Taking the challenge posted my Mark Holmes in his blog -and Liz Steel-, they do this every year. Here some of my sketches. I decided to focus on figure this time
This method really helps to get the likeness of the subjects. It’s based on relationships. I think there are methods that seem to feel more natural than others. I have tried Bridgman’s too and Loomis. There are some overlaps, it is helpful to learn about them all as they form a good foundation for the understanding of the head structure (full body anatomy as well)
I did several tries, I wanted to get the likeness but also to enhance what the model projects, she is classy and elegant naturally, a piercing glance with confidence yet very sweet.
The hair mass was fun to do. natural curls and jet black. black hair can be challenging to show texture and the direction of the strands, I used the finest point I had to give a loose texture all around the edge to suggest curly hair, and the natural shine of black hair. In reality the highlights are blue but with a black and white translation it’s just a matter of value. I was frugal with expression lines, with women and children, too many lines can age the face very quickly even if one is true to original. The rule of less is more.
I put special attention to the lips, it’s easy to fall into doing an outline, when the subject has lipstick and lip liner but again, it needs to be treated as value and breaking the mini volumes that form the cluster of the lip shapes, each of these mini volumes shaded in isolation for the final sum of the whole effect. Same with the 6 parts of the nose, the bony part the cartilage split in half, the wings and the tip of the nose. In some faces the split it’s almost invisible making out a very exquisite ball of the nose. It is necessary to be aware of this even if those lines are not drawn, if you understand what is to be found you can understand it’s visible absence too, or if a little hint is needed.
This method allows placing of the features in the right place, by drawing the spaces and delimitating the areas where the planes meet. It makes shading easier too as you see which planes, as the mapping shows, are in shadow, light, and where midtowns are as well. At the final pass in the inking process is really a process of elimination of the pencil work, with as few lines as possible, keeping ONLY those lines and shadows that tell the story of this face, it’s identity.
Pole dancers are very fun to sketch, the way they twist their bodies and do unusual poses and moves is very interesting and fascinating, like ballet, performance art. I did these from instagram friends. They are all done in ink with the carbon pen and the Lamy safari on a Stillman and Birn notebook.
For accuracy, I penciled first to resolve proportions, so that my line is cleaner when I ink rather than an spontaneous sketch that has many squiggly lines that fall around a ballpark approximation of proportion. I wanted to give justice to the beauty of these girls and their fabulous art.
I have been studying anatomy and expression, and revisiting the Reilly method of drawing. I learned the Reilly method through years of working at a studio of a very accomplished portrait artist in Boston: Mr Ouelette. Barbara Morse, another brilliant artist and wonderful woman, gave classes in his studio for years, and I was a fly on the wall learning as I posed in her demonstrations.
To me this is the best method I have seen as it is very organic and flexible, it has beautiful rhythm and it’s dynamic and lively. Here my attempts to experiment and implement this in my figures.
In my opinion the best source is Faragasso’s book, as Frank Reilly didn’t write any books on his method, yet his pupils did. Frank himself was a pupil of Bridgman who’s books are a bible for anyone who wants to get seriously in depth learning the construction of the human figure.
There’s three basic foundations to draw people: 1- understanding anatomy, 2- studying proportions and method of construction (Bridgman) and the academic classic Atelier method, and 3- learning to see the rhythm, grace and beauty of the human machine (Reilly)
I want to share this time a process from concept to execution for drafting inking and coloring a full comic page. It was really exciting to me ! First, this below is the background story pf how this comic came to be:
We are a group of friends from different countries in the FB group SW Comics, (Wes, Palma, Marion, Nicholas, Mark, Jutta, Jorge (+), Beliza, Cat, Jim, Holger, Sofiya, Marco, Paula, Carlos, Jane, Amy, Juliet, Jansi, Mia.. *see full list in the link** https://issuu.com/norightturn/docs/no_right_turn_20170425) led by Rene Fijten and we make stories!
Do you know or have heard about “Exquisite Corpse”? (Cadaver Exquisito) It is a method of creation in which people take turns developing a story or a project, it is passed on from person to person to keep developing and extend the story. This is how our “No Right Turn” has been done so far.
——————you can follow us in instagram @sketchingcomics————-
So, Rene gave me this
Then I printed it and added the background manually to the hard copy
Before starting it took me a few days to think about how to bring this concept to visual. Once I had the draft the whole proces was about 8 hrs 3 hrs one day and 6hrs today.
I think I’m comfortable with this process now!
I hope you liked it 😉
Continuing with the series here is the nect two portraits
This portrait took me two attempts, the first one was overworked and I ruined it, then with more familiarity with her features the second one show here was more relaxed. I wanted to capture her beauty, elegance and sense of entitlement
Then comes Athelstan, I looked at different pictures and could not find one that hadenough detail and at the same time express who he was. So I decided to base my portrait in one and take some artistic liberty
These are done in Stillman and Birn paper with highins and Deleter Inks. In the image above you can notice the dufference in the black saturation of the inks, the deleteris noticeably darker in the final accents.
There is a reason why I enjoy portraiture above all subjects, every face makes me very curious, I try to find what makes the faces unique. It’s never an exact replica because I add/eliminate expression lines, and exaggerate the main features. When I was young, not so long ago 😜 I was very impressed by the work of Patrick Nagel from whom I learned after carefully studying his method, how does he render eyes. Years later it was Hajime Sorayama and his hyperrealistic girls, from him I tried to learn the natural beauty of the “girl next door” his women were not perfect (their faces) they were REAL relatable faces.
Then I became very interested in the aging process of faces and how recurring expressions leave a mark. The face is totally asymmetric like two faces in one! I tried to understand what I call the light side and the dark side and enhance the best qualities of those features. The tilts of the head and the glances say a lot about character; lastly, the hair is an impression of mass, not detail, like creating a rhythm of blacks to balance and keep the viewer circling back to the face, like choosing a beautiful frame for art too.
Ideally, if everything is blurred the contrasts should make a beautiful balanced abstract composition.
I enjoy very much this process, one can get away with adding an extra branch to a tree but it is unforgiving to add an extra line that ages people beyond their true age or creates a cinycal smirk instead of a subtle smile or adds 10 lb of weight. If the eyes or the mouth is misaligned people can forget everything else that is good in the drawing and focus on that ONE awkward mistake. We instantly recognize those mistakes because faces reflect back to us as humans and we know instinctively something is off.
For this and reasons of utter beauty I find in people across races cultures shapes and sizes and what makes them unique as a fingerprint of nature, how could I not keep trying?
I decided to start a series of portraits of the chatacters in the Vikings TV show. The outfits and hairdos are stunning!
Ragnar had to be the first!
After a trial that left me with the itch of wanting to do something better I was finally happy with the likeness. My first try was in regular paper here:
It was too “accidental”, the new ink I am using: Deleter dries very fast and it’s very opaque and permanent, which is great! But for the final I had to use better quality paper that doesnt warp and wrinkle as much.
Before doing a final, I tried Lagertha, to refresh my eyes from Ragnar and go back to try again.
Very happy with the ink as well. I used nibs and holders for this drawing, the “blue pumpkin” and other Brause nibs. The ink dries to a rubber-like texture so it is very important to clean up the nibs very thoroughly!!
I worked through Christmas on a 20×30″ watercolor portrait. I rarely do life size in watercolor, my tools are selected for the scale I work the most, which is 11×14″ or 9×12″ so it was challenging to work with little brushes.
Another adjustment comes into play, being able to keep a good distance from the work so proportions are not off. For this particular job I pre-penciled, which I do very rarely. I wanted to get detail eventhough the provided image was low resolution.
Pictures are flat and there’s camera distortion to be compensated in “selfies” working from life is easer as you can observe in 3D and go around the subject or get closer if needed.
As I wanted to experiment before doing this project I did some practice testing with materials, color, and applications as a warm up. I did one in Prismacolor (previous post), and a couple of small watercolor, both 9×12″
Here they are: (no pre-pencil)
Given the fact that the image they gave me is low res. I decided to go for watercolor.
For the commission, I started with the pencil phase
The completed first wash, dried
Likeness was good and layering I think was ok. I’ll try with a more detail reference image next time, and see what I can do.
The Arches paper is 300lb cold press which is great for layering as much as needed and good support.
I used Daniel Smith watercolors for this.
I think I learned something 🙂 and I also need to go shopping for brushes!
I have some videos of the process in my Instagram @laurasfiatcreative
Back in the 90’s my main media was color pencil. I have done portraits since I was a teen. My main focus was understanding expression, if I could feel what the person in front of me was communicating through microexpressions, gesture, the way they glanced at things, the assymetry of the face -that is a result of a recurrent emotion-… the face would become a story that unveils in front of one’s eyes.
The story speaks about a fire inside, a flame, the longing for something. When a person smiles often, the emotion becomes imprinted even when they are not smiling. In youth, this fire is intense and it glows. In adulthood, the most common emotions have created distinct marks, cues, a wrinkle here and there.
Every face has it’s beauty, as it has the spark of life in it. One’s role is find the “constellation” which is basically the process of understanding what makes it unique, distinct. It’s not exactly making a replica of it but to find the “points” that can be exaggerated to achieve the likeness. The funny thing is that if you look at the specific eye or nose or hair strand you realize it’s just enough close to the original subject but it’s not a visual replica, yet it has the effect of the sum of the parts.
That is exactly my goal, that is not a photographic likeness but it is a likeness to the “real” feel of that person. One that they recognize and say “yes, I see myself in this portrait”
For the portrait of N the intent was to attain the expression, yet also to practice blending and bring back my old medium (prismacolor); 20 years of portraiture in different mediums. Going back to my basics feels like when you have taken a long journey and then revisit your hometown remembering places, and you find yourself walking and recalling more and more… your memories come back, muscle memory as well. How to blend, how to use the tooth of the paper and the direction of the grain, how to hold the pencil and do layering.
For this portrait I used the Stillman and Birn beta series. The texture is rough, which allows me to create texture to the skin, what would be an equivalent to pores. As this is a 9″ x 12″ sketchbook the effect is more visible. For a full scale realistic portrait I would use the art paper 22″ x 30″ working in bigger dimension woul bring the pores effect to a more realistic scale. This drawing is more of a study to see how it takes the layering proces and I see the potential to take more abuse without breaking the grain or tearing. Erasing ocassionally and recoloring could cause that if the paper is too thin. I got impatient with this sketch, I spent significant time on the eyes area and less on the hair and neck but I see the possibilities now. I got over excited to finish it. On the next one I’ll put in more time.
I Welcome back my old boxes of colors, that have kept very well by the way. I have a complete set of Spectracolors which is a brand that doesn’t exist anymore, they complement my prismacolors in range. The Spectracolors had the property of being dust free and become more vibrant with more pressure in the paper. It has a satin feel to it. It’s time to get out of that box after being dormant for so long, let’s get to work! I think after many years I must have learn a thing or two that I can do different today to make it better, and to perhaps achieve the elusive goal of “perfect portrait” one day…Not yet…!