Beginning with the eyes I aimed for a near complete pastel coverage, except for the areas of reflected light (the white of the paper, left blank). I used a blending tool (my finger) to get the colour into all the subtle dips on the page.


I built detail with incrementally darker tones, leaving some white spaces of paper for depth. Again, I used my fingers to help blend the layers.


I began to hone the detail. It is very easy for a subject like a gorilla to turn out looking like a monochrome piece of art, so I included generous amounts of colour to highlight the blue tinge of the gorilla’s fur, and incorporated a bit of warm light with geranium lake.


Mountain Gorilla, Derwent pastel pencils, (37x56cm).

I reworked the eyes a bit using titanium white, and added some extra detail. When I was satisfied with how they looked I finished with a light spray of fixative to maintain their glassy texture

Martin Aveling grew up in Africa and studied at Bristol University. He has exhibited with the Society of Wildlife Artists and at the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year, as well as in Africa and the USA, and won awards for his work.

Martin strives to raise the profile of endangered wildlife around the world and to generate support for conservation. He has a number of limited edition prints for sale, including one of the mountain gorilla demonstrated here. For details see

This demonstration is taken from Martin's article in the February 2018 issue of The Artist