Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oops! My bad.

At each step in the process of creating a portrait, I tend to spend a lot of time simply looking at what I have drawn and comparing it to the original image. When I got to this point in the drawing I realized that I had made several mistakes. I have pointed them out with red arrows in the image below.

  • The first area is around her right eye. I did not include the shading that gave dimension to the face. The result was that her head was looking a lot wider than it really is.
  • The next problem was the shape of the cheek. It was subtle, but I did not made the cheek quite wide enough. I had to actually erase the line of the cheek and rework it. Be careful when erasing. use light gentle strokes with the eraser until you have removed enough of the graphite. You do not want to remove any paper or you will have a LOT of trouble getting it to look nice and smooth when you go back to it.
  • Now we start getting to a couple of the bigger mistakes. The area of the right cheek, just below her dimple was way too smooth. If you look at the original image you will see that there is a lot more chubbiness in the cheeks than what I created. This required me to remove a great deal of graphite that made up that area. Once I did that, it gave the cheek more definition and brightened her smile.
  • That same problem showed up on the other side of her face as now.
  • The biggest problem though, was the are between her lower lip and her chin. I actually turned the shadows the wrong way. This took a great deal of erasing and reblending to correct.
The result of the mistakes that I had been making was causing the portrait to look like a much older child than Tanna really is. There are actually a couple of other mistakes, but I didn't notice them until much later.

Below is a copy of the original so that you can compare and see exactly what I am talking about.

After making the corrections I was able to continue on with the drawing.I decided to move down and finish all of the skin tone areas. It is very important to get the neck to look right. As always, focus on the shadows and recreate them. Make sure that you do not create a line around the chin. Many people spend a lot of time on the face and leave the neck as an afterthought. The result is always what I call "Talking Heads." It looks like a face floating in air. In order to keep a portrait looking like a professional portrait you have to consider the neck to be just as important as the rest of the face. It is a continuation of the face and creates an anchor for the entire image.

Then, by creating the rich dark areas to frame the face, we are starting to get an image that actually looks like a beautiful young girl.

Before considering this stage of the portrait finished I decided to throw in the basic lines of the hair. When doing this, pay close attention to the various waves and nuances that make up shape of the hair. At this point, you are not trying to create the hair, but simply lay in the shape. These shapes will be your guidelines when working with the rest of the hair.

Tip: When drawing hair you should always move your pencil in the same direction that the hair is flowing. In other words, from inside out, or from top to bottom.

In our next lesson we will focus entirely on the hair and what you need to do to make it look as real as possible.

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