Portrait – The Reilly Method

Handouts for my latest workshop class on the Reilly Method of drawing portraits.
This is the most intuitive way to draw portraits I have ever found. Based on relationships. When I learned it I used to get lost into the process of where to start, how to see. I created this sequence to un-complicate the thought process for anybody who learns it for the first time. So see it applied here’s a post and here another post

Inana’s Portrait – Reilly Method

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.

2018-03-19 12.33.20I 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.

2018-03-20 18.37.01

Vikings 2nd Set

Continuing with the series here is the nect two portraits

Queen Aslaug

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?

Vikings

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.


And here is Ragnar again, this time in Stillman and Birn Zeta Series paper that I cut from my large 9×12 sketchbook


I was really happy with this, ink flows nicely and smooth and wrinkle free! I specially enjoyed working the pattern in the clothing, and the beard. Scribbling is fun.

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!!  

Large Scale Portrait

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


I followed by inking it ​



I proceeded with a first wash and corrected the jaw line, it was too wide.


The completed first wash, dried


I applied the other layers

The final work

In the end I realized that I need a big mop brush to do a more splashy background and hair, but there is always next time! 

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

Portrait of N. in Prismacolor

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…!

Pen and Ink Portraits November

Portraits it’s my favourite subject. I have found a lot of inspiration in images from the SKCHY app community.

These portraits take from 20 to 40 min and are all done with a Lamy Pen, a pen and nib holder for the heavier lines, and the Pentel Brush on Stillman and Birn paper, Beta series.

I’m trying to be more defined by investing more time in detail. From the begining I set my mind in how much time I want to spend on the sketch. Then I draw my lines accordingly slowing down or taking time with the strokes. There is a significant difference between short or longer sketches. I always aim for the sketch to “feel” complete so when i work I work all over, like i don’t start with an eye making it all detailed, I start with an oval shape, placing marks and looking for distinct features that makes that particular face unique, I then exaggerate a little those features and find a touch of beauty that comes naturally. There is a difference in how I see and feel a face from what I try to translate it to lines. Like having an insight on what the face expresses to me. I try to reveal those thoughts visually.

 

 

 

Inktober 2016

Some of my works in ink for this month. One sketch/day following a trend started by artist Jake Parker http://mrjakeparker.com/inktober

Many artists follow this globally every year and it’s nice to see so many sketches in social media all in ink for one month. There are some prompts but I usually do what I feel like. This month I have been having fun with an app: Sktchy where people upload their selfies and you can pick one to draw. The cool thing is that there is a slider and you see the before and after to compare picture vs art and people can comment and “wow” it.

All of these are done in my new Stillman and Birn softcover betaseries and using a Lamy pen, the Pentel Brush and several inks from Goulet Pens

Game of Thrones Portraits

This week I though it’s been a while since I have done portraits, so I decided to chose a good subject, the TV series Game of Thrones. The characters are very interesting and have fascinating depth. I thought it would be fun to try to convey my understanding of the characters through expression.

For this series, I used Higgins permanent ink and Brause nibs. About 4 different nib sizes and my usual Stillman and Birn notebook, Zeta Series, excellent for ink!

I chose the first characters randomly and I enjoyed myself so much that I kept going for about three days, completing several portraits. This is the first set of the week. Each took me about 30 min.

My general process is the following:

First it’s the proportions and marks to set the placement of the features. Once that was resolved, I did a brief inking process with the finest point, and decide on the focal point,  usually it’s the eyes. The eyes and mouth are the main keys to resolve any portrait, yet every face has a distinct feature that no one else has, like a fingerprint, my goal is always to discover what makes this face unique, and then exaggerate that slightly to get the likeness. I also chose an emotion that I see is recurrent to that character.

I have done portraits for over 20 years; it is in fact my favorite subject. Facial features fascinate me, and I have discovered so much in the process of drawing them. The face is asymmetric, as we tend to do gestures with one half of the face more often than the other, this creates lines of expression that, with the years, become permanent. Half of the face has a sweeter expression than the other half. If two pictures were composed of two reflected halves from each side of the face we would see almost an entirely different person in some cases.

I keep this in mind when I draw portraits. My trick is to exaggerate that difference to get the resemblance, observing what is unique.

Actor Jason Momoa is an exception. He has an outstandingly symmetrical face. That was very interesting to me. Since I couldn’t do my usual approach I had to stop and analyzed what made his face unique. Undoubtedly he had striking features. I focused on the eyes. A very distinct shape and expression.

I started by drawing him from a high resolution photograph where I could see good detail. The facial hair that his character wears on the TV series Game of Thrones made it difficult to see the jaw line and the shape of the face clearly; I decided to transform this drawing into Khal Drogo on my own, based on several images.

In the first sketch you can see the completed sketch off the photo and the following sketch shows the final drawing where I gave myself artistic freedom to add what was needed so he could look like the character he portrays.

Materials:

Support:
Surface: Beta Series – Extra Heavyweight – 270 gsm – White – Cold Press Finish

The drawing was done on a Beta Series Notebook, wire-bound, 9″ x 12″. I always use heavy stock as I can have the option to add watercolor if I wanted to.

The paper is white yet the images were taken under a yellowish light and it looks like colored paper, but it’s not, yet, I liked how it looked.
I used permanent ink, again, just in case if I wanted to add watercolor. I always use permanent ink so it won’t run.
In the series of portraits of this particular TV show I was consistent using the same media, same paper, ink, and fine flexible nib with a short holder.

My favorite series are the Beta and Zeta, the Zeta I use when I work solely in ink; the Beta series have the extra tooth that work really well with water media without warping. This portrait was heavy on the ink, the Zeta could have take it, but I still may turn this into watercolor renderings at some point.

I made portraits of other characters as well that can be seen in my blog noted below.

Khal Drogo before and after

momoaDrogo

Jon Snow


Khalesi

Tywin Lannister

Cersei Lannister

Ramsay Bolton

Sansa Stark

No one

Arya Stark