i got several requests to see the process of my reading fox design, and so i’ve created this blog post which should give hope to everyone out there who thinks they “can’t draw.” i’m surprised to find that it feels a little scary to show you all of my rough drafts and to talk about my process, but i always find other people’s process posts so interesting and inspiring, so i’m diving in. my guess is that this post will be pretty wordy and picture-heavy, so apologies to anyone who just came here to see pictures of the baby. you might want to skip this post.
okay. my first step when i’m working out a new drawing idea is to make a sketch just out of my brain and onto the paper. this helps me to figure out what i need work on and i keep hoping that someday that first sketch will turn out “not too bad” and that at least part of it will end up in my final design. that was not the case with my fox. here’s my original, very first rough draft:
yes, i suppose the tail stayed sort of the same, but that’s the easiest, most distinctive part of a fox, so no surprise there. however, this drawing (is that a wolf or a dog?) did help me to realize that i wasn’t sure what made a fox face distinctively “foxy,” so i went online to google images and did a search for a line drawing of a fox and remembered that they had white cheeks/eye areas, so i tried again (sorry for the soft focus, but you get the idea):
definitely on the right track, but somehow still a little more hunchbacked than i’d like it to be and i wasn’t sure how i was going to add a book into that sketch and not hide the fox’s face, and it just was more scary and less cute than i was hoping for. i can’t remember if it was at this point or at the next sketch, but at some point, i remembered a recent post on small fox’s blog where she talked about this super cute fox mini-quilt that pinktrees had made for her, so i went to look at that fox. this fox is sitting at a similar angle, so it might have been at this point.
but then i just decided to sketch pinktrees’ fox almost verbatim to try to better understand the construction of her drawing (is that kosher in the art world? or is it plagiarizing?):
definitely starting to look more like a fox, but … how was i going to get a book into her hands? and make the design my own (not just steal pinktrees’ design)?
here you can see where i experimented with putting a fox head on one of my typical monster bodies and then put a big fat back leg on it. getting cuter, but still not quite right and hard to put on a stamp. i also experimented with some of the whisker designs i’d seen on google images and some different noses. then, i quit sketching for the day and put my notebook aside to let the ideas percolate for a little bit.
the next time i picked up the sketch was (shhhh….) during a lecture in my class at library school. you can see some of my monsters lurking around the edges of this sketch, but then i remembered the fox and i started working on her again:
you can see that the head tilt from pinktrees remained, but i reverted back to my sort of “hunchback” body shape. i was still not loving the paws on the fox on the left (the not-colored-in one), but i did like the way that the right-hand fox’s paws looked. if i remember correctly, i had (at some point between the first day of sketching and the second) gone to frizzelstix’s website because i remembered that she had also drawn some awesome foxes for small fox and i wanted to see what she did for feet. the skinny black feet were inspired by her (again–plagiarism or par for the course? please tell me if i’m doing something wrong! i don’t want to offend!) here are two more attempts from that day:
definitely settling in to this body shape and i played with a few different foot designs. again, put it aside (concentrate on the lecture!) and let it stew on the back burner for awhile.
the next time i picked it up, i knew i needed to figure out how to get the book in her hands. i started with a warm-up fox to remind myself again how it looked and to try out the feet with toes:
then i put a book in one paw:
ouch! that looks painful! let’s try both paws:
bingo! that’s the one. i knew it as soon as i sketched it. although i wasn’t sure if she needed a hind leg or not, so i did a quick mock-up:
and decided that simple was best and this turkey leg thing wasn’t necessary for my fox. i don’t have photos of me carving the fox (the only tricky part was figuring out what was going to be positive and negative space) but here’s the photo of the final fox again:
a few days lapsed between my last sketch and the sketch i drew to make this stamp, so some slight morphing happened, but i am so happy with the way she turned out and it’s also so freeing to just throw that whole “i can’t draw” excuse out the window and say instead, “i’m discovering my own artistic style.”
and if you want to see a great process video on how to carve a stamp (the one that i watched that taught me how to carve a stamp), check out this one from the very inspiring geninne (3rd post down on this page).
it’s been awhile since i’ve done a giveaway here at happy stuff, so let’s have one! here’s the set-up: you give me an idea for a stamp design (like, “fox reading a book” or “octopus in a bowler hat”) and i’ll pick my favorite idea(s) and if i can figure out how to draw it, i’ll send you a free stamp! i reserve the right to sell the design later in my etsy shop if i ever get around to putting my stamps in my shop (i’m currently waffling on whether the stamps are of consistent enough quality and whether i can really charge a price that is tempting enough to shoppers and fair enough to me for the realistic amount of time i put into creating them) and i make no promises that the stamp will be mailed to you anytime this year (i have a new baby in the house–have you heard?), but the winner(s) will eventually be rewarded for their excellent idea. feel free to suggest as many ideas as you want.