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View Full Version : Skin Tones and a Maze of Circular Logic!!!


Troy Rochford
10-28-2005, 03:50 AM
Circleism, Circulism, Circularism, Circlerammalammadingdong!!!

Hi All,

By request, I'm posting a brief explanation of the technique that I usually use for skin tones in graphite portraits. As I've indicated, we will cover this in greater depth sometime fairly soon in a realistic portraiture lesson in 101, but for now this will hopefully give some of you something to work on, play around with, debate, etc etc etc... :D Before going any further, let me reiterate again that this is MY approach, and it may not necessarily work for you. It doesn't always work for me! And I don't always use the same exact approach. I think it is important and beneficial that portrait artists explore this technique, but it is equally important that you find your own way and do not become slaves to any one style, method, and so on.

With Armin's permission, I recently did a portraiture exercise for the purpose of getting back in practice (I'd been doing pretty much nothing but pen and ink work at the time and was seriously out of practice with graphite in general) and used the Stage 1 scan of his son Jeremey's eye as my "reference photo." I made some careless mistakes on this, so it's not the greatest example in the world, but I suppose it's sufficient for the purpose of this thread. I certainly did not plan for this to be the basis of any kind of lesson or anything like that, so I did not scan my version in stages, but I will post it here and explain briefly the method that I used to create it.

As we all know, scanners do strange things with your work, so I am posting two images here. The first is a b/w scan of my drawing, which is closer in terms of tonality to the original, but is less accurate texturally because somehow greyscaling always seems to blur my scans. The second scan is a color scan, which makes the tonality look a bit off, but this is closer to reality in terms of texture.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2005/38425-eyetest1.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2005/38425-eyetest2.jpg

A parenthetical note before going further. I was first introduced to this technique as a colored pencil artist, so my approach to this method differs slightly from those of some other graphite artists. Armin, for instance, has said that he generally tones the area he is working with graphite powder before doing actual pencil work. I believe that Reinhard said he shades in lightly with the side of his pencil before beginning circles and all that jazz. I approach it like I would a cp work, which is to say that I do neither of the above. I begin with blank paper and slowly, lightly layer from the word "Go" until I achieve the tonality that I'm after. This means that in most cases, it will take me many more layers to achieve the same result, but this seems to yield the best results for me personally - if only psychologically. ;) It should also be noted that, at least with my personal approach, the term "circular" refers actually to the hand motion involved more than it does the actual application of the graphite. In the early layers of my drawings, I am not concentrating so much on literally drawing tiny circles on the paper, but rather moving my pencil in that motion and moving across the paper extremely lightly. This actually results in the pencil touching the paper at random, creating short strokes that fall into an overall circular, or non-directional pattern. In the later layers when pressure is increased, THEN my method does indeed involve literally putting circles down on paper.

Now, for the record, the following materials were used for this drawing:

* Stonehenge paper - white
* .05mm mechanical pencil - 2b
* Med. Wolffs carbon pencil

I do also want to mention something that has come up several times lately both on the board and in private discussions that I've had with other artists. Too often we create extra work for ourselves for no good reason. One of the things that always drove me crazy as a graphite artist in the past was the necessity of involving a whole arsenal of pencils into one piece of work. There's a very simple solution to that: Use a mechanical pencil. The line control, consistency of line, and fine detail work that you get with a mechanical pencil is unparalleled, and you have two added bonuses. You never have to sharpen them, and because of the higher density of the lead in a mechanical pencil, you can produce a remarkably wide range of values-including pure black- with a simple 2b lead. I've had people balk at me when I tell them that, and to prove my point I am including an unrelated scan here from one of my other works. Everything in the scan below, including the pure black, was rendered with a 2b mechanical pencil, with zero blending, and zero fixative spray in between layers. If you look closely toward the edge of the bottom right quadrant of this scan, you can see where I stopped doing my final layer of black in the background to take this scan. This will give an idea as to the progression to black, since you can see what it looks like before that final layer. This circular method of applying the graphite also lends itself very well to backgrounds, as it results in a completely uniform, non-directional and glare-free finish if done correctly.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2005/38425-warlock13.jpg

Step-By-Step of Eye

Once I got the line drawing down on paper, I began by blackening the entire pupil (except for catchlight) and the really dark lash area just above the iris with the carbon pencil. I then used the mechanical pencil to fully render the iris and shade the eyeball (***As this was just an exercise, I took the lazy route here and shaded the eyeball more heavily than normal, and blended it out with a tissue. This was a mistake and actually flattened out the eyeball a bit. What I would normally do on a commissioned piece for this step would be to shade the eyeball VERY lightly with the 2b pencil, then go over that with a VERY sharp F graphite pencil to give it a touch of a slick, shiny finish.)

Moving on, I then blocked in the darker shadow areas by applying two very light circular layers with the mechanical pencil in ONLY those areas. Additionally, I put in some stray hairs in both the brow and lash area to establish the general direction and presence of both.

I then did a light "wash" over the entire skin area. That left me with some shadows blocked in, and the rest of the skin an extremely light layer of graphite. If you look around the unfinished edges of the scan below, you can see traces of what the initial wash looked like. This will give you an idea of just what I mean when I say LIGHT layers!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2005/38425-eyetest4.jpg

From here, it is not rocket science... just continue layering and modeling until you get the tonality how you want it. I'm including a larger closeup scan below if that helps any.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Oct-2005/38425-eyetest7.jpg

Well, that's it! If any of you are still awake after reading this, I hope this helps! Happy drawing! :)

AlisonBC
10-28-2005, 04:49 AM
Thanks Troy, I am going to have to find a suitable 'skin' photo to practice with :D

The bottom picture shows the 'circles' quite clearly, which is good as I was confused by the idea of drawing in circles.

Can you tell me what size the eye is please?

Mary Woodul
10-28-2005, 06:40 AM
Thank you Troy, for sharing this with us. ;)

Reinhard1
10-28-2005, 07:08 AM
Troy, thanks for posting this. :clap: :clap: :clap:
You are correct, we all do it more or less the same way. Especially these first layers where the lead nearly does not touch the paper always gives me the shiver but in the end all comes together.
I am looking forward with interest to your more detailed 101 portrait class.
Until then,
"happy circling" :wave: :wave: :wave:

p.s. One more thing from my own painful learning experience. When circling I have the hardest and darndest time to always come back with my eyes to the area I am working on on the reference making me jump all ove the place and lose control. What I am experimenting with is putting "markers" next to area I am on forcing my eye always back. I use, depending on what surface I work (flat or easel) a pencil, my circle template over the respective area, post-it notes on the easel, Whatever helps me to avoid jumping all over.

Anita Murphy
10-28-2005, 07:28 AM
Interesting reading Troy!

mothsailor
10-28-2005, 07:49 AM
Thanks Troy, very interesting.

Borum
10-28-2005, 09:00 AM
:clap: :clap: Thank you for taking the time in doing this..... :clap: :clap:

bsnowden
10-28-2005, 09:10 AM
Very informative and very well-presented.

chaz
10-28-2005, 09:22 AM
Great article Troy. Thanks for posting it.

Chuck

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 10:41 AM
Again Troy, this is a great introduction to circulism in graphite! Thank you so much! I can't wait for your portrait class to see you go into more details about this. :D I'll wait until then to ask all my new annoying questions. ;)

Now I just need to order my mechanical pencil. I can get "sketch" pencils in town, but the people at the so called art stores here look at me like I have a third eye when I ask where the mechanical pencils are. :rolleyes:

As a meaningless side note: The first time I heard the term "Circulism" was from an artist named Maggie Toole. I asked her to do a lesson for one of my sites and she explained her technique in circulism which was her answer to pointillism in colored pencil since that takes way too long for many cp artists.

Anita Murphy
10-28-2005, 11:05 AM
Karen - try places like Office Depot and Office Max for Mechanical pencils.

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 11:08 AM
Karen - try places like Office Depot and Office Max for Mechanical pencils.
Thanks Anita! I never would have thought of that.
Can you tell I'm a newbie in graphite art? ;)

SparrowHawk7
10-28-2005, 11:15 AM
For what it's worth ... I used graphite holders and 2mm Staedtler "leads" for my John Lennon and found they worked quite well as my developing style uses a rather dull point much of the time. (2H, HB, 2B, 4B).

Ken

Troy Rochford
10-28-2005, 11:41 AM
Karen - Maggie is who I learned this from. Thanks for the reminder. I couldn't remember who specifically I got it from.

Thanks for the replies and all, and I appreciate that you guys find it to be "interesting reading" lol.. I hope some of you actually get something useful out of it, though!:)

Reinhard1
10-28-2005, 12:07 PM
Karen, try the simple BIC pen. This is it.

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 12:38 PM
Karen, try the simple BIC pen. This is it.
You mean a pen? Something you can't erase? ...gulp.
I think you may have more confidence in my abilities than I do. ;)

I will try that for the fun of a challenge though. :D

Blah
10-28-2005, 01:15 PM
Very interesting Troy.....can't wait to try it.

Blah

SparrowHawk7
10-28-2005, 01:24 PM
I've said this elsewhere, but I wouldn't have had the courage to try this technique had it not been for Troy. I began to PM him a few weeks ago and he shared much of what he presented here with me. After asking some questions I gave it a try ... but privately. My first attempt was only worthwhile as practice but he gave me C&C on both the technique and my rendition which was invaluable. When I decided to forge ahead with a new drawing he encouraged me all the way and I feel I have met with a major step forward in my artistic abilities as a result.

Thanks, Troy. :wave:
Ken

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 01:58 PM
Ken, I totally agree with you! I had no idea how to do anything other than sketch with graphite. Troy was great at explaining this technique in terms that I as a colored pencil artist understood. Now I'm learning how to really use this medium and it's so much fun! :D

One of these days I have to get Troy out here to teach a workshop... either that or show up at his door and say, "Don't mind me... I'm just here to watch you work.".

Welll... I am president of his fan club after all. ;) :D

Reinhard1
10-28-2005, 02:06 PM
Karen, no not the BIC ballpoint pen but the if I recall correctly the "BIC click". But if I confuse more than clarify, please forget my post.

Molesworth
10-28-2005, 02:09 PM
Thanks Troy. I've heard the term "circularism" a few times recently but couldn't work out how to get started. thank you for such a clear, detailed explanation.
regards
Stan

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 02:14 PM
Karen, no not the BIC ballpoint pen but the if I recall correctly the "BIC click". But if I confuse more than clarify, please forget my post.
That's alright... I just don't know all the types of pencils yet. Ask me about different cp pencils and I'm cool on those, but I'm just learning graphite so any help is apreciated! :D

Reinhard1
10-28-2005, 02:27 PM
Karen, I just took a look at your homepage and I think you are selling yourself VERY short. I liked what I saw there. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Troy Rochford
10-28-2005, 02:34 PM
Karen you can wander drunkenly into a wal mart at 3 in the morning and get a mechanical pencil! They aren't hard to find. If you're looking for a really durable high quality pencil, you can go the extra mile and get what I use: Alvin Draft/Matic. They run about 12-15 bucks each. But a cheapie from wal mart for 3 bucks will get you by.

Now you weren't supposed to mention my coming up there to teach you stuff. And I didn't know it was supposed to involve art!;) I guess I better re-pack my things for the trip:)

Judi1957
10-28-2005, 02:43 PM
Great article Troy. Nice to read it w/o all the side lines. :p
Did start an eye but think I will pick a new one and see how it goes.

Karen, Please have someone drive you to Wal-Mart! :eek:

Karen Cardinal
10-28-2005, 02:47 PM
LOL Troy... but if I wander drunkenly into the walmart at 3am, how will they know I'm a customer and not an employee? ;)

Ohhhhh... I'm kidding people! Don't send hate mail! :D

Thanks so much for the tips! Now I know where to look.

Uhhh... I'm not even going to ask what you had packed in your suitcase... :evil: ;)

Reinhard, thank you very much for the compliment on my work! I keep hoping to get my site updated one day with some of my newer work. I have some things on there that are kind of embarrasing now.
I really appreciate the compliment!

Troy Rochford
10-29-2005, 06:24 PM
Great article Troy. Nice to read it w/o all the side lines. :p
Did start an eye but think I will pick a new one and see how it goes.

Karen, Please have someone drive you to Wal-Mart! :eek:

Sidelines?? :confused:

As for the "article," thank you for the kind words.:) I didn't have a lot of time to put into this, so the presentation isn't the greatest in the world, but hopefully it will help. Some of the people who asked for this info have not even checked in on this thread though, so perhaps it is not useful after all. :eek: Oh, say it isn't so!!!

KAREN - yes you DO need to update your site. I feel like I have engaged in time travel every time I visit there.;)

Karen Cardinal
10-29-2005, 07:13 PM
KAREN - yes you DO need to update your site. I feel like I have engaged in time travel every time I visit there.;)
LOL! Yea... well it's probably a good thing I don't have my REALLY old work on there. :rolleyes: ;)

I'll get it updated... right after I finish the updates for 4 other sites, draw a christmas card, 2 portraits and a work using only complimentary colors ... but at least I've got a good month and a half to get those done. ;)

btw Isn't it enough that Ken and I are following your tour bus around from town to town? How many crazed fans do you want anyway? ;) :D

Troy Rochford
10-29-2005, 07:51 PM
LOL! Yea... well it's probably a good thing I don't have my REALLY old work on there. :rolleyes: ;)

I'll get it updated... right after I finish the updates for 4 other sites, draw a christmas card, 2 portraits and a work using only complimentary colors ... but at least I've got a good month and a half to get those done. ;)

btw Isn't it enough that Ken and I are following your tour bus around from town to town? How many crazed fans do you want anyway? ;) :D

You haven't thrown any panties at me though. Ken does! :D :eek: ;)

sultry
10-29-2005, 07:53 PM
Since you pmd me to look I can say your instruction on the technique is good.

Karen Cardinal
10-29-2005, 07:58 PM
You haven't thrown any panties at me though. Ken does! :D :eek: ;)
Yea that Ken... always trying to one up me...
I flash... he throws panties... I throw my bra... he throws... well I don't want to say what he does. :eek: ;)

I just want to know how he got a back stage pass last week? :wink2:

DBSullivan
10-29-2005, 08:49 PM
Troy, Great job on this! :clap: (I just love a good tutorial!)

If I can ever get the pen out of my hand, I must give this a try. You did a good job giving a clear explanation.. the folks here in D/S must be pleased to have you around!

Judi1957
10-29-2005, 08:59 PM
Dave - we are happy to have Troy! :)
I am going to start a portrait-hopefully this week using the technique....or at least an eye! :D

KellyDawn
10-29-2005, 10:02 PM
Wow Troy! Now I would like to know how to do that slick shiney finish you were talking about!! I wanna know about slick!

OOOOOOOOO and those pencils! I am retired as a draftswoman and I have gobs! I mean GOBS of mechanicle pencils. It is nice to know they will not go to waste!:clap::clap::clap:

JayD
10-30-2005, 06:08 PM
Troy, I've been in and out this last past week nursing a severe migraine--I finally ended up over at old doc McFadden's for a shot of whatever he shoots me up with in these situations. Anyway--the headaches have slightly subsided and I can at least read the computer screen.

This is a much, much needed tutorial to one of the most diverse subjects that we have. I think there are more ways to approach this subject then there are smiths in a phone book. I dont use Armin's technique (or I would would probably need more shots)--I do use the wash technique and I tend to layer where needed. This is a slow process and takes a great deal of patience. Like you, I rely on my cp background to draw (pardon the pun) for techniques and have benefitted from the the cp approach. I think that anyone who follows your tutorial on this subject cannot help but advance their talents and I urge them to try and as Howard David Johnson would say, "practice, Practice, Practice". This implies that, while your techniques are valid and solid and good comon sense--they are NOT magic formulae sprung forth from the tips and erasers of cosimic pencil genii. Certainy, you have a practical approach and ANYONE who reads, and thinks about your wise words and examples cannot help to improve.

So guys--TRoy has put a LOT of hard work in this tutorial and it is obvious that there has been a lot of research.

So start posting some of your examples showing how you have benefitted from his tutorials. I challenge you!--especially you cp-heads!!!

Karen Cardinal
10-30-2005, 06:19 PM
they are NOT magic formulae sprung forth from the tips and erasers of cosimic pencil genii.
What do you mean they're not magic formulae? Next you'll be telling me there is no such thing as the colors "fog" and "glass" in acrylic paints. :rolleyes:
I'm starting to wonder who to believe now. ;)

So start posting some of your examples showing how you have benefitted from his tutorials. I challenge you!--especially you cp-heads!!!
This cp-head would love to comply as soon as someone sends me a scanner or digital camera since mine bit the dust. :(

Sorry to hear about your migrains JayD! Those things can get you down like nothing else. Hope the doc got you all cured up so you can hang around now!

Troy Rochford
10-30-2005, 06:21 PM
Lol thanks Jay. One thing though... my pencil IS magic. I just wasn't going to mention that.;)

beachwalker
10-30-2005, 07:13 PM
Karen - Maggie is who I learned this from. Thanks for the reminder. I couldn't remember who specifically I got it from.

Thanks for the replies and all, and I appreciate that you guys find it to be "interesting reading" lol.. I hope some of you actually get something useful out of it, though!:)

Troy, your intro to this thread is extremely interesting and articulate. The circulism approach to applying graphite is another really effective way of building tone into a drawing. Maggie Toole has had great success with this technique in cp, and it does seem to translate well into graphite pieces. However, I would tend to agree with Reinhard, who seems to be saying that finding the original point of reference for shading is difficult when this technique is used. (Reinhard, if I am interpreting this incorrectly, please correct me! :) )

Troy Rochford
10-30-2005, 07:23 PM
Cindy can you elaborate on that? I don't necessarily dispute what you're saying, but I want to make sure I understand your point before I can comment! Gracias:)

beachwalker
10-30-2005, 07:37 PM
Troy, are you referring to my comment about finding the original point of reference for shading when using circulism?

JayD
10-30-2005, 07:39 PM
karen, I watched my geography teacher send a student out for a bucket of striped paint. That day the student never returned that day, I figure that like the man who disappeared on the MBTA (reference the folk song) that we would never see him again...but really stupid people are like boomerangs and he retured the next day--empty handed.

The migraines seem to be getting worse and it is sometimes hard to concentrate but I will muddle through---I think in my next life I will come back as a sponge--that way I can just sit around and absorb.

Sorry about your digital camera and scanner--doubled whammied, I see. Well, do it when you can--I miss your delightful work.

Cindy, I dont really equate O'tooles circulist approach with the graphite technique. For one thing cp circulism relies on a colored ground(this comes directly from O'Toole even thought I have seen some artist work directly on white) and a visual mix of differnent colors to be effective--also unlike standard cp techniques, O'Toole says that her best results are with a duller pencil (not so sharp, folks). Also in cp circulism, size does count whereas in graphite, smaller is better as you are trying to create as close to a realistic look as possilbe. In CP, the drawing IS about seeing the circles.

brigante
10-30-2005, 07:41 PM
Greetings All,

There has to be one daft enough, so I throw away my certificate of sanity, have a feww slugs of JD and say first. Thanks to all you people out there,especially Troy, Reinhard, Sparrowhawk et al. I can't compete but thanks to you I have been persuaded to start a drawing that looks like a face. Another slug....daft and insane....but grateful.
Way to go!..........tim

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Oct-2005/67736-arnie.jpg
oh!! forgot to say this is Arnie....I think

JayD
10-30-2005, 07:53 PM
The gubernator er governator--I think you can put away the Jack Daniels (good choice by the wa)--you have a rough textural style which is really working here--fix the ear lobe --Arnie's left and maybe work on the dark shadow of the chin just a tiny bit and you are good to go. Especially out standing are the glasses and the hair. Very good so far!

Troy Rochford
10-30-2005, 08:03 PM
Cindy - YES that's what I was referring to!

JAY - I think youre right actually, and Karen just said something to me about that as well. I couldnt remember where I got the technique and when she mentioned Maggie, it sounded right to me. But, as Karen now points out, I must not have picked this up from Maggie, because circulism as it relates to graphite would actually be more accurately compared to scumbling in cp. So.... I dont know who the hell I got it from!!! lol. Point is, I learned it as a cp technique and adapted it to graphite. At the end of the day, it is essentially the same technique employed by Armin, just a slight variation thereof. That is not to be confused with saying the results are similar to Armin's, becaues we all know better than that!!!;) Tim, nice work for a first effort. Keep practicing with that and you'll love your results. I've got an arnold around here somewhere that I did with this technique. I shall have to dig....

Karen Cardinal
10-30-2005, 08:22 PM
karen, I watched my geography teacher send a student out for a bucket of striped paint. That day the student never returned that day, I figure that like the man who disappeared on the MBTA (reference the folk song) that we would never see him again...but really stupid people are like boomerangs and he retured the next day--empty handed.
LOL! his name wasn't Charlie was it? ;)
That is one funny teacher! The funny ones in my high school weren't that creative... they just picked a kid up and tossed them out the window. (it was a one story school) I think I like your teacher better. :D

Troy, I think if we want to equate this technique with something done in cp, it's probably closer to the "scumbling" technique that Ann Kullberg does than what Maggie does with circulism. I don't know if it really matters though where you first discovered it, because you adapted it to a different medium here. It's the Circling Troy technique. (well.. ok... maybe not) ;)

btw you should see the discussions we used to have in the cp forum about just what "burnishing" ment. Don't think cp people have any more answers about it all than anyone else. ;) :D

Karen Cardinal
10-30-2005, 08:25 PM
brigante, I love what you're doing with Arnie's portrait!
That was when he was still cool. ;)

Keep going with this one!
...and pass the bottle over please. :D

JayD
10-30-2005, 09:15 PM
Karen, lets name it the Armenian Troy Dance in honor of Eclipse and Troy.

Karen Cardinal
10-30-2005, 09:25 PM
Karen, lets name it the Armenian Troy Dance in honor of Eclipse and Troy.
Ohhhhh I like that!
All gather round for the Armenian Troy Dance! :D

Now this dance doesn't require any drums and funny costumes in the middle of the woods or... even worse... line dancing does it? :eek:

;) :D

JayD
10-30-2005, 09:56 PM
bone in your nose and a big iron cauldron!

By the way, I have been going through an enormous block where NOTHING seems to work--techniques or otherwise--I just scrapped my halloween attempt-I just cant seem to get excited about it...sigh.....

bsnowden
10-30-2005, 10:54 PM
bone in your nose and a big iron cauldron!

By the way, I have been going through an enormous block where NOTHING seems to work--techniques or otherwise--I just scrapped my halloween attempt-I just cant seem to get excited about it...sigh.....
Take heart. We all have those kind of days. For inspiration. I recommend a heavy dose of scary movies. :wink2:

JayD
10-30-2005, 11:12 PM
already on it--Whispering Corridons, A tale of two sisterrs, Dark Water--all subtitled and spooky!

Karen Cardinal
10-30-2005, 11:20 PM
bone in your nose and a big iron cauldron!

By the way, I have been going through an enormous block where NOTHING seems to work--techniques or otherwise--I just scrapped my halloween attempt-I just cant seem to get excited about it...sigh.....
Hmmmm... big iron cauldron cool... bone in my nose... only if it's the clip-on kind. ;)

I get the big artist blocks all the time. It usually happens to me when I KNOW I have to draw something for a specific purpose (cards, presents, logos and ads are horrible for me). :rolleyes:

For me the easiest way to break out of it is to grab a bunch of colored pencils of as many different colors as I can fit in one hand, turn on the tv and start scribbling in the sketchpad in my lap without looking at it. After about an hour and quite a few pages of scribbles I will look at what I've done and 99 times out of 100 I can find something that will give me an idea for a drawing. It's basically the Rorschach test... you will see whatever is in your subconcience mind... but it's relaxing and sometimes quite interesting to see what kind of scribbles I've made when I'm not "trying" to draw anything and not looking at my paper or pencils. :D

SparrowHawk7
10-31-2005, 06:04 AM
Tim - nice drawing ... sure looks gubernatorial to me. Don't think I'd mess with California ... even if I were Texas. :cool:

As for the competition thingy .. the way I see it, we're only really in competition with ourselves. Even if I were technically equal to ,say, Armin in applying graphite, his drawings would still be different from mine so there is no need for me then to compete with him or anybody else. It is always my hope that each drawing I do be an improvement over the one before. And however it turns out, at the very least I will have learned more which is always worthwhile.

For what it's worth, my personal version of circularism works best with rather dull graphite. As a matter of fact, much of my skin was done with the pencil at about 60* and circling mostly on it's side. I save the really sharp points for the hair and where lines were required - though some of them even worked out better with a somewhat rounded tip. But that could just be me. I don't know if I would say there is a right and a wrong way to do this quite honestly ... the end result is really what counts. Everybody has a different touch so what works for one may not work for another. Just my $.02

Ken

Fireman's kid
10-31-2005, 10:41 AM
Man I miss a couple of days here and fall so far behind. :rolleyes:

Troy, didn't get a chance to read this yet but will definitely come back to it. I need all the help with portraits that I can get.

By the way, did I tell you that the week of the 101 portrait class I will be on vacation? Just tell me when it is so I can book a plane to somewhere. :evil: :wave:

Troy Rochford
10-31-2005, 02:01 PM
Karen - you asked brigante to pass the bottle but i dont think you need it! lol. In your post addressed to me on the previous page you pointed out something to me - but it happened to be the same thing I said in my previous post. Silly rabbit. Rough night last night?!! ;)

And what do you mean Arnold "used to be cool."?? Don't go all raging peacemonkey on me now!! ;)

JayD
10-31-2005, 02:45 PM
Now, Troy--dont you know that the Republican Party is where aging thespians go to die?

brigante
10-31-2005, 06:25 PM
evening, well it is here,
Like to throw in a couple of things. First.........Thanks Troy, would be obliged if you posted image of Arnie.......pictures save many words and explanations.

Used a mechanical pencil and circled vertically, for what its worth, but discovered the paper took up the graphite at different rates or the quality of the lead varied or more likely my pressure varied.

Ken, I believe that you are right, we are in competition with ourselves, because we all have different styles/methods /conditions and of course abilities; but we all strive to improve. Maybe one day I will produce something that I will be perfectly happy with...or is that the time to take up sunbathing.

Question.....how big are the "circles", what about ellipses, french polish eights or is the main thought just to produce a random pattern with associated myriad reflections?

BTW have run out of JD and resorted to the home stuff to kill the bugs. Forgive my brand of humour and sometimes slow grasp....thanks...................tim

Troy Rochford
10-31-2005, 07:13 PM
Tim I'm glad you joined in the fray here! I'll see if I can hunt down Arn in a moment. As for your question, with my particular method your final option listed above is closest to the correct answer... the object being to eliminate directional line and so forth and create random texture while maintaining a fairly even tonality. In the later layers, I will make more of an effort to create actual circles with pencil strokes, and those would be very small.

Ahhh... how's this for fast service!!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Oct-2005/38425-ARNOLD_T2.jpg

Judi1957
10-31-2005, 07:17 PM
Well-I think this thread needs rated for Troy!

Troy - That is fabulous! Wow all over!!, the leather is especially awesome! How many hours did you clock on this out of curiousity?

Mary Woodul
10-31-2005, 08:33 PM
Wow Troy, I can't believe what you achieved with the leather. Are you going to teach us some of this? :)

Mary Woodul
10-31-2005, 08:41 PM
Sorry Troy, i guess that was a stupid question because you are with this thread but what i meant is, are we goint to go into it more?

aprilart
10-31-2005, 09:09 PM
Troy, thank you for sharing this thread with all of us, even if it is only a "preview" into the portrait class you are preparing! I'm really looking forward to seeing that. :) And your Arnold is fantastic! Wow, you are such an amazing artist! (As if we didn't know that already! LOL!)

Thank you for putting the time into putting this article together, and thank you for posting it. :)

Alison2
11-01-2005, 03:42 PM
Troy,

I've been away for a few days and have come back to find this fantastic tutorial! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Thank you so much for sharing it with us. All I've got to do now is have a go...gulp :eek:

Big round of applause though for giving your time to put it together and share it....you are very genrous. May your days be long and happy and your circles ever...well, circular really I suppose! :p

Alison :wave:

Smitty7
11-02-2005, 01:47 AM
Troy, thanks for sharing all of your knowledge on this, both here and through the PMs. Despite my silence on this thread up to now, it is highly appreciated by us "young bucks", as are the additional comments by the other gurus visiting this thread. I am looking forward to starting one of my own attempts at this technique, but waiting for some Stonehenge paper I ordered (Strathmore Drawing pad isn't working for me on this project - too rough). I'm also waiting for reality to stop getting in the way of my art - not a good excuse, but it will have to do for now. I should have plenty of time to draw over the holidays and I am looking forward to applying some/all of these techniques as well as developing my own twist or style on what I will be learning. I'll be sure to post a WIP thread so everyone can share my success or failure. Thanks again, Troy, and for everyone else who has chimed in. I will be over hear acting like a sponge for now.

DGS

Troy Rochford
11-02-2005, 03:38 AM
Thanks for the kind words everyone. I do hope that you find this thread useful. I know it would be better if I had a step-by-step demo included, but that will come when I do the actual class on portraiture. I'm working on something little by little as we speak...

IslanderNL
11-02-2005, 07:04 AM
What an excellent base of knowledge you are Troy! Thank you.

I'll be signing on to that portrait class as soon as you're ready. Meanwhile I'll be practicing circularism.

brigante
11-02-2005, 10:34 AM
Thanks for posting Arni, Troy. Much appreciated and gives me a level to work towards. My main problem is of course trying to go too fast and producing stretched out springs. Must remember to rush slowly. My thanks again for starting this thread and sharing wisdom.
Now where is everybody else. The sublime and ridiculous have shown.
Again much thanks Troy.
tim

Mary Woodul
11-02-2005, 05:01 PM
Let's not forget to rate this thread please. It is a good one! :)

Foil
11-02-2005, 09:05 PM
I'm trying this technique for the first time but I'm having some trouble. You say you use only a 2B and you seem to get full deep blacks. I'm using a 2B as well and as I add more layers to get closer to black, I never seem to reach a deep black, only a shiny grey. What am I doing wrong?

Troy Rochford
11-03-2005, 09:03 AM
Foil - what kind of pencil are you using? If it's a wooden pencil you may not be able to get the results I mentioned. You also are likely working with too dull a point. I get my blacks with mechanical pencil at about a 45 degree angle to the paper, so that I'm drawing on the "sharp" edge of the cylindrical lead. To get blacks, work in very very tight circles, and it's best to do this in 2 or 3 layers rather than using too much pressure and trying to do it in one layer. The more layers you use, the less glare you will have. If you play your cards right, you will have almost zero glare, even in large black areas.

SILKNSATIN
11-03-2005, 09:53 AM
Very good troy. :clap:

Foil
11-03-2005, 09:57 AM
I'm using a Rotring mechanical pencil but it's not the kind with the very thin leads. This one has the thicker leads so maybe that's the problem. Is paper a big factor? I'm doing this in a Strathmore sketchbook.

SparrowHawk7
11-03-2005, 01:53 PM
Foil - I'll pop in here for a moment. I did one recently using 2mm "leads" in holders so my experience shows it's not really the size of the graphite. Paper DOES make a huge difference however. I did my first attempt on Bristol Smooth which was NOT the paper for me with this technique. Others may have different results but when I tried Stonehenge it was a night and day difference. I started out some months ago on Strathmore 400 series pads. I liked them for blending (all I knew back then) but there were several negatives with them. First of all, it's not really white .. it's more yellowish off white. Secondly, it's not heavy enough for my taste (80# I think). I tried some 300# paper (some of which I like a lot) but the 140# paper is plenty for this method. Just be sure it's pretty smooth and go slow, putting down LOTS of layers.

Ken

Troy Rochford
11-03-2005, 03:06 PM
Foil - I agree with Ken that for the most part, the size of the lead isn't going to make much of a difference in your results tonally. Lead density is different with mechanical pencils and superior to wooden, so you're on the right track there. Now, as for surface, that is really a matter of personal preference, but I personally would not waste time trying to do any serious work on sketch paper. I've gotten lazy in recent months and have pretty much used stonehenge for everything in dry media with portraiture, but when I'm not being lazy, I generally tend to use stonehenge or arches for adult males, old people and anyone who may for whatever other reason involve a lot of texture, and I'll use hot press illustration board for women, children, people seen at a distance, and any portrait subject which has an overall smoother texture or de-emphasized texture. I would consider bristol smooth a good paper for this also, but I personally don't use it a lot because I work very large and the bristol around here maxes out at about 11x14".

Speaking of bristol smooth, here's a treat (or an act of cruelty, depending on your opinion of the work!;)) just to show you guys that I don't just talk about these things, but I DO them!! I do a lot of ink commissions, and it just so happens that my graphite commissions lately have been oddball things, and it's really been a while since I seriously tried my hand at photorealism or whatever you want to call it. So... for practice the other day I got out a sheet of bristol smooth and started working on a cropped version of a large portrait of a friend of mine that I'll be doing soon. Since this was a practice run, I have little or no patience for correcting mistakes on this, and I've made quite a few! So this is pretty much done. But for better or worse, here's a partial-partial portrait using this circular technique on bristol smooth. The rendered area is about 4x6 inches, about 8 hours of work.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/03-Nov-2005/38425-look6.jpg

Karen Cardinal
11-03-2005, 04:15 PM
Troy that is one gorgeous eye! ;)

Seriously, I do love the smoothness and depth you have in just this partial-partial portrait! I simply can't wait to see the full piece! :D

You one talented man! :clap:

Troy Rochford
11-03-2005, 05:19 PM
Karen = glad you like it! That's James Hetfield from Metallica. The final portrait is going to be awesome!;)

bsnowden
11-03-2005, 05:26 PM
Yay! :clap: :clap: :clap: This thread keeps getting better and better!

Karen Cardinal
11-03-2005, 05:28 PM
Karen = glad you like it! That's James Hetfield from Metallica. The final portrait is going to be awesome!;)
:p
Much prettier than my first guess. ;)

Troy Rochford
11-03-2005, 06:08 PM
:p
Much prettier than my first guess. ;)

OH be quiet! And check messages and follow instructions.

frida
11-03-2005, 08:50 PM
Thank you so much for this thread Troy. It's terrific!!! :clap:
Just the kind of information I have been looking for...!

There is a botanical artist in Toronto who uses .3 mechanical pencils and small circles. Her work is wonderful...

danna23
11-03-2005, 08:51 PM
Hey everyone after following the John Lennon thread I ordered my mechanical pencils and leads (2B,4B,2H,4H) through www.misterart.com. They arrived within 5 days.

Great technique, thanks for the posts.
Danna