Live Lessons: "Elephant" - Graphite

Elephant with Graphite Drawing Lesson Series
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This lesson series features:
10 Hours of Instruction
10 Videos

About This Lesson Series...

Learn how to draw an elephant with graphite pencils from start to finish. Learn how to lay out the drawing with accuracy and create textures with various grades of graphite pencils.

Resources for this Lesson...


Photo Reference

Finished Result

Here's what you'll need...

  • Stonehenge paper (Warm White)
  • Drawing pencils
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Blending stumps

Lesson Discussion

  1. Hello Matt! I know I will love this series. I have a question about the paper. I have recently acquired a large supply of paper (mostly watercolor). But I also have other papers… except for Stonehenge. Since I am on a budget, I am trying to determine which of the papers I have would be the best alternative. So, I have Canvas Paper (from Strathmore); Aquabee Co-Mo (820) said to be all purpose sketch book although it has a slight texture to it; Ingre paper for charcoal and pastel from JM Paillard – a defunct French company; charcoal paper from Demco and, finally, I have Bristol paper from Canson. If you don’t mind, could you suggest the “best alternative” to approach the Stonehenge texture? Sorry I can’t provide more information on some of these papers. Thank you for your assistance. I am hoping you will have a chance to respond to this in the next recording of the live lesson as it is possible that I won’t be able to join the live lesson. Thanks again.

  2. Hi Patricia,

    Sorry I missed your question earlier! I would go with the Bristol paper by Canson. It would be the best choice from the paper that you listed.

  3. I just heard your comment on developing a skill and that it takes lots of hard work. I find that very encouraging. I feel like I have zero percentage talent. I’m seeing this is a skill that can be developed like skills in sports and music. I was under the mistaken belief that artist were pure talent.

  4. I am using 70 pound drawing paper, but my drawing has most definitely not failed, like you said it would.๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜

    • Hi Peter,

      I’m not sure what to make of your comment. I don’t believe I have ever said that a drawing would fail if you worked on 70 lb drawing paper.

  5. Hi Matt

    For beginners this drawing ist very,very ambitous. All the values and the creation of illusion of the leaves, the rays of sunshine the skin of the elephant with the wrinkles and all those shadows. I followed your lesson about the tree (Subjects with Pen & Ink, Lesson 22 Tree) and my drawing didn’t satisfy me. It was too dark, the illusion of leaves didn’t emerge. Hopefully with graphite the illusion of shadow and leaves succeed better. It is such a wonderful photo to draw and I am so eager to draw the content beautifully. The contour of the elephant along the grid, was great I managet it very well (at some point I had to trust really the grid – as you mentioned – and it was worth it). I am now anxixous to go further to the background and the elephant, anxioux about destroying the silhouette of the elephant with a bad, messy background :O(.

    • yep, my tree comes down to the elephant’s top of his ear to blk 5 where Matt you are up two blocks higher above the elephants ear?

  6. I agree with you Matt as a beginner this is very very ambitious but I know once i am ready i will tackle it in the very near future in the meantine practice and more practice. Thank you for your lessons. Sahara

  7. I joined last summer and absolutely loved it. I’m so thankful that someone like you had the time and effort to create something like this for people to watch. Since school’s about to go out, I don’t know what to do with all my time, and I’m really passionate about art and want to get better. Again, thank you so much and I just want to express my gratitude by writing this message.

  8. Still wondering how to get this course on my smart TV rather than just phone or computer?
    And also interested in if there is any critiquing along the way. Im a beginner to this program and would love to continue from where I left off without so much looking of finding this elephant class.

    Thanks for any help, Therese

  9. I donโ€™t know where you are located but Dale Chihuly is in Seattle Tacoma. He has a glass studio in Seattle and a museum in Tacoma. His work is everywhere you go. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I have absolutely loved drawing the elephant but I’m exhausted! I have never attempted such a detailed drawing before and am really happy with the result! Thank you Matt!

    From Sheila, in Kent UK

  11. It is amazing how exhausting it is! Just drawing the elephant outline in the first session was exhausting (in a good way…learning patience and concentration).
    Wonderful drawing, thank you Matt.

    • Also, speaking of graphite artists, check out Laurie Lipton. She does HUGE graphite drawings. They are dark (content-wise) but I love her work. And there’s a great short documentary about her called Love Bite I highly recommend (free to watch on vimeo).

  12. Even with the grid, I keep getting lost in the leaves!! I find myself outlining them so I can keep track of where they are, but then that looks bad.
    It’s really tricky.

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