Not a Tame Lion | Skillshare Projects

Ben Stafford

Illustrator & Designer



Not a Tame Lion

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Day 1

In the Beginning
I was asked to design a tattoo by my friend Clay a couple of days before I saw this class. Needless to say I was excited about this perfect timing. This was the exact style I wanted to achieve so hopefully this class will help me develop what I need to make this a design worth the permanence of a tattoo.
Clay advised me to make it as masculine as possible and also include a bit of mystery. I think it should be regal, sharp and to convey a sense of strength. When I think those things, I think instantly of a lion.

I love C.S. Lewis' Narnia collection as I know Clay does as well. Aslan is a perfect model for how this lion should appear. Just, meek, royal and able to strike fear strictly based on size and appearance.

“I have come," said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.”
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair


Day 2

Sketchy Progression
I stared and stared at my mood board trying to think of ways to tie all these together. A lot of the imagery I was looking for were strong on their own. I didn't want to go overboard. As you can see, I wanted my sketch to morph. I wanted to analyze each time I picked up my pencil. I was determined to work in/over top the same sketch (taking photos along the way if I changed my mind). The top image is where I'm at right now. I think it captures the majesty of the lion as it's contained within a shield (cresty/military). 

I'm usually not one for wanting to show my process since most of the time it looks like crud, but here it is. I welcome feedback. Thanks!


Day 3

I was able to trace my drawing pretty well. Once I saw it digitally, of course I fiddled with it for a few hours. Seriously, I need to eat dinner. Here's a bit of the process...

Here's where I landed. Thoughts? Suggestions? Something still feels a bit off with his mane.


Day 4

Fixing a Mistake
My brain started to turn to mush and I couldn't see errors, that's when you know you've been staring at something too long. Since feedback is severely lacking in this class, I've had to spend more time trying to spot my own errors.

One thing that I can't believe I missed was the ear placement. It seemed right when I sketched and even looked right when I compared to my moodboard. Then I started looking at more lion photos and realized it was way off. It looked more like bear ears. I've gone back and made the edits and it already looks way better. It also helped fill in some of that negative space in the mane.

Here's the most recent version...


Day 369

Revisiting Narnia

A year later, I've revisited the tattoo design based on Keith's feedback. I really like this version better and since my friend hasn't gotten inked yet, I'd really like to see him get this one. We'll see!


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