So, last year I did something kind of unique. For the last ten years or so, I’ve been doing Christmas cards, usually of wintery landscapes.

 

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Now, as it happens, my girlfriend’s parents were redecorating their living room and were looking for something to put on their wall. They have always loved my cards, so I offered to do a big drawing for them. I was suffering from a severe depression at the time, and my therapist and I had pretty much come to the conclusion I needed to draw more and challenge myself, and this would fit perfectly. Also, I rarely draw on paper bigger than A4. I did some preliminary sketches and ended up with the following A4 sized sketch:

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So, now the real work began. After a few failed attempts, I ended up going with Canson Montval 75x55cm paper. It’s a very finely grained watercolour paper with quite a lot of heft on it (300gsm). It’s not as smooth as Canson Arches Satine, but I quite like the slight texture (it’s also a LOT cheaper than Arches). I ended up doing a very loose sketch and then filling it in with detail piece by piece, and inking it like that as well, to keep the paper relatively free from smudges. as you can see, I went a bit crazy for details.

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just a bit of ferns. I used a Faber Castell Grip pencil (2=B hardness) for the entire drawing.

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Once the foreground was done, I started on the middle ground, which was mostly a forest. I ended up doing some nice trees, if I say so myself:

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here are the main tools of the drawing: the previously mentioned Grip pencil (with addition grip placed on it), a Conte/Bic Plume Atome nib and a Zebra G nib in a Tachikawa nib holder:

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after quite a bit of drawing I ended up buying a Smudgeguard 2 to save both my hand and the drawing from smudges. it works great, I wish I’d bought one years ago. As you can see by this time I had pretty much finished the front and middle ground. after this is it was just the white granite rock, the less detailed background forest and mountains, and the rocky river shore and river to draw and ink. In the end that happened rather quickly.

 

 

I don’t seem to have any pictures of the drawing completely finished in ink, before I started the wash, so here it is about halfway through the wash. still needed do quite a bit of details on the trees and foreground.

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the finished drawing, right after the final ink wash and touches with white ink. As you can see, it was a lot of work, and I was so happy to finish the whole thing.

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I added a lot of tiny details just to break up the monotony of drawing ferns etc., like these little mushrooms..

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..and these flowers..

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..and some Mouse Guard characters..

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..and some tiny Bone characters, dwarfed by the landscape..

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..as well as a musician (who might just have been inspired by a certain red-headed character from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle) playing a lonely tune.

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In the end, I’m quite happy with it. Sure, I can point out quite a few mistakes, and there were times when I wanted to tear the drawing up, but just finishing it was quite an accomplishment, and it ended up pushing me in the right direction.

the finished drawing, framed (you can click through to the giant version):

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