Thursday, November 27, 2008

The purpose of this site

This site is starting to get a very large number of readers. As such, I think it is important that I attempt to explain exactly what it is that I am trying to do here. However, I think I should also explain what this site is not. My purpose in this site is not to teach art or to help people become artists. The purpose of this site is to teach a technique that can be used to recreate any photograph as a graphite drawing. I focus on portraits, because they are extremely popular.

So do I consider this technique a form of art? Actually, no, I do not. Allow me to explain why. Art is something special. It comes from the creativity of the artist. It is something that is inspired. I personally do not believe that art can be taught. No one can teach you how to be inspired, it is a spark that comes from deep inside each individual person. That being said, it is possible to teach techniques that are used in the creation of art.

That is what I am doing. I am teaching some techniques. Primarily, I am teaching how to use a tortillion. I am also teaching how to see. But first and foremost I am teaching how to use the tools.

Using what I teach on this website you can create a pencil portrait of a family member or of a beloved pet and give it as a Christmas present or hang it above you fireplace.

What is important to understand is that I am teaching a very limited range of techniques. At some point in the future I might expand the tutorials into a broader range. But for now my goal in this site is to show people the techniques that I have learned to create realistic pencil portraits from photographs.

I highly encourage anyone that wants to learn the traditional artistic methods to seek a degree from a reputable university, art school or community college. But the most important thing, is that you do what you love and you love doing what you do. If you enjoy your life, the universe will go out of its way to provide you with an enjoyable life. If drawing pencil portraits from photographs is what you love, then this is the place for you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Final Touches - Drawing Eyes

This is the final result. Once again, much of the detail was lost in the process of saving the image to the web. But I think there is enough here that we can talk about it. Let me pop in an image zoomed up to show one eye more clearly:

Remember an earlier lesson where I talked about the hatching technique for creating the lines in the iris? That same technique needs to be used in creating the small hairs that form the eyebrows. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when creating eyebrows:
  • Use hatching technique
  • "Always" follow the natural line of the hair
  • Start where the hair attaches to the skin then hatch in the direction that the hair lays
  • All hair must have an anchor, it can't just sit in open space, it must appear to be attached to the skin
  • The hairs are not haphazard. Know exactly where you are going with each one before you "hatch" it in
  • As always "reproduce what you are actually seeing"
Tip: Sketch in hair to fill the area, then use a tortillion to blend them all out. Then use the pencil to add more hair. This will give the illusion that there is depth and many layers of hair.

Eye Lashes:
Pay particular attention to where the eye lashes are connected to the eyelid. If you want it to look realistic you must have the hairs attach correctly. The biggest problem that I used to have with eye lashes was that I was trying to draw in three dimensions. I knew that the eye lashes came out from the eye and my mind wanted to try to recreate that. As we know, that is not possible. So, look at your original as exactly what it is, a two dimensional image. Look at the eyelashes as if they are lines going across the other areas of the eye. Then draw them exactly as you see them.

The same things that I pointed out above when talking about eyebrows are important here as well.

Skin is never perfect, there always freckles or other spots that define character. This is where you keep your finished image from looking like a porcelain doll. With your pencil simply draw the blemishes where you see them, then use the tortillion to smooth them out. Blending them a little bit will anchor them to the skin so that they don't just look like dots drawn on the face.

All skin has wrinkles but remember that not all wrinkles look the same. In this image there were a few wrinkles under the eyes and more tinier wrinkles where the corner of the eye meets the nose. Using very light strokes with the pencil, sketch the wrinkles in. You will likely want to go over them very lightly with the tortillion just like you did with the blemishes.

For the larger wrinkles you will want to look very close at your original source image. You will notice that there is a bit of reflective light along one edge of the wrinkle. Using an eraser that is sharpened to a fine point will help you get those highlights in place.