Figure 1
Reference photo of Kira
Here are the reference photos I used to create my composition. Take a look at the size of Kira's pupil and the lighting on her back; it is not representative of a beautiful sunny day. I will therefore have to make some adjustments on these lights and dark tones.

Can you see the difference between Kira’s and Cocotte’s body size? As you can observe, I will need to make an adjustment so both bodies are of equal proportions.

Figure 2
Reference photo of Cocotte

I like very much the photo of Cocotte in the grass and so will use it to create my composition with an outside, beautiful sunny day background. I plan on drawing Kira and Cocotte standing in the grass. Kira will look at Cocotte, and Cocotte will look... oops, had not thought about what Cocotte could look at. She could look at a bee on a clove flower. And this is my composition in triangle that allows keeping the eyes inside the drawing.

Figure 3

I have made my composition from several reference photos which I took myself. Kira, my cat, was photographed inside the house, on a cloudy day. Cocotte, my hamster (which is very pale, in the left corner, below), was photographed outside, on very beautiful summer day, when the sun was very present. Because my composition takes place outside, on beautiful sunny day, I will likely need to thin Kira’s pupils. However, for the time being, I will not do any adjustment until such time Cocotte is drawn, to ensure that Kira’s pupils will be looking in the correct direction, once Cocotte is in place.

Because I am left-handed, I began in the upper right corner of my drawing. I made my first layer in the dark parts of Kira's hair with a HB pencil. I used a mechanical pencil with a 2mm lead, very well sharpened, to make short strokes following the direction of the hair. For the darkest parts, I used a 2B pencil, by building the fur by multiple layers. I prefer to add several thin layers rather than drawing only one very dark. As such, it is much easier to create the thickness of the fur. Furthermore, I indented the whiskers of Kira, so they remain white when I draw the hair in her neck. The instrument which I used to indent is a knitting needle (not to confuse with a knitting brooch ) which I inserted into a 2mm mechanical pencil .

Figure 4

In the most pale parts, I used a 4H and 2H pencil. When I made several layers (approximately 3 - 4), I shade off slightly with a stump (made by compressed paper and disentangled in both ends). The stump allows keeping a minimum of texture while creating softness.

I continued to build the layers of hairs with a 2H and 4H pencil. After building three layers of graphite, I very slightly shade off with the stump to soften Kira’s fur. I make sure to always draw and shade off in the same direction of hairs in the area where I draw.

Figure 5

Here, I continued to add many contrasts in Kira’s fur, to emphasize the effect of the sun on its hair. The lighter parts of her hair (on the back) were left white (simply using the pure white of the paper). The values of Kira’s fur will be adjusted once I draw the background.

Let’s draw Cocotte, the small hamster. Once again, I began by indenting her whiskers with the instrument that I made (knitting needle in a 2mm mechanical pencil). I drew Cocotte’s eyes with a 4B pencil and left a white dot as the highlight. I then changed for a 2H pencil to make the fist layer of Cocotte’s fur. I added the contrasts in her hair with a HB pencil. After drawing a few more layers of fur, I used the stump to create softness.

Very strong contrasts were created to render the metallic effect of the seal. That is that zones of high brightness are side by side with much darker zones. I drew the inside of the seal by using a 2B pencil for the midtones, and a 4B pencil for the much darker shadows.

Now that I'm finished with Cocotte, I am finding that Kira is not looking directly in the hamster’s direction. As such, I now need to correct Kira’s glance. Furthermore, given the beautiful sunny day, Kira’s pupils should be much smaller. Let’s make the correction…

Figure 6

Here it is! At the moment, no touch ups will be made on Kira and Cocotte. Once the background is completed, then final values will be adjusted. Also notice the small bee, positioned to the right side of Cocotte’s body, on the clove flower. Although I do want the bee to be visible, it should not be the center of interest. As such, the bee will remain untouched for now.

In the foreground, the lawn will be defined with a lot of contrasts. On the second plan, by Kira’s tail, you will notice the blurred area, yet brighter and more uniform. Finally, I plan to create a very pale and blur background behind Kira to create depth in the composition. The background must be completed prior to making any lighting and shadow adjustments, so we can have a complete overview of the project at large.

I create the lawn with negative drawing. The outlines of the main blades of grass are drawn first, and with a HB 2mm mechanical pencil , I draw triangular, asymmetric forms, which represent the shadows between the blades of grass. Then, with a 2H pencil, I darkened the secondary blades of grass (that I created with negative drawing). I then add shadows and lights on the main blades of grass. Once I have drawn a small area of lawn, I soften a little the contrast with "BluTack". This one will remove a uniform layer of graphite while leaving the texture intact. It is a wonderful tool to which I am almost addicted.

Now, let’s take a look at Kira. As you can certainly see, it appears the corrections made to her eye are not correct. She seems to be looking at Cocotte and wondering if she would taste good for lunch… so there will be more corrections required in the next stage.

Figure 7

I corrected Kira’s pupils and I continued to draw the grass. As you can see under Kira's leg, I drew the grass using negative drawing with a HB pencil, and then, with a 2H, I darken the secondary blades of grass to create depth in my drawing and give the illusion that the lawn is luxuriant. Then, with the 2H pencil, I added shadows and lights to the primary blades of grass; those that are part of the foreground. Once finished drawing the values in the small areas of grass, I removed a layer of graphite with kneadable eraser, to soften contrasts that are too strong. Finally, with a retractable eraser, I created highlights on the blades of grass located in the foreground.