15 January 2004

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Your January 15th, 2004
YouCanDraw.com Caricature


Howdy all,


In today's ezine: Drawing Gandalf

Hope you East Coasters are staying warm and snug - been quite a Winter out there!
Seems like you're getting our usual Minnesota Winter weather. We're actually more
than happy to share :-).  On to today's drawing: Ian McKlellen a.k.a. Lord of the Rings
big cheese "Gandalf".

Some background

The drawing was done on Canson 70 pound Acid-free drawing paper, bright white,
medium tooth...I had to look - I must have 11 pads of different kinds of drawing paper
within reach of my computer. Pencil used: a Sakura "SumoGrip" with 0.9 mm lead
which I bought in Los Angeles at Halloween from Aaron Brothers. It's become my
favorite pencil - but they've been impossible to come by in Minneapolis stores. Guess
I'll have to get me  back to LA to buy some more :-) It has a very forgiving lead, almost
silky especially when used on some toothy paper. I think that's why I like it - it makes
the drawing draw itself. (Sometimes I'll grab an old #2 Faber - your typical yellow test
taking pencil and the lead seems so hard it gouges the paper. Even gives a mini
"screech" just like you get when you scrape your nails on a chalk board. Know what
I mean? I don't like that :-) ...I'm babbling.

So Anyway, what makes Gandalf drawable

The first thing that hits me is the nose - bulbous - with the tip pointing well below the
lowest edge of the nostrils. In the caricature, I don't think the down-pointing tip was
exaggerated as much as it could have been but the overall bulk was captured so the
nose still works. Also note the shadowing: shadows drawn as shapes first then filled
in with hatching. The overall realistic effect hatched-in shadow-shapes produce always
boggles me. The sum almost always greater than the parts. BUT don't forget to see the
light areas as shapes as much as the shadow shapes.

The eyes

Dark, almost black eye brows contrast with the Johnny/Edgar Winter albino white hair.
The eyelids - more specifically the lower edge of the lids where they touch the iris of
the eye slant down as you move from the nose side out to the temples. Again, this could
have been played up a lot more in the drawing. Also, and this is biggee - the folds of skin
under the eyes seem to layer over and over on Gandalf, almost like deflated balloons.
I don't say that to be nasty - it's just an accurate way of describing them. This is a fact
too: the skin around the eyes is the thinnest in the body. (That's why if your'e overtired
or having an allergic reaction or hay fever it's one of the places that swells first.)


Obvious enough: a major funneling down to the upper lip and mustache. Start wide
around the eyes and narrow them right down to the edge of the nose. And if you look
close you can even see a mistake: I drew the naso-labial fold (the fold of skin that starts
at the edge of the nose and cups the mouth) much larger on the first pass. So much
larger I'd have run out of paper on the bottom of the picture. So see if you can see the
extra set of lines that look like flying buttresses on Paris' Notre Dame cathedral.

I could have started over but in the last few years I've definitely learned to "hang" with
a picture without starting over no matter how off the mark it's heading. It's good training
too! And this picture turned out well too.

Heading south...

To the mouth....(or to the Bahamas  if you're an NYC or Nordeaster person). Gandalf's
mouth / upper lip are pretty much buried in hair like a sheep dog's eyes. But they are
distinctive: a thin upper lip that comes to a point in Cupid's Bow (the very center part
of the upper lip) and this infringes well into the pulp of the lower lip. The overall size
of the that fine line that makes up the upper lip is quite a bit wider than the lower lip
too. Capture the shape of skin around the mouth and chin not covered in beard and
you do as much for capturing Gandalf's distinct look as anything else you can do.

Speaking of hair

He really has fleecy white, fine hair - so just a few long parallel lines / contours will
pass for the hair.  Drawing a white beard is more by suggestion than by actual drawing.
What's that mean? Look at how the bulk of the beard has no lines in it at all. The edges
are where all the action is - save for a few shadows that suggest grain within the beard.

Adding Perspective

For fun I stuck in the staff and the hand - and it was almost shocking to me how
much that added to the overall composition. Do a sighting on the span of the hand
from pinky to first finger - compare that to the overall size of the face. Any conclusions?
To  me the hand looks much bigger than it is. Also, do a sighting on the THUMB. It's
a little tricky. Put a pencil right to your computer screen and trace out the thumb.
Note where it's edges intersect the staff and the other fingers. (It's hid behind the


Lastly a couple notes on the shading - most notably the shading on the hand and
the staff. How did I do the shading? This is an old but simple trick: on a piece of
scratch paper pile up pencil until the paper is almost shiny with lead. Then rub your
finger right into it. Then rub your leaded-up finger right into the paper where you want
to add a shadow. Voila! This is exactly how the shadowing was added on the pole,
er staff, and on the fingers. Lot's faster than hatching :-)

Also, ask yourself this: how was the cylinder effect of the staff produced? Answer:
Look at the curve of the shadows under the fingers and the area of paper left white
on the "face-side" of the staff alongside the shadow. See it? Might take a little
sleuthing. You'll find it :-)

Finding more photos

There's tons of "Lord of the Rings" photos on the web. Go to Google and type in
"Lord of the Rings" or Gandalf. Get the first page of results then without touching
anything else, click "images" at the top of the page. You'll get tons of pictures. (I'll
guess you'll have no problem finding the picture I drew this drawing from.)


So, stay warm in the northern hemisphere, cool in the southern  and everybody
keep on drawing!



p.s. - here's Gandalf:

Jeffrey O. Kasbohm
Executive Director
Kasbohm & Company Strategic Multimedia
home of
http://www.YouCanDraw.com and

(952) 544-0657
1351 Hampshire Ave. So., #127
St. Louis Park, MN  55426

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