Okay, just about any type project starts with a blank something. Want a spoon? It starts with a piece of wood and you use your tools to take away bits of wood a little at a time until the spoon appears. Oversimplified? Sure it is but hey I'm old and demented and besides it's my thread and I can do pretty much what I want with it. Must be true, pretty sure I read it on the internet somewhere so it has to be true. Okay, down to business. This here's sort of a work-in-progress type of thing. It's not so much a 'how to' as it is a 'yes you can do it too'. Later on I'll do some actual tutorials but this is to demonstrate that, somewhat like the spoon carving, you start with a blank page and take away the empty space until you have something that you want. You can also say you add to the page to fill in that space and that's true too but I like to look at it as taking away the blank space the same way we take a bit of wood off the log to carve something, same way that a leather worker takes material off the hide to create, I like to envision it as taking away all that mass of blankness until we're left with something. For just about anyone a blank page is daunting. Even if you're reasonably sure of your skills (and that's what drawing is, a learned skill) it can make you nervous. Will I be able to do it? Can I fill that expanse? Will what I want to do have too little detail? Too much detail? It goes on and on. Quite frankly many will give up at the start. I know I did over and over for a long time. I first got one of those big 12 x 15 sketch pads and the first time I went to use it I was like holy crap what am I going to do with this huge page of emptiness? This is why I suggest smaller pads or sketchbooks to start with. Smaller mass of emptiness is easier to deal with. Okay so today is the 8th of December. I've been trying to get started on this piece since just before Thanksgiving. I had two commissions to do and a difficult customer so ended up having to do two paintings over again twice due to changes they'd made and that was rather time consuming. This one is for fun but also for a special little person and let's face it, we do what we do for fun and the smiles so how about I stop rambling and get on with it. Note: Apologies in advance for poor image quality. Lighting conditions weren't great in doing this and most of the time I was doing the actual drawing with the aid of my head lamp the same as when I'm in camp in the woods. I was also part way into the project before I thought of posting the process and started taking pictures. Here's what we start with: For those interested in the materials used it's: Strathmore 500 series watercolor paper cut to 5x7; kneadable eraser, and a Sanford 2mm drawing pencil with a 2H lead inserted. The ruler will be used as a hand rest overtop the drawing to prevent smearing of the graphite on the page. What we want is to take away that blank space and add something fun. In this case I'll be attempting to add a little bit of forest fun, namely a couple birds. Being stuck in the city for a while and grumbling constantly about it, I'll be using a reference picture rather than observing the birds in the field. Before I commit to ink and paint I want to sketch/draw the image lightly in pencil to give myself some guidelines and to ensure I fit the piece into the paper. I also don't want the paper sliding about and since we'll be adding some watercolor to it later on I chose to use tape instead of binder clips. Material is 3M Scotch brand painters tape. Some say it's not as good as drafting tape or artists tape but it works for me, you just need to be careful when removing it so the paper doesn't tear. It's also far far better than regular masking tape (which for paper is as bad as duct tape the majority of the time).