Endangered Species: Mountain Gorilla 2

I sold the first of my Endangered species: Mountain Gorilla pieces December 2018 and decided another was needed. They are just such awesome creatures to draw, so expressive, plus, I’d had a great response to the 1st and felt it was right to do another. I plan to complete more Endangered Species portraits this year, in the hope of raising awareness of the wonderful animals of this planet that we are so close to losing.

The image below is my reference photo from Pixabay. This is a great site for free reference shots for which I am incredibly grateful. I loved this shot as soon as I laid eyes on it……

Original Photo, ref Pixabay.

I started with a pen sketch of the original photo for two reasons. First, it had been a while since drawing and I wanted to get my hand back into it. Second, I wanted to get a feel for whether this would be the picture for me to draw.


I enjoyed sketching this photo so chose to do this in pastels on some new paper called Velour Pastel Paper. Pastelmat paper feels like sandpaper and can handle my heavy hand, however, velour feels like felt and requires a rather softer approach to drawing. This was going to be a challenge!

I was introduced to this paper after doing a Vic Bearcroft workshop, so it wasn’t the first time of me using it, but it was the first time without any direction from a professional. I’d previously done a wolf under the guidance of Vic which you can see below.

The finished piece from today with Vic Bearcroft. Thoroughly enjoyed the day. Was nice to try out different materials…

Posted by Mel Newing Art on Tuesday, 25 September 2018
Wolf drawn at the Vic Bearcroft workshop

I started by copying the original photo, referenced from Pixabay, onto the surface. On pastelmat I would normally draw a grid and mark points to free-hand the outline. However, with this paper being far more delicate I decided to use trace down paper. This has a “chalky” type of side which is placed onto the paper, your photo is laid on top, and then you lightly draw on your image, basically tracing your picture down onto the surface. I’ve tried to avoid this previously as I really want to improve my hand-eye co-ordination and feel a grid is better for that, but with the delicate felt surface I want as few lines drawn on it as possible. The velour surface is so easily damaged, then rendering the paper useless. It’s also expensive and I don’t really want to throw a piece away!

So with the outline drawn, it’s then time to start blocking in colours and begin the detail. I always start with the eyes. If you get these wrong it will throw out the whole drawing in my opinion, so start with the eyes and you have a nice based to work around.

The process is slow but this is not a bad thing. If you rush the beginning stages then you don’t have the right base for the whole piece. With velour, I am solely using Rembrandt pastels. The CarbOthello pencils would potentially leave indented stroke lines, and Vic had suggested just using a soft pastel, such as the Rembrandt. You then gradually (and I really do mean gradually!) start adding layer upon layer of pastel with the softest touch you can manage! With this being a soft paper, plus the soft pastels, you can get some dust lift with each stroke. I’d say don’t work in too much of an enclosed space and consider keeping a window open if you have breathing issues.

So, this piece is practically done. A few finishing touches, trying to get those highlights really in there, and then to leave it for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes for any touch-ups.

Nearly complete!

I’m thinking I may well add this piece into some competitions I’ve found but I will decide in a few days once I’ve given him the “all clear”!

I hope you like him, the second of my Endangered Species: Mountain Gorilla pieces, and if you have any questions please do ask. If I know the answers, or can give you any tips & tricks, I will do.

Thank you for reading my blog and continuing to support me in my artwork journey. It really does make such a difference having you here with me.

All the very best,


You may also like my other works:

Leave a Comment