View Full Version : 3rd try at Portraits! WIP C&C very welcome

07-09-2015, 02:31 AM
I'm determined to get a finished portrait that doesn't look not quiet right! :evil: so here is todays attempt at getting the job done properly. I usually start to make a hack of it towards the end.

So this is my usual medium, pastel pencils, Cansen 50cm x 60cm card/paper and im working from a black and white image this time (because I didn't already have enough to worry about :rolleyes: )

I have to blend a few things in still and add some darker shading but here is my progress so far ... please feel free to pull me up on any issues you see :lol:




and the reference im working from


Barbara WC
07-09-2015, 04:11 PM
Hi Emma-

Really great start on your 3rd portrait!

When I first saw the portrait, I thought things looked a little distorted, then I saw the photo you were working from- is it just me, or does the photo look a little distorted to you?

Translating from black and white to color is tricky, and the camera lies about values anyway...

Just a few suggestions. I paint from live models, and normally, what I see is that the darkest places in the face are the nostrils and the crease where there lips meet- although these are a "warm" dark color- think very dark red for instance. Well, actually, the pupils are the absolute darkest in a portrait- but I mean after the pupils, the nostrils and lip creases are a step or two down in value from the pupil. Even if the model has black eyelashes, normally, they are not as dark and prominent as you have in the painting- however, that is what the camera picked up in the photo you are working from, so something that would not be obvious since you are working from a photo. I would probably take out the dark "line" above the inner lower lid and the inside of the crease of his left eye- not sure if I'm making sense. The inner crease of the right eye looks good- the inner crease of the left eye could look the same. You might consider putting just a touch of a dark pink or almost red at the inner corner of the eyes- look at your own eye in the mirror, and you'll see what I mean.

It is great that you have not made the whites of the eyes white- and you have some of the gray shadows from the eyelids showing on the eyeballs- all good observations. Many beginners with portraits make the eyeballs pure white, and they aren't :)

To me, it looks like this portrait is about the eyes- which is why I've focused on the eyes :cat:

Nice job so far!

07-09-2015, 07:34 PM
Hi Barbra and thank you so much for this constructive feedback!! Its just what I was chasing :)

To start with here is the original photo which I cropped


Im not sure if its distorted ... it could be a little and I didn't take that into account when I was choosing a image ... whoops!

I got some great advice about eyeballs when I did my first portrait, so its great to hear I am applying the knowledge im learning well!
I will have a play around with the creases on that eye when I sit down with this next ... I love the expression in his face which is why I chose the image ... but I have turned the values right up in the black and white image so that I could see the shading on his face, otherwise for the most part it looked all the same tone. Its been quiet tricky and I noticed when I flicked to the original I had overdone some of the creases etc... so I should have been flicking between the the normal image and the one that I had amped up in values. (I hope that makes sense)
His nostrils are actually a dark browny red as are the inside of his ears and where his mouth meets etc. so I had picked up that just from observing people ... silly me not transferring that to the eyes! LOL

Thank you again Barbra, I will post an update in the next few days so you can see if ive addressed the problems :)

07-10-2015, 04:22 AM
A little more progress ... this was taken quiet late in the evening so the colours aren't showing all that true and some of the spots which are "popping" here don't seem to be standing out like that when looking with the naked eye



07-10-2015, 10:45 AM
I do not do portraits, so take that into consideration when I give my advice. I think the lips compete with the eyes and the focal point are the eyes and the expression he carries with them. So I would have the lips not be outlined but have them fading more into the surrounding mouth area with subtle color changes. Maybe look online to see good color examples as your reference photo is black and white. To me, it looks more like a woman who might be wearing lip liner as well as a little color.

I do think you're off to a wonderful start and I love the expression. You've carried it off so well!

Barbara WC
07-10-2015, 11:22 AM

About working from photos. I have a tough time working from photos, which is why I mostly paint from life.

However, one of my goals is to start working from photos because I have at least 100 photos in a pile of great images of people that I want to paint!!!

Anyway, I've now heard a couple of times some great tips on working from photos- photos often print with the shadow areas too dark (although in your case, it sounds like they were too light?). Regardless, print one photo that is way too dark- this can give you the correct light colors in the skin. Print one photo that is overexposed- this will give you more correct shadow colors (if the shadow values are too dark in the original) and print one photo in black and white to see the values. Work from a mix of all three. I think this takes some practice, but I took photos of my last still life and worked from the still life and the photos, and this worked well!

I agree with Patty about the lips- you can find numerous lip tutorials online. I didn't mention anything about the lips earlier, because I knew this was a WIP and I thought maybe you were going to go back and blend in the lips...

Looking good so far!

07-10-2015, 08:56 PM
Ahhh more great advice I can really get my teeth into! Thank you both again!

I wasn't happy with the mouth here to be honest so i'm glad you have thrown some advice my way regarding it. The first two portraits I mastered the mouth without to much issue but maybe that's because the images I was working from were in colour ... I will go in today and tone it down a little. He does have (and has always had) reasonably defined lips ... but I will see what I can do there :)

Thanks Barbra for the advice on printing them out ... I work directly off my PC and just flick between images I need to ... I used to print off my images but ended up with so much paper around the place and it used up so much expensive ink! So I just sit with my laptop to my right side and sketch/draw away :)

07-11-2015, 04:56 AM
Started to put the hair and neck in today ... hair will need a few more layers before it starts to look how it should but its certainly a start!

I also lightened off the lips as suggested ... hopefully you can see an improvement! ... How did I go with the left eye Barbra? (sorry first photo I over saturated in photoshop)



07-12-2015, 03:14 AM
Alrighty ... all finished and right now this minute im pretty happy with how he has finished up! ... the photos are always really washed out when directly uploaded so I always re saturate them in photoshop ... however they never colour up 100% true ... the bane of my life!!!! So there are a couple of photo's the same just saturated slightly differently as everyone's PC's are different ... I also included on de saturated one because it was a black and white reference I was working from and finally ... I included my reference again so any one who cares to can compare ... possibly a bit to dark on mine around the eyes ... but not to bad and I went a wee bit overboard with the hair on the left side top but no has ever complained about having to much hair ... right?? :lol:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jul-2015/1971026-Ed12.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jul-2015/1971026-Ed11.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jul-2015/1971026-Edbw.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jul-2015/1971026-Edcrop.jpg

Charles Perera
07-13-2015, 12:36 PM
Not bad ther is room for improvement.


07-13-2015, 06:08 PM
As with Kurt's painting, one eye is larger than the other - you need to be aware of that tendency when you do your next one.

You need to push your values further. This would be simplified if you get a reference photo with more shading instead of flat on full light.

In the absence of camera values, put them in yourself! The face and neck are a cylinder - the sides curve AWAY from the viewer. Thus they need to be darker as they recede away. Even with full front lighting they will do it. If you don't want to touch this one, do another drawing of him and push the values. Its just paper!

You are off to a great start in portraits, catch these errors early on and focus on more fun things :)

07-13-2015, 06:31 PM
Thank you again Melinda ... the eyes on this one are actually pretty correct ... I checked and re checked through my process by up loading my picture into photoshop and over lapping the image over it to see where I was out ... I was worried about the eyes here as well, but they lined up well with the image well ... Ive learnt to use photoshopas a tool to get features correct.
The advice on the shapes is a good one ... I guess I just got wrapped up in the details and forgot the logic side of things ... 4th portrait will be underway soon so lets see if I can't improve again!

Charles I actually prefer this one over the other one you commented on ... but thank you for having a look and leaving your thoughts :)