I chose to start with a squirrel having a snack among some plants. I chose to work digitally for this, like the instructor. I used Procreate on an iPad Pro with Apple Pencil.
The illustrators that Ira Marcks chose to mimic were all illustrators that were also very influential on me growing up. However, I was able to think of a couple of others that I loved. The first was E. H. Shepard, who brought life to A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories for me as a kid. While Disney Pooh is charming in its own way, Shepard's little pen sketches of the characters felt more like stuffed animals come to life.
His characters were often outlined with very little shading, while their environment was sketched out more naturally. His strokes seem short and almost hesitant, but the lines he chooses to make are all perfectly selected to convey meaning.
I don't know what size his actual drawings are, but they all feel like miniatures, perhaps due to the scale of the characters and their simplicity. My own squirrel is large in its surroundings and, ultimately, doesn't feel as successful for this style. I still gave it a shot. When I tried the loose style where marks often only give the faintest suggestion of form, my lines just felt rushed and scribbled. I still enjoyed the exercise, and revisiting the Pooh drawings.
Another illustrator whose style had/has a major impact on me is Jaime Hernandez, perhaps best known for the Love and Rockets comic book series. He is a master of line, and always knows precisely where to put spot blacks.
I couldn't really find many Jaime Hernandez illustrations of furry animals so I made some educated guesses on how to draw my squirrel. I had to draw a frame around it because so much of his art lives inside these discrete boxes that it felt wrong to leave it floating on a page.
Finally, I inked a version on my own.
Thanks for the class and the workshop. I look forward to the next one!