An illustration of an elk, or wapiti

Hello and happy Tuesday! Last week I was away camping in Yellowstone, and spent a lot of time on the trip illustrating the wild animals I saw there. They were, in a word, magnificent. I wanted to cry they were so beautiful and pure.

Here are all the
animals we saw:

  •  Wapiti (elk)
  •  Bison
  •  Prong-horned antelope
  •  Marmots
  •  Prairie Dogs
  •  A Blue Heron
  •  Pelicans
  •  Chipmunks
  •  A Coyote

Here are the animals that live there that I didn’t see:

  • Wolves
  • Grizzly Bears
  • Black Bears
  • Big Horned Sheep

I was so so so so so sad I didn’t see a bear. I just really wanted to. When I was 18 or 19, me and my friend Scott summoned a bear by chanting “bear” repeatedly on a rural road. A black bear walked right in front of our car. I tried summoning a bear the whole time I was in Yellowstone, but they didn’t come out. Maybe Scott needs to be there for it to work….

Anyways I had it in my head that I would draw animals I actually saw on the trip, so I focused on those to start and by the time we made it back to Seattle I had drawn a wapiti, a bison, and a coyote! I might revisit the colour palette and draw some more in this series though, it feels like like they could collage well to make an Animals of Yellowstone poster or something. And I just need a reason to draw that grizzly 😛

First I drew the wapiti, because they strolled through our camp in groups of 2-4 most mornings and evenings, so I could get some good looks at their proportions, and especially the lines of their antlers. I wish I could draw from real life and just sit and create a masterpiece, but I’m too slow, so I settled for drawing some quick references I could use while sketching, and some blurry pictures I took with my iphone.



As I was watching the wapiti, they reminded me so much of my greyhound in their shape and their movements. When I started drawing him though, I realized I had the proportions way too long and slender. I am so used to drawing my greyhound that I automatically started illustrating her basic shapes. But the wapiti are much more stocky when you look closely, with shorter legs and a more potato-shaped body. So I modified it a bit, as you can see in the above time-lapse. I also played with rearranging colour a bit, but ended up liking the original combo I had selected. When planning a drawing I use multiple layers in procreate and just lower their opacity so I can build on top of it as I go, and then amalgamate the layers into a rough sketch and a cleaned up outline to use for the actual illustration. I like keeping my palette scribbled out in a corner so it's easy to switch between colours without going into the nav menu to switch.

An illustration of an elk, or wapiti

If you'd like, check out my instagram grid for the bison and coyote I drew for the rest of this series 🙂