Bird and Bear Portrait Project, Copics

Bird and Bear
9″ x 12″, Copic markers on 150 lb smooth drawing paper

This is the final version of a commissioned portrait for a quirky bird girl and burly bear guy, getting married in about three weeks. The project took closer to three months. Most of that time was filled with mild panic and her unhelpful cousin, procrastination. Hooray!

I don’t do portraits, neither people nor pets. But I often do beasts, and often in clothes. So I figured I would give it a shot, with my friend’s promise he would not take it if he did not want it.

Three items were produced for this project. A pencil sketch, which I chose not to ink over – sort of a contingency plan in case the inking never worked out quite right:

Final sketch, Bird and Bear

I was worried about two things. One, that all the erasing would affect the marker coverage, and two, that I wouldn’t be able to reproduce the image as well again if I mucked it up.

So, I bought my first lightbox (with a 40% off one item coupon at my local Dick Blick’s) and used that to ink a clean sheet. Actually, I should back up a moment. I also used the lightbox to reduce the size of the image, by scanning it, shrinking it by a couple inches, printing it, then re-creating the pencil sketch, but smaller and with better detail. THEN I got another clean sheet and started inking.

The first inked version got off to a bad start when I made his pupils too big. Then I overworked the thing to death trying to adjust the colors.

Bird and Bear, first color version

Still, I could have stopped here, finished it in a bit more, and called it a day. But his hair is too dark and his snout far too short. And her feather too long. So I inked a whole new one and started over. And it not only went far more quickly than the first, it came out much better. (I think.) Yay!

Lots of progress pics, including some early bird and bear sketches. Thanks for visiting!

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18 thoughts on “Bird and Bear Portrait Project, Copics

  1. nini

    Whoa Cindy! You keep amazing us! What a lovely thing to do for your cousin.
    I just love how they both progressed to their final look. And I love the final result too.

    I think that light-box is something we all (and by this I mean ppl who draw) should have… I’ve been thinking about making one for myself for such a long time now (they are a bit pricey plus I don’t think I can get one here at all… naaah, they probably sell it somewhere but I really don’t want to know how much they’d charge me). Anyways… one of these days I shall make one… at least a better working thing than using my coffee table and a little lamp under it’s glass :D In other words – I’m a bit jealous right now ;)

    1. The Beast Tender Post author

      Thank you! The light box was not too bad. $50 – $20 for the coupon. About $30. And I hope to get a lot of use out of it. It fit my 9×12 sheet with a little room to spare. And there were plenty of more expensive models but I don’t need too fancy! :)

  2. clara nilles

    Wow…lovely commission……and a wonderful wedding gift! Will they use it on their invitations? I know several artists that design custom wedding invitations illustrations.
    I have never used a lightbox for anything…….my paintings are all on canvas……I guess too thick for lightbox…….I always thought it was for photographers. How exactly do yo use it for pencil sketches?

    1. The Beast Tender Post author

      Hi Clara! Thank you! I just taped the sketch lightly to the light box and then lightly taped (just at the top) a clean sheet on top of it. With the light on the image came through quite clearly so I was able to sketch right over it. For the second version, with his longer nose, I even moved the paper around a bit. I think it may be a handy tool to have! Though, I have no plans to take any more commissions any time soon. So stressful! :)

  3. Nuno

    Lightboxes, yeah, they are always useful. I used a very small lightbox when I started to draw, I wanted to use different color combinations over the same design.

    Concerning your commission, I love it!

  4. Sal Scheibe

    That’s really sweet! I think they both turned out really well and of course, your details make it perfect. I’ve always wanted a lightbox but I usually cheap out and resort to a big window, lol. :)

  5. ruthsartwork

    So fun looking! Any kind of portrait produces angst for me. Sometimes you just have dive in and do it. I like the idea of the light box so you can redo something that isn’t quite right.

  6. AnnD

    Worth every bit of mild panic, Cindy! It looks so fantastic. I love all of the different textures in his hair, fur, and beard. You have mad skills with those Copics!

  7. Koosje Koene

    Wow, quite a process! Hooray for your persistance! I’ve taken a project like this once before (in a totally different style of course) and the struggle frustrated me too much – I gave it back.
    Great to see the progress pics here. You did a great job, the result is beautiful!

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