Saturday, 17 September 2011

How to draw a... by Hannah shaw

When I was younger I remember being obsessed a book called ‘How to draw horses’. I spent HOURS trying to copy the pictures in it. Who knew that horses were made up of a series of jelly bean shapes and circles? I still find it difficult to draw horses (it’s the legs) but when I find myself getting muddled I try to refer back to the instructions I learnt from that book.

Recently I was asked by Puffin Post to do a double page spread of instructions on how to draw a puffin. They sent me some examples by quite famous illustrators like Ed Vere... I panicked, I’d never drawn a puffin before! This is where Google images was, I shamefully admit, a life-saver. In defence, it was unlikely I would have been able to see a live puffin anywhere in a 100 mile radius (Bristol Zoo perhaps?). It is even more unlikely I would have been able to get close enough to draw one. I used Google images a bit like the ‘How to draw horses’ book except I had to interpret what I saw from some very romantic photographs of puffins at sunset or puffin landing majestically with fish. I found that breaking down a puffin into essentially a potato shape and then adding all the extra bits like wings and beak worked quite well. 

I worry that the children who had a go at following my ‘How to draw a Puffin’ instructions will think that what they have drawn is an anatomically correct puffin. They definitely haven’t, they only have to do a google image search to see what a real one looks like! However, what they will have, is a unique Hannah Shaw style 'one off' (with two eyes on the side of its head) because as much as I enjoyed doing this, I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be drawing puffins again for a while! 


catdownunder said...

Now that is interesting because you said potato and I looked at your first shape and thought "peanut in a shell"! I do most definitely like your puffins though, especially in a deckchair at the seaside!

Lynda Waterhouse said...

Please continue drawing your puffin characters. Love the fishy ice too. I saw puffins on the Farne Islands. Maybe your How to draw page will inspire some children to research to discover a life long love of birds.

Anonymous said...

I love the two-eyes bit!
Isn't it interesting how google has become the "get your references together" for lots of artists these days.But I, too, still have a shelf full of how to paint, how to draw, how to do pastels, how to etc etc books from my younger days and I still love them. But google is definitely the quick way to check something out and adapt for use.
Love your website btw.

Stroppy Author said...

This is fantastic! I wish you'd been the illustrator for my book about a puffin (Muffin). Not that the illustrator I had isn't good, but your puffins are much more fun. I will now spend the morning drawing puffins instead of writing.

Sue Purkiss said...

I agree - your puffins are lovely!

adele said...

This is a gorgeous post. Love those puffins with two eyes on one side. Love all your artwork, Hannah!

The Time Sculptor said...

I also remember the ‘How to draw horses’ book!
An illustrator in an ad agency I worked for, years ago, had a huge stack of Sunday Times mags under his desk to use for pictorial ref. How much easier to go to Google!

I'd quite like to p-p-pick up one of your p-p-puffins and give it a hug :-)
Jane Gray

Hannah Shaw said...

Thanks for all your kind comments everyone! I may have to do another post on 'how to draw humans' quite possibly the most difficult creature to masterfully interpret with a pencil...and the bit I ALWAYS get stuck on? The hands!