Sea Shell (Junonia) Grid Drawing

Shell On A Grid

Shell in Copy It grid app for drawing.

Shell in Copy It grid app.

I tired to draw this shell freehand, but because of grumpiness from trying to plot all those spots, I put a photo of it into the Copyit grid app. This a very good app, by the way, and it’s creatively inspiring to have your photos and a grid app on the same device.

For the sake of details.

Befuddled shell drawing, mostly erased.

Befuddled shell drawing, mostly erased.

As you can see from all those erased spots, the details of this shell tied my observational skills in knots. The spiraled dots go up, they go down, and then just for fun, they all spin around.

I even gave up line and used patches of value to draw the small end of the shell. Trying to sort out all those spiraling hard and soft edges in that area was especially eye watering.

Cute But Wrong

Shell shaded behind details.

Shell shaded behind details.

I decided to shade the foundation shape (the shell under the spots) before I added the spots themselves. I like this drawing a lot! It’s round. It looks soft and has weight. It’s cute and I want to tickle it and see it jiggle.

Furthermore, you can see how handy it would be to draw the details on top of the shading. Yep, it sure would’a been nice. But as I hatched in the spots, most of my shaded shell surface ended up drawn over or erased. You’ll see that mess in the next step.


Wrestling Reluctant Details

Wrestling Reluctant Details

Boy, howdy. This got ugly fast.

In any drawing, there is at least one moment when I doubt I’m good enough to finish it well. Well enough for whom? You. Me. My second grade art teacher who didn’t “get” that eating the glue was part of my “process.”

This was one of those moments.

Just as this drawing was about to drive over a cliff …

details Coming Around

Details Coming Around

I finally got the details right! I smoothed out the background shading again, and you’d never know that I had to drag my entire art life, with all it’s anxiety and self doubt, through this drawing before it could reach this point.

Lookin’ Good

Shell drawing Lookin' Better

Shell Lookin’ Better

I darkened the detail spots, and shaded the shell behind them into a rounded shape once more. This looked much more like the shell I was trying to draw!

Close Enough!

Shell drawn with massive detail.

Shell drawn with massive detail.

Buoyed by a sense of success from the last steps, I doubled down on finishing details. The spots are a mix of hard and soft edges, and the shell’s value behind them is darker than it seems at first glance. Finally, the drawing came together in a way that felt solid, or as if the drawing had the weight of reality.

And, thankfully, glue was not needed because I decided against the glitter highlights that my inner seven year old suggested.

Hard and soft edges were an important part of making this shell look realistic, and they deserve more than just a mention. I started to create a small tutorial to go along with this drawing about them, but it grew and grew until it needed it’s own post. I’m working on that now.

Until next time, keep drawing everyone. (With or without glitter!)

About Carol

I’m an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I’ve been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.

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