Process: Creation of The Sea Battle

Firstly, let me apologize for the quality of the pictures, I took these at night with my phone camera.

So for one of my final life drawing assignments, we were told to draw several models and then incorporate them into an imagined background. After drawing these two models, I partially jokingly told my friends and professor that I was going to draw them in the middle of a sea battle. Of course they laughed it off, but I was really quite serious about the venture.

I first drew both of the models in pencil on a piece of 19”x25” Canson toned paper. Canson isn’t ideal for this, but I hadn’t used pen and ink in a while and thought it would be fun to try. The model on the left had her hand placed perfectly in a way that she could be holding a lantern, so I branched off of that idea. I quickly drew a few sketches of what might be happening in the scene:

One of the sea battle sketchesOne of the Sea Battle Sketches
As you can see, in both of the sketches I originally had a lighthouse on the right hand side, but later scrapped the idea.

I decided to have one of the women holding a lamp, while both would be sitting on treasure chests on a cliff overlooking the sea. In the sea I would have two dueling ships on one side with an incoming dark storm on the horizon and then on the other side would be several of the men (pirates?) rowing to shore.

I first drew all the surrounding elements roughly in pencil. Then I started to draw the chests in pen using Pigma microns, Zig and gel pens. This was a rather laborious way of hatching everything out though, and not only that, but I wasn’t getting the personality and varying thickness of real pen strokes. My other qualms about using ink pens is that despite what they say, they are not always archival and they are significantly not as dark as india ink. The treasure chests ended up taking quite a while to do, and later I ditched the pens and began using my trusty nibs and india ink instead. You can see the difference in where I used the india ink and the pigmented pens in the final piece, but it’s not completely distracting.
Beginning on the chestsAlmost nearing completion
As I drew in ink, I added hatches and detail as I went along. For the background storm, I used sponges and probably a few markers to get the effect I wanted. It really helps to have a book or two of pen-and-ink artists on hand while you do an exercise like this, because if you run into a design or technique dilemma, you can see how the other artist handled it. The book I used the most for this assignment was The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll- which I highly recommend if you can find it for cheap.

I think I did a pretty good job on this assignment given the detail I put into it and the time frame I had to work on it. I do wish I had made a more clear distinction between the foreground and background, but that’s part of the learning process. There are a few details I really like, such as the torn pirate flag on the ground and the ships. Overall I was pleased and so was my professor, so I would like to try drawing something like this again in the future.

Detail of the pirate flagDetail of the shipsThe Final Image

The final image as best as I could scan it. Click to enlarge!