Hockey Art for Speculative Fiction

Hockey is my passion, and this is my latest hockey art created with traditional and digital media. I drew Eli and Hawke from a hockey story by Xiaq, Like Real People Do. Her story is based on Check! Please by Ngozi.
My process minimizes my weaknesses as much as possible.


Dynamic pose

I have very little experience drawing from life or gesture drawing, so I have to make up for this. I looked for inspiration in videos or gifs. For this drawing, I used a gif of Tom Holland. He’s a dancer, and this character studied dance.

A gif of Tom Holland chatting.


I follow anatomy videos online, but I have never formally studied anatomy. To counter this, I use a body chan figure to recreate the pose. The dog is sculpted from plasticine and obviously the proportions are dreadful. It isn’t too important at this stage.


I know that when I need to add shading and make decisions about contrast, I will make errors in how the light source falls on the three-dimensional figure. I decided on the angle and the light source and used a home-made light box and my iphone to take a picture and evaluate it as a two dimensional representation.

Body Chan figure with plasticine dog.


I don’t design the drawing in my head. I can’t ‘see’ things in my head. This is spatial blindness, and it won’t change. I make decisions about composition based on a three-dimensional scene, or I’ll never get the perspective right. I also need a two-dimensional representation, because I can’t imagine one on my own. For this drawing, I took a final picture of the mannequin with two light sources, a bright lamp and ambient light.

Print out of photo with grid drawn on it.

The next step could go two ways: I could either print it out and draw a grid on it to use as reference for a sketch on cheap paper, or print it out and draw directly on top of it in heavy black ink. I traced this one.
At this point, I made changes to the anatomy and decided on details. The character I drew is a 5’7″ figure skater. He’s described as beautiful, with loose curls and a Caribbean and Spanish background. I lengthened the thighs, and trimmed the arms and waist. I looked at several reference photos but ended up drawing the face and hair freely. I chose the wrinkles on the clothes carefully; however, the shirt does not drape naturally.
I can be my most creative in this stage of the process. I love this part. Most of it gets erased, but that’s okay. I have to put all my choices down on paper, because I can’t see them in my head. I erase as much as I draw.
I looked at dozens of pictures of dogs for Hawke. I drew her freehand, and drew in a service vest.

Tracing from reference photo, details added.

Traditional Media Version

Then I used a homemade light box to trace my final drawing onto heavy paper. I made small changes in detail here. The cheap paper is too slippery for my soft Japanese pencils and pills with my Tombow dual brush markers.
Here I drew in details like Eli’s facial features and hair, and Hawke’s fur.

Shading and contrast

I added shading relying heavily on the first reference image from the lightbox.
I’m not happy with how I blended my strokes with these markers. This is the first time I’ve used them. I will definitely practice more. The colours of the pen caps didn’t match very well with the ink colour. Also, the ink colour is significantly darker wet than dry: I had to wait as I went. I went over the lineart with my darkest pen.

Traditional media tracing with shading and lineart.


I scanned this drawing and imported it as a .png into Adobe Illustrator. I did a live trace, once opting for a fairly coarse and blocky vector image, and again for a black-and-transparent version of the darkest shades and lines. The first image is to mask my poor blending, and the second to cover up my shakey lineart. To what artistic result I leave to the beholder to decide.
I don’t have a tablet, so I made all the changes from the trackpad.
I changed the expression Eli’s eyes with live paint and fixed remaining shakiness in the lineart with the pen tool. I made more changes to Hawke’s anatomy here.


I tried to extend the image at the top for better composition but my impatience shows in the lack of blending in the upper left-hand corner.

Hockey art: Eli and Hawke
Final drawing, as altered and corrected in illustrator.


I give away my beginner status with the lack of shadows and background, and a lack of colour. For a character sketch, this is okay. For advancing in skill, this is not okay.
The process took about an hour and a half. Impatience is definitely my worst fault as an artist.
Then I messed up the upload links to the original story, argh. I do want to leave my art both anonymous and also linked to the inspiration. In any case, I’ll have to find a better way to do that.

Hockey Art Completed

I’m happy with what I ended up creating, flaws and all. I’d like to make larger sketches and work in more detail, but I’m limited by the size of my scanner. Since I drew this, I got an used ipad pro and an apple pencil. Time will tell if I can get a better result with these. I definitely need practice in these areas:

Fluid, confident lines
Anatomy for drawing
Perspective and background drawing
Colour theory

I’m excited to apply what I learned from this process to drawing hockey players. My goal is to progress to live sketching during games. Hockey art should capture the action.


  1. Omigawd this gets more awesome each time.
    I love how you laid down your process.
    And yeah I’m still crazy about the neck, the legs.

    Good luck with your new toys. The Apple Pencil is amazing. And let me know if you download autodesk sketchbook. I did but I’m yet to use it

    1. Aw sweetie I love seeing your name! Gotta download that app, see what I can do with it. Any requests? I’m hoping the new Check! Please is inspiring but any fandom is fine 🙂

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