Devil’s Lettuce Fun & Easy Step-out

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge 3/23 -4/6: Draw a landscape using the Devil’s Lettuce step-out.  Extra calorie-free brownie points for adding a Bell 3 plant.

Devil’s Lettuce is a plant also known as Checker’s Fiddleneck, and seems to be the desert version of the fiddleneck fern.  I thought it was an interesting plant with its tiny blossoms growing all along its stem and the clusters of buds and blossoms at the end of its curly neck.

As always – make this your own.  Play with the sizes and shapes of the flowers and the curls and the clusters. Let your unique flag fly!

This example was done with Zebra Pen Zensations Brush pens and Mechanical Colored Pencils in a Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook. This was my first colored pencil in this book, and I love the way the colors are so bright!

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Friday Fun & Easy Hedgehog & Echidna

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge 3/2 -3/8: Draw a landscape using either the Hedgehog or Echidna step-out or both.  Extra calorie-free brownie points for use basic shape plants and scribble texture.

I was working on a Hedgehog step-out and earlier this week I drew an Echidna for my hubby’s lunch bag, and I thought how similar the two were.  And then I had the thought – it’s almost Easter, and Echidna’s lay eggs! One of only two mammals in the entire world that lay eggs.

So if you’re trying to think up ways to change up those boring old Easter cards, how about you have an Echidna bring your Easter basket? It actually makes more sense than rabbits, lol.

My Hedgehogs and Echidna don’t have feet or ears.  Well, they do, but they keep them tucked in unless they are using them.

Let your unique flag fly! Every plant and animal in the world is unique and so are you – so your drawings should be too.  Don’t try to make your hedgehog or echidna look exactly like mine.  Experiment with the length and width of the spines.  Change the eye and nose.  HAVE FUN!

Fun & Easy Landscape Step-out drawn with

In my Fun & Easy world, Hedgehogs and Echidnas come in bright colors.  They like to play a game where teams climb on top of each other to form towers. Echidnas are always on the bottom because their long nose provides more stability (people don’t realize that about the Echidna nose, lol).  The team that builds the tallest tower wins.  I think the team in front is in trouble!
Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Heart-filled Fun & Easy Challenge Step-by-Step

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape challenge for 2/9 – 2/15 is to create a landscape using Heart-Felt Shapes or Basic Shapes.  This is similar to the challenge for the last two weeks, but this time you are challenged to use a photo as a reference.  Please get permission to use any photo that is not yours.

Your finished work need not be a realistic replica.  In fact it shouldn’t be.  Because this might be confusing, I decided to do a step-by-step today.

I’ll confess right off – I had an idea in my head and I didn’t quite capture what I wanted. But that’s half the fun.  I learn while I’m teaching.  Part of what I want to show you is to recognize what makes you unsatisfied with a drawing.  The hope is that instead of thinking ‘I hate this!’ and giving up in frustration, you will think ‘Ah! here’s where I went wrong and here’s where I went right!’.  You’ll realize you didn’t do so badly, and you’ll come closer to what you want the next time.

Supplies:  I used a Zensations Drafix Pencil to sketch out the drawing, a Zensations .05 Technical Pen to draw the finished work, and Sarasa Fineliners to color them on Grumbacher Mixed Media paper. You can use any pencils, pen and paper you wish.  Just make sure you use ones that will be compatible with the medium you use to color it in.

Resources: Today I’m using heart shapes that I presented in my Heart-Felt Shapes step-wisely, and following steps similar to a tutorial I did back in 2013, where I showed how to do a Zentangle-Inspired artwork using a photo as a starting point.

Here’s the photo, I’m using as a reference.  I chose it because I love the color, the sections are clearly separated, and the shapes are simple. As you can tell from my finished work above, I’m not remotely trying to make a realistic work – this is just a good place to start.

Feel free to use this photo or one of your own.

Before we start – I’m using heart shapes because it is almost Valentine’s Day, but you can use any shapes you want. See my Basic Shapes step-wisely) for more help with that.

I recommend reading all the way through the steps before starting to draw.

Step 1:  
I punched up the value in this shot, so you could see my pencil drawing, but you should draw lighter than this.  This is a guide so you know where to place things, so keep it simple – just basic shapes. You can always draw more with the pencil later if you need to.

Before you continue, think about what you want from the finished piece. What do you want to convey? A particular plant or animal? The way the landscape unfolds? The light? Knowing what you want in the first place helps you make decisions (confession: I like to jump in and just make it up as I go.  But that’s harder to teach and more frustrating for a beginner).

What to note about this step – there is:

  • a foreground – the land closest in the drawing
  • a midground – the water, trees and hills
  • a background – the sky
  • the shapes create a rough half-circle around the page

Step 2:  
If you want more control over your finished piece, I recommend using a pencil for all of these steps, and then going over it with pen when you are done.

What to note about this step:

  • The Heart Petal flower is large in comparison to the midground
    • This helps create a sense of distance – larger objects seem closer
    • The flower will be an entry point to catch the eye and start it moving around the page
But…but… there isn’t any flower in the photo! The land and trees are all in silhouette!
The photo is only a place to start.  The silhouettes are too dark, if I want to keep with my theme of heartshapes. I discuss my reasons for adding the flower below, but if you prefer to keep your drawing a little closer to the original photo, you can skip step 2 – YOU have the power!

Step 3:  
How important is the foreground in this drawing? In the photo, even as a silhouette, you mainly see grass.  Beyond adding the flower, I decided to stay with grass.

What to note about this step:

  • There isn’t much detail in the foreground
  • The grasses are all flowing toward the flower
    • In the photo, the eye follows the land from bottom left to right – I kept that flow

Step 4:  

In Step 3, I stated that the eye starts bottom left and goes right.  It then moves up to the land in the mid-ground and sweeps left.
But, when drawing, I like go in a zig-zag.  I feel it helps me keep things balanced. You may prefer to do step 5 before doing Step 4.

What to note about this step:

  • Although the heart outline of each tree is distinct, the heart shapes within are not
    • You can’t see detail as well in the distance
      • incomplete shapes and broken lines help give a feeling of distance
  • The hearts in the reflection are darker and more complete nearest the land
    • detail that is closer to land will be more distinct and fade the farther they are
      • this helps imply deepness in the water

Step 5:  

The bridge of land in the middle is the least interesting part of this landscape. I want to know what it looks like on the left and the right so I know how to scale it.

What to note about this step:

  • Filling in this area, takes some power from my first flower
    • That’s all right – that flower is a secondary focus.  When I color this I’ll use a very light color or leave it white, so that it stands out from the the darker trees
  • The right side is higher than the left. A flat horizon isn’t very interesting.
  • Both the foreground and midground slope downward from right to left. This isn’t a matter of right or wrong, but you should be aware of it.  If you change one or the other, you get a different feel to the landscape.

Step 6:  
In the photo, you only see the tips of trees.  I want more detail, but I don’t mind if it is jumbled. Separation will come when this drawing is colored, but mostly I want some of those heart shapes peeking out from a darker mass.

What to note about this step:

  • There is lots of detail but it’s hard to distinguish
    • Details are hard to make out in the distance so this helps with depth
    • This will be an area of confusion, unless you control the values (light to dark)
      • I intend to use darker color and reduce detail further
        • it is artistic choice to decide which detail to keep
        • this could also be done with shading
You may well ask – why not limit the detail in the first place.  That is the best way to go – if you have a clear idea of the detail you want.  I’m assuming most of the people who read this won’t have, so I’m drawing much, coloring over.

Step 7:  
Now that I’ve established the size of the landmass to left and right, I’ll draw the bridge of trees that connects them.

What to note about this step:
  • The bridge slope in the opposite direction from the mid and fore grounds
    • No right or wrong – you just get a different feeling
  • The tree tips are partial heart shapes – this works even when you don’t have a heart theme
  • The bridge isn’t straight across – that would be boring
  • The bridge of trees has no reflection
    • this implies more distance – that the trees are too far from the water to reflect

Step 8:  
I had a good idea of what I wanted in the sky, but not a clear idea how to get it.  I wanted to get that cottonball clouds feel only with hearts.  This is where I’m not satisfied with my effect.  I won’t say unhappy.  I’m not.  But I didn’t quite get the effect I was going for.  I ran out of time to play with it and just went with my first try.  Maybe one of you will come up with something better.

What to note about this step:

  • There is a space between the landmass and the bottom heart
    • I want the greatest contrast here, so I’ll be leaving lots of whitespace in the sky
  • The hearts are approximately at the center of the page
  • The hearts are larger at top and each is a little smaller as they go down
    • The smaller each heart is, the more distance will be implied

Step 9: 

I apologize – I really was rushing at this point to get this done.
What to note about this step:
  • The hearts overlap
    • No right or wrong, just a different feel if you overlap versus placing side by side
Step 10: 
I also realized at this point that my hearts and the right landmass were going to be closer than I wanted.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. An artist might want to do this at times, but this is one of the ways where I didn’t get what I was personally going for.  I lost the whitespace contrast that I needed.  If I had had time to do this again, I would have start reducing the size of the hearts from side-to-side – reducing size with each set of 4 or 5 hearts so they were much smaller at the edges.

What to note about this step:

  • In the second row of hearts, the top curve fits in the gaps between top row hearts
    • No right or wrong – just a different feel if you placed them differently

Step 11: 

I finish the sky by continuing the rows of hearts.

What to note about this step:

  • The hearts decrease evenly on both sides to create a pointed mass
    • No right or wrong – but you get a really different feel to key depending on the shape you create with the hearts.  You might want to follow the photo more closely
You may want to stop at this step if you don’t intend the sky to be your focus.

Step 12: 

I debated about this step.  If you look at the photo, it is mainly the lighter part of the sky that reflects in the water.  I decided to increase contrast in the sky by adding more detail in the water.

What to note about this step:

  • The heart reflections are indistinct
    • The distance thing again, plus I didn’t want the reflections to draw too much attention

Step 13: 

To add yet more detail, I added some ripples to the water, even though it is very calm in the photo.

I’ve left a lot to be done with shading or coloring up to this point.  It all looks pretty cluttered and hard to follow and that will be cleared up by using values.  There should be at least three values – light, medium and dark.

I had hoped to continue this through coloring, but visiting family and computer problems left me no time.  In fact, I would have worked a bit longer on this to make the shoreline more circular and to add more reds to the yellow flower.

Note that I decided to add more interest to the foreground with lighting and color shades.  If I did this again, I would leave the flower out.

Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Heartbeast Fun & Easy Challenge

Last week, I posted a step-wisely showing several plants and animals that you could create using heart shapes.  This week I’m giving you the step-out for the Heartbeast that was included.  I know lots of you have already figured out how to draw this (which thrills me no end!).  I’d hoped to have a second step-out, but I got behind and didn’t even get my example drawing done.

This week will be a continuation of last week’s Friday Fun & Easy Challenge. Draw a landscape that includes the Heartbeast or of the other heart creations from the Heartland step-wisely.  Calorie-free brownie points for a heart-shaped plant or animal of your own!

Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Heart Felt Friday Fun & Easy Challenge

The Friday Fun & Easy Challenge for 1/26/18 – 2/1/18 is to draw a landscape using the Heartland step-wisely.  Calorie-free brownie points for a heart-shaped plant or animal of your own!

It has been a while since I’ve posted a step-wisely, so some of you are going huh? What’s that.  In essence, it’s a tip or technique.  Back in June, I posted a step-wisely that discussed using basic shapes-circles, squares and triangles to create surprisingly complex plants, people and animals.

Bouncing off of that, and taking into mind that Valentine’s Day is around the corner I’m adding another shape – yes, you guessed it – the heart shape.

Here are some examples of what you can do using a heart or heart-like shape (no need to make a perfect heart!).  Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some step-out for some of these.  For this week, your free to use any of these shapes you can figure out, and I’m hoping some of you will create some shapes of your own!

Example drawn with a Zebra Pen Zensations Brush Pen and colored with
Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Desert Pea Friday Fun & Easy Challenge

The Friday Fun & Easy Challenge for 1/12/18 – 1/18/18 is to draw a landscape using the Desert Pea step-out.  Calorie-free brownie points for also using a road or path in it. You might want to see my Three Roads step-wisely for ideas.

Today’s Fun & Easy Landscape plant was inspired by the Australian Sturt’s Desert Pea.  Note the word ‘inspired’.  You are creating your own fantasy world so feel free to add whatever embellishments or changes you wish.

Don’t worry about getting the shapes exact or placing them exactly where I did.  Look at my example and see that I adding more seed pods, making some circles and giving more flourish to the petals. I tried to keep my steps as simple as possible so even a beginner has a place to start.  But my step-outs are always nothing more than a beginning for you to build on!

Example drawn with a Zebra Pen Sarasa Fineliner and colored with


Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Melon-Striped Fun & Easy Step-out

After I did a watercolor, I was asked to create a step-out showing how I did the striped trees in the painting.  After some thinking, I realized a step-out wasn’t enough.  This is because the striping is really a technique more than a specific striped object.

If you do intend to color, you can draw the stripe outlines in black, or you can use the color you intend to use for filling in.  You’ll get a different effect with each of the two methods.

Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!