or photos. You can view an amazing searchable database of fish photographs including scientific specimens and photos taken in nature at Fishpix. The more you understand what you see, the easier it will be for you to get what you observe down on paper.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step slideshow.

How to Draw Mushrooms (video workshop)

Rain is falling? It’s mushroom time! Fungi are a delight to sketch and paint. Learn a simple approach to sketching mushrooms and some of the most common errors that can creep into your fungus sketching. In this workshop, we explore techniques with graphite pencil, watercolor and colored pencils.

The Best Mushroom Tricks Ever…

There are two tricks that will make you mushroom gills look great. The first is to pay attention to the orientation of the gills. All the gills should point to the center of the mushroom. This is not as easy as it sounds. As you start to draw in the gills there is a strong tendency to point the gills to the outer corners of the stalk. Avoid this temptation. Click on the first image below to start an annotated slide show.

Russula emeticaThe second trick is to darken the shadows between the gills in the middle (the part where the gills face toward or away from you), and only suggest the gills on the sides (where the gills run perpendicular to your line of sight). This is because you can look down between the gills in the middle and only along the tops of the gills (no shadows) on the sides.

Note: in the early part of this video, the view of the screen is washed out- but don’t give up, it gets better…


Here is a second presentation of the same lecture- some details explained in a different way. The workshop is in three parts.