Portraying by Drawing

Exercise 1.8

Portray your visual source through your own self-directed drawing approach.


The over-arching purpose my approach will be to create a floral design for wallpaper or furnishing fabric. This roots the task in textile design considerations.


My overall approach is:
* to gain familiarity with my subject by producing drawings of the elements of a Gerbera;
* explore techniques to limit the colour palette so that the design may be rendered cost effectively;
* to learn how to digitise my images;
* produce a final digital product.

Familiarity and Elements
To gain some initial familiarity with my subject, and capture the elements that will make up my final drawing, I will produce:
1) An initial, general view of a Gerbera plant;
2) A classical botanical record showing all aspects of the plant (except the roots, as my daughter would not appreciate me uprooting her plants), its construction, with appropriate scales and dissections;
3) A drawing of the flower heads of Gerbera at various angles;

Limiting Palette
Bulk textiles are traditionally printed with a limited palette, by mechanical roller, one colour at a time; however, this technique is replaced by digital printing, or hand-printing for high-end products.

Inspired by the work of the Timorous Beasties, I will explore how to limit the palette without losing the charm and detail of the drawings. My next suite of drawings/paintings will comprise a series:
4) a standard watercolour;
5) a grisaille style drawing;
6) an imitation of the copper engraving style.

Paradisical Flower, Mauve

(fabric, original)

Scale and Repetition:
I will then explore other possibilities:
7) very large scale;
8) very small scale;
9) repetition.

For the repetition exploration, I will learn how to digitise a drawing.

Bringing It Together
10) Combine elements from my previous drawings and experiments to produce a digital floral design for wallpaper or furnishing fabric.

Familiarity and Elements

First Observation of a Gerbera.
Watercolour on watercolour paper (A3).

Botanical/Scientific Rendition:

Watercolour on watercolour paper (A3).

I could really see my work improving!

seed head

Flower Head Angles: collecting more drawings to depict the elements needed for the design:

This drawing will be the primary source for the floral elements of the final product. I like how the flowers have more movement and character than my previous drawings.

Additional material:
I generated several other drawings/paintings as I did the Scale and Repetition exercise.

Limiting Palette

My grisaille/copper engraving experiment:

(Click for a larger image)

Shaded Graphite
(Click for a larger image)

(Click for a larger image)

Copper Engraving Imitation
(Click for a larger image)

I was most pleased with the “copper engraving’ method. This involved outlining sections of the drawing with black pen, then shading with lines. This would be my method for the final product.

Scale and Repetition

Large Scale: a close-up of a white Gerbera on A1 size.

The current state of the painting represents two solid days work!

This painting was really challenging for several reasons:
* As the petals were white, it was difficult to render the shadows, and differentiate the anthers from the petals.
* I was using light from the window so that the shadows would remain stationary; however this precluded continuing work into the night with artificial light.
* The flower continues to change and open over two days. I took a photograph to work from in the future, so I could complete the painting.

The graphite drawing of the flower is complete, even if the addition of colour is not. For the purpose of this exercise, it has served its purposes of exploring scale, and further close examination. I will complete the painting at a later date, so that I can meet my assignment submission deadline.

Small Scale:

At this very small scale it becomes obvious that the smaller the drawing, the less detail that can be captured. This is a general lesson for my drawing, which is usually sized A4 or A3. A large drawing can reveal and document detail that is overlooked in smaller renditions.

I photographed a drawing of a Gerbera leaf, then and then imported the image into Adobe Illustrator (which I already use for drafting patchwork patterns). I learnt how to make a cropping mask with the “pen tool” which allowed me to separate my drawing from the background. From there I could cut and paste the image for my repetition exercise. It was the first time I have done manipulation of drawings in this way – a steep learning curve!

Repetition: some experiments in creating patterns with repetition:


Bringing It Together

Timorous Beasties use just a couple of elements, repeated, in their designs. For instance, in their Dandelion fabric, there is a pair of dandelions repeated one on top of the other. Note also that there are only two yellow shades and two shades of green in this design (see above).

I will make a repeating design (pattern repeat) in Paradisical Flower, or Dandelion fashion.

The first steps in bringing the elements into a finished design is:
* to choose say two or three flowers, and one of two leaves;
* draw the “copper engraving” style outlines for the selected images;
* digitise these images.

This is the resulting drawing, after transferring an enlarged version to a new sheet:

I have a new found respect for graphic designers! It was extremely laborious and time-consuming to separate and colour the individual elements of the design. The final design, as a single repeat:

And the design as the final product:

Would you hang this in your house?

Timorous Beasties (2020 a). ‘Dandelion’ in Fabric,
Viewed: https://www.timorousbeasties.com/shop/fabric/1455/dandelion-fabric/, 25 June 2020

Timorous Beasties (2020 b). ‘Paradisical Flower’ in Wallcoverings,
Viewed: https://www.timorousbeasties.com/shop/wallcoverings/11/paradisical-flower-solid-wallcovering/, 25 June 2020