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Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:17 AM
Basic 101: Class 33 – Advanced Realistic Portraiture
Part One: The Male Subject

Well the suspense is over! Welcome to the latest installment in my series of cruel exercises to be perpetuated upon the masses!;) I am not quite heartless, though, so I can assure you that I will make this as pain-free as possible!

On a serious note, I’d like to begin by apologizing for subjecting you to MY teachings in this area of study, as I hardly feel qualified. You have my every assurance that I will nonetheless do my best to ensure that each of you benefits in some way from the methods of my madness, and I look forward to seeing you develop a bit of your own special madness in this class. My overall vision for this class is that each of you applies what I teach, along with your own talents and powers of logic and reason, and creates a piece of art far better than you previously thought yourself capable. That’s setting the bar pretty high, right? Well, let’s just see about that. I am supremely confident that each of you will accomplish this goal. I am not teaching a magic formula for portraits here, but I think that this lesson will open your eyes and help you to see and consider things that you have not consciously applied in the past. You will see that doing a realistic human portrait is really not so intimidating after all. You just have to take it one step at a time and be prepared to pat yourself on the back at the finish line. I think some of you will be astounded at the works that you produce in this class, and I can’t wait to see them!

Now, perhaps if not for pesky schedule demands and the like, I could have recruited a certain fairly decent portrait artist with the initials A.M. to host this class, but reality is what it is, so you’re stuck with me! You’ll be happy to know, however, that it’s not a TOTAL loss; while I thought it inappropriate to impose upon Armin by asking him to conduct this class, I did manage to capture the elusive creature himself and bring him along with me!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Armin Mersmann:


In this class we will cover many different aspects of realistic portraiture, from practical application to philosophy. Some areas may be covered in greater depth than others, or omitted altogether, depending on their practical relevance to my specific demo. Rest assured, however, that important aspects that are NOT addressed in this particular class will likely be covered in the female lesson.

For instance, I’ve chosen not to address the issue of teeth in this particular lesson, for two reasons. First, they simply do not factor into my demo and in the interest of time it is not practical to address every single possible scenario in the written lesson. Second, because teeth are much more often a factor in female rather than male portraiture, and we’ve got to save SOMETHING for the female class, right?;)

That said, a major portion of this lesson will be my walking you through the sometimes horrifying but nearly always entertaining process of the creation of one of my own portraits. After deciding to divide this topic into two separate classes by portrait subject, I could think of no more appropriate model than Armin for my male demo, and I thank him for providing both reference photo and invaluable feedback throughout this little journey.

Before going onward, let’s take a moment to discuss a term that no doubt has brought many of you to this class.

A Few Million Words on Photo-Realism

This is a term that is often misused; a generic label applied to any piece of art exhibiting a high level of realism. I’m guilty of this myself, and frankly, if someone describes one of my works as “photo-realistic,” I take it as a compliment, because I understand that the essence of what they’re telling me is that I’ve achieved my goal of producing a highly realistic drawing.

On the other hand, were my work on the level of, say, Armin, I might be insulted by such a pronouncement. The reason that I mention this is because I think it is important that we recognize the distinction between photo-realism and true realism, and further that we remain conscious of this distinction as we work.

Taken literally, the term “photo-realistic” implies the presence of inherent flaws and shortcomings within a drawing. Naturally, if you consider it in these terms, it is easy to understand why some artists may cringe upon hearing their work described in this manner. There are two principal reasons for this, and both should be on your mind as you work, so as to avoid falling into certain traps that can render your work devoid of life, thus severing its connection to the viewer.

1. Because of their two-dimensionality, photographs are in fact flawed representations of reality. Phenomena such as flattening, edge distortion, and a host of other issues absolutely guarantee that no photograph is perfect, and thus can and should be viewed as a diminished form of the reality that it attempts to convey. As artists starting with a blank page, we have a distinct advantage over the photographer, in that every pencil mark that we produce represents a POSITIVE rather than negative progression. Photography cannot improve upon reality, making something “more real,” so by design it represents a negative progression AWAY from true reality. Conversely, a work of art created from NOTHING can only be positive in nature and progression. This is largely just a matter of mindset, of course, but an important one nonetheless. As artists we are not subject to the limitations of mechanical devices in conveying a sense of true reality; we create our OWN reality from the blank page, and we are in charge.

Why is this important? Because a trap to be avoided at all costs is to confine yourself to simply replicating the flawed reality contained within a photograph. Be conscious of the aforementioned shortcomings associated with photographic references, and use your knowledge and skill to manipulate the photo as you recreate it, in a way that no camera is capable. This is the central key to why artists such as Armin are in fact capable of producing work that EXCEEDS the realism of a photo. Clearly this is easier said than done, but if you remain cognizant of this principle as you work, you can only improve your results.

2. Be wary of placing too much emphasis on slavishly duplicating your reference
photo detail-for-detail. In most cases, unless you ARE of the artistic caliber of Armin, this is ultimately an exercise in futility and only leads to unnecessary frustration. More importantly, engaging in this practice necessarily removes any and all spontaneity from the drawing process, which in turn negatively impacts your final result no matter what your level of technical proficiency may be. More than perhaps any other, this fact is the genesis of the not uncommon negative attitude held by some toward the very concept of “photo-realism.” After all, even if you are technically capable of reproducing your reference photo down to the most minute detail, what are you then saying with your work that has not already been conveyed by the photo itself? NOTHING. By removing the element of spontaneity from the process, you can only hope in the BEST of circumstances to produce a static, lifeless carbon copy of a photographic image. And that, my friends, is just mmmmmmmmadness!!!

This issue confuses many artists, because they wonder, logically, where the dividing line lies between copying a static “reality” and CREATING a new one. The answer to that question is a personal one that must come from within the individual artist, but I can comment on my personal approach. When I set out to create a work of art based upon a photographic reference, the first thing I do is take time to study and consider every single detail within the photo and determine which elements I consider to be important to the overall message that I want to convey. I might consider a particular shadow or highlight of paramount importance, or I might choose to eliminate it altogether. As I work, I constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the relationship between my drawing and the reference, and make adjustments as I see fit. It’s not uncommon for me to eliminate certain details from my drawing, only to backtrack later on in the process and add them back in. Or vice versa. As stated, my evaluative process is ongoing, and my opinion as to the relative importance of certain elements is always subject to change.

In fact, it is not unheard of for me to make wholesale changes that result in a finished product that differs dramatically from the reference, whether in terms of tonality, atmosphere, or any number of other considerations. Think of a reference photo as a buffet of sorts. You are the artist and you set the rules. You pick and choose which things you want on your plate, and leave the rest behind. Then play with your food as you deem necessary!

Essentially, my personal approach vis-à-vis portraiture is to copy only what I consider the critical elements necessary to achieve a proper likeness. Beyond that, while I typically tend to remain faithful to the reference in a broad sense (such as replicating the major light/shadow patterns, provided that I’m satisfied with the photographic representation thereof), I will often draw for hours on end without once looking at the reference. I just use logic and common sense to create or minimize detail as I prefer.

I’m certainly no authority on photo-realism, but the above is my philosophy on the matter. Ultimately, as with any artistic endeavor, you will need to experiment and decide for yourself what works best for you. The important thing to remember is that your art is your creation, and as artists you should always strive to go beyond the photo and create your own personal reality. The finest art is a dialogue between the artist and viewer, and it therefore follows that the artist’s own personality, vision, and soul should shine through in his interpretation of the subject. If you take nothing else away from this, remember that it is YOU, not the two-dimensional photograph, who is in charge of the reality that you create, and the story that you tell through your work.

Thoughts on Circulism

It should be noted that while the main technique featured in my lesson is what will be referred to for simplicity’s sake as “circulism,” it is not the “required” technique for your own submissions. The core principles of realistic drawing are not specific to any one method of applying tone, so you are free and encouraged to use whatever method suits you best.

For those interested in specifically learning about circulism as a means of creating realistic textures, hopefully you will gain a better understanding of the technique as this lesson unfolds. It is important to consider, however, that there are many different approaches to this technique, and mine may or may not work for you. Additionally, bear in mind that my own technique not only constantly evolves but also tends to vary substantially from piece to piece, depending on a multitude of factors. As you become more familiar and comfortable with the technique, you will no doubt come to appreciate the usefulness and necessity of variety in practical application.

All of that said, at its core, the technique remains fairly constant. It is, after all, simply drawing circles at its most fundamental level. This brings to mind an issue that has been touched on previously by myself and others: CONTEXT. Circulism is by no means a method that is only useful for depicting skin tones. In the right context, it can be used to portray any number of different materials or textures, or even used in the abstract as either a generic background or a means of optically separating adjacent similar values.

For those interested in seeing this point illustrated in practice, you can take a look at my recent Thrill of Victory WIP.


In that drawing, I used circulism for the dog’s scarf, the dog’s tongue, the asphalt under the dog’s feet, and the generic “sky” behind the dog. Now, we all know that these items generally bear little or no resemblance to one another in art or reality, but when viewed in the proper context and alongside the appropriate visual clues in my drawing, each of these is effective and believable. (* I must admit, though, that I think I missed the mark on “asphalt” because of the way that I isolated the dog in the composition. However, I am confident that had I included a proper visual clue such as a roadside curb, the message of “asphalt” would have been correctly sent to the viewer.) The important thing here is to realize that by learning circulism you are actually adding a pretty versatile tool to your proverbial belt. It is not to be viewed as a single-purpose application, only to be employed when called upon to render human skin.

For the benefit of those completely unfamiliar with the mechanics of circulism, I would encourage you to take a look at the following thread. It’s not necessary to read through the whole thing – just read my initial post. There you will find a thorough explanation of how to physically go about the business of applying graphite using this method. I’d planned on posting a close-up demo of the technique here as well, but I think that’s going to have to wait until the female class due to my computer issues. I should have a brand new computer by then, so we’ll be in good shape!J


Okay, let’s move forward to the next in our checklist of preliminaries…


Prior to this class, I posted a list of recommended materials. Let’s quickly address some key materials and their functions to clear up any lingering questions, confusion, hostility, suicidal depression, etc…

Pencils- While I’ve left it up to you to decide what type of pencils to use for this project, I would recommend using a .5mm mechanical pencil with a 2b lead as your primary instrument. The reasons for this are as follows:

1. Because of the higher density of mechanical pencil leads, you can produce an extraordinarily wide range of values with the same pencil simply be varying your applied pressure. This simplifies the process and reduces the interruptions associated with rummaging through a whole assortment of different pencils for different tasks.
2. Mechanical pencils do not need sharpening, and their nature allows for the constant availability of a broad, flat tip and a crisp, sharp edge at the same time. A simple turn of the pencil in your hand enables you to apply either broad, soft tones or razor sharp fine lines and details.

Papers- There are as many papers and paper types as there are artists, but certain types lend themselves better to realistic portraiture. For convenience, my recommendation for this class was Bristol smooth, as it is commonly found and a very good surface for this type of work. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but a good rule of thumb is that you will get best results from any hot pressed substrate that is durable, acid free, and has no distracting tooth pattern. If anyone is curious, my demo for this class was done on acid free Crescent Antique White mat board. This is the surface that Armin uses, and on his recommendation I decided to give it a try. I like it, but it is a bit tricky, and might not be practical for some due to cost, availability, and other considerations.

Blu Tack- This is superior to a standard kneadable eraser in all shared functions, and can be used to create an array of effects. Admittedly, I tend to rely more on my pencils than erasers to achieve my desired results, so I have neither the knowledge or expertise to speak at length about the many uses for this little tool, but I still consider it an invaluable asset even if only used primarily to lift excess graphite.

Click Eraser- This can be used to create very fine, precise lines and highlights, and is excellent for detail work because you can hold and control it like a pencil, and the end can be manipulated to create various types of edges.

Workable Fixative- This is useful in two instances. First, it serves as a finishing spray to preserve your final drawing and prevent smudging, etc… Second, in certain situations it can be applied to your drawing for the purpose of creating an artificial layer of extra tooth in order to apply more graphite. This is helpful if you find yourself having difficulty achieving sufficiently intense blacks.

Tracing Paper- Some were puzzled about my inclusion of tracing paper on the list of class materials. To be sure, if you do enough high detail portraits you will come to understand that tracing paper is your friend!!! There are two key uses for this aside from its obvious function.

1. Often when working on a portrait, or any type of drawing, you may find yourself in a jam. Maybe over the course of things you have lost part of your line drawing (this happens to me quite a bit, as I make my line drawing transfers EXTREMELY light and it takes very little effort to smudge them right off the paper!), or maybe you suddenly realize that you screwed up somewhere in your line drawing. Or maybe you decide to alter your line drawing altogether for a better visual impact. These things do happen, and sometimes we can’t see problems until we begin applying tone. Having tracing paper on hand allows you to save the surface of your drawing while you figure out how to solve your problem. Just place the tracing paper over your work and lightly re-draw the problem area. Once you get it right, slip a sheet of transfer paper between the tracing paper and your work surface, and transfer your corrected drawing. Presto!
2. Tracing paper is an invaluable tool for indenting, such as with fine hairs, whiskers, etc… Just as above, the principal benefit is that you can see through it, and can therefore be sure to make your indentations in precisely the correct places.

** A note about tortillons/stumps, etc…

While I have not “outlawed” the use of these tools in this class, I strongly discourage the practice. Tortillons and blending stumps can be used to great effect by some artists who know how to properly use them, but the reality is that most do NOT. Rather, they rely on these tools as a means of accomplishing that which they lack the technical proficiency to accomplish with a pencil. This mainly comes into play with respect to blending and achieving smooth, gradual tonal transitions. The trouble is, since these tools have no inherent magical properties, if you are incapable of achieving gradual tonal transitions with a pencil, you are kidding yourself if you think you’re effectively doing so with a tortillon or stump. More often than not, the use of these tools results in three things, any one of which would be problematic even in the absence of the other two:

1. Flattened tooth – Smashing down the tooth of your work surface inhibits the paper’s ability to accept subsequent layers of graphite. This is a sure-fire way to completely ruin a drawing if you blend too early or too aggressively.
2. Severely reduced contrast – Used improperly, all that these tools do is smear your darks, redistributing the surface graphite into your lighter areas. As this happens, your darks become lighter as graphite is removed. This results in a completely flat tonality, turning virtually everything into the same muddy midtone value.
3. Complete obliteration of texture – This is the most common problem that I see even in supposedly “good” portrait art. Even if you manage, by layering and blending and layering and blending and blind luck, to come up with a passable range of values, your work is not going to look truly realistic if it is completely devoid of any discernable texture. Unless your portrait subject has no pores and no skin blemishes, the texture-free approach is only going to make you look like an airbrush artist in my opinion. Now I’ve seen some impressive illustrative works that have a decent range of values and a reasonable degree of depth while lacking in texture, but they are just that – ILLUSTRATIONS. This is a class on REALISM!

If you insist on using these tools, I would urge you to at least be cognizant of their potential problems as outlined above, and proceed with extreme caution! Ideally, what I would like to see is for you to put these tools aside, even if only for this class, and try to train yourself to achieve your values and subtle tonal transitions using only your pencil. Nothing but good things can come of such an effort.

Continued next post...

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:26 AM
The Essential Principles of Realistic Drawing

Before we get to the fun part, I do want to outline for you the things that I feel are critical to the success of any attempt at realism. Simply making a conscious effort to address each of these factors in your work is sure to have immediate and positive results.

1. START WITH AN ACCURATE LINE DRAWING – Some artists de-emphasize the importance of this stage in the drawing process, and I could not possibly disagree more with this mentality. Let’s face it; very few artists, regardless of skill level, are truly capable of producing a better or even EQUAL finished piece by developing their line drawing “on the fly” as opposed to taking the time to perfect it in advance. The very idea of such a thing flies in the face of logic and common sense, and I would strongly advise against adopting this sort of cavalier attitude toward such an important aspect of the overall process. As I’ve said before, if your line drawing is skewed as a result of putting forth minimal effort, then no amount of tonal wizardry is going to overcome that. Creating a truly realistic portrait involves hours upon hours of work; if it is immediate gratification you’re after, and you are too lazy or impatient to invest the time and effort into producing an accurate preliminary line drawing, then perhaps you’d be happier pursuing something on the level of fingerpainting! Remember that your line drawing is the foundation on which your finished piece is to be built. This is NO time for looseness or spontaneity. That comes later. Would you hire a contractor to build your home if he “eyeballed” everything and could have the foundation laid and walls erected in a single afternoon?
2. VALUES and CONTRAST- If your goal is to convey a true sense of reality in your work, it is imperative that you incorporate a full range of values- from pure white to full black. It is also important to understand that in truly realistic portraiture, there should be absolutely no areas of human skin that are represented by the pure white of your drawing surface. Even highlights in skin should have tone. Reserve the white of your paper for specular highlights in eyes, teeth, and in some rare instances generally found in female portraiture, lips. Though there are many different skill levels represented in this class, I would recommend that each of you take the time to review the following lesson on the basics of tone, light and shadow, etc. before starting on your portrait.


Now, there has been much discussion lately on the issue of achieving full blacks with graphite, and particularly doing so while minimizing the glare that is often a nasty side effect of the medium. There are a variety of methods, but only two that have any real merit in my opinion.

1. Drawing on the sharp, straight edge of a mechanical pencil lead, apply the graphite in extremely small, tight circles – similar to making an exaggerated “period” at the end of a sentence. The pressure and number of layers required tends to vary depending on substrate, but generally speaking the process should entail about 3-5 layers, with a gradual increase in pressure from moderately light to fairly heavy. It is VERY IMPORTANT when using this method that you remain aware at all times of your lead position; make sure you are drawing with the sharp edge. If you allow yourself to apply the graphite with the broad, flat side, a slick layer will quickly form, resulting in unwanted glare as well as making it extremely difficult to apply enough subsequent layers of graphite to even get to full black.
2. Graphite can be applied in basically the same manner as above, but with heavier pressure and fewer layers. The trick here is to LIGHTLY blend after each layer to even out the tone while lightening the value as little as possible. Personally I rarely bother with this method, and if I do it is generally only for large areas of flat tone such as dark backgrounds. It is effective though, and some artists, such as Matti Kataja, use this method almost exclusively and produce fantastic results.

With both of the above methods, you will get some degree of glare, owing to the inherent reflective properties of the medium. If done correctly, however, the glare will be minimal, and should all but disappear once you fix your drawing with a matte spray.

A final note on glare-free blacks with graphite: I know of no particularly effective means of accomplishing this with wooden pencils.

3. FOCUS - This is a very simple concept that requires very little in the way of specialized skill, yet interestingly is one that is often completely overlooked in the drawing process. A crucial element in any realistic drawing is the illusion of three- dimensionality. As artists you can create or heighten this illusion by manipulating the optical focus of your drawing, sometimes even exaggerating variations beyond what would normally be evident in reality.

What on earth am I talking about? Well, in short, remember that contrast is not just about tone, color, or texture. We also have contrast in focus in our arsenal, and many of us don’t use it. In fact, I have to admit that until I sat down to write this lesson, I had become lazy about this issue in my own work without even realizing it. That stops now!

The concept of using focus to dictate how the viewer reads the work presented is one that is commonly used in photography. Often we see photos with outrageously exaggerated contrasts in focus; these contrasts are used to great effect to not only direct the viewer’s attention to what the photographer wants him to see, but also to make the subject appear as if emerging from the picture plane TOWARD the viewer. Bear this in mind as you draw, and use it to your advantage. Remember that the forward-most objects in your composition should be rendered in sharper focus than background subjects. Taken a step further, the forward-most planes within each object should follow the same rule.

To use a simple example, if you are rendering a portrait of a person, seen from a straight-ahead view, the nose of the person should be in sharper focus than, say, the ears. Why? Because the nose would be much closer to the viewer under these circumstances in a true three-dimensional setting.

The two most common means of manipulating focus within a drawing are the use of CRISP VS. BLURRED EDGES (crisp does NOT mean outlined!), and HIGH VS. LOW TONAL CONTRAST. Just be careful not to overdo it and cross over into the surreal. Practically speaking, though the nose in the above example should be in sharper focus than the ears, there should not be a disparity of Grand Canyon proportions between the two!

4. TEXTURE – Texture is of course one of the main reasons for the existence of this particular class on portraits. The importance of texture in skin tones is subjective, but in my opinion the correct tonality is only half the battle if your ultimate goal is true realism. I know artists whose understanding of tonality is such that they can produce very realistic works, only to have the illusion fall flat upon close inspection. Up close the magic is lost due to a complete absence of any real texture. Contrary to what I hear all too often from too many artists who should know better, even the smooth skin of a baby has texture. Surely no one would dispute that in reality, so why would you think it appropriate to render a portrait of a baby with absolutely no skin texture. If you are drawing Plastic Man’s baby, then I suppose that is acceptable, but actually I don’t believe Plastic Man has any children. Hell, he’s not even MARRIED!

This principle is why the evolution of my own process has brought me to the point where I rarely, if ever, blend the skin tones of ANY portrait subject. The question that plagues a lot of artists is, “How do I create believable skin without the final result being unnaturally rough, sloppy, or surrealistic?” In the absence of a solution, many artists simply choose to avoid the issue and blend away, relying on tonality to do all of the work for them. This is where circulism pays huge dividends. The simple mechanics involved with the technique result in “accidental” texture that tends to mimic that of skin. This can be either exaggerated or diminished to best suit your subject or other conditions, and with patience and practice can be used to create some very dramatic realistic art. The principal benefit of this method is that there is a natural randomness and spontaneity that appears in your rendered skin tones that not only reflects the same inherent qualities in actual skin, but would be nearly impossible to replicate in any believable sense with a more deliberate, conscious effort to “draw skin.” While I don’t reject other methods out of hand, it is for this reason that I believe circulism to be the superior method for this subject matter.

Continued next post...

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:41 AM
Final Preparations

Before starting on your portrait, I would suggest that each of you take a spare sheet of EXACTLY THE SAME SUBSTRATE that will be used for your final portrait, and create a value scale using whatever stroke technique you will be using for the majority of your skin tones. Think of it as drawing a rectangular strip of skin that spans the full range of values (excepting, of course, pure white) from left to right. Going through this process will help you work out the mechanics of creating a believable skin texture as well as providing you with a “real” (as opposed to computer generated, etc.) value scale to use as a key throughout your drawing process. This is why it is important that you do this on the same type of surface that you will be using for your final project. I would also recommend that you use this separate sheet as a hand guard as you draw. That way you protect your portrait surface from smudging, and you have your skin tone value scale right in front of you at all times.

** If you are using multiple pencils to create your value scale, be sure to make notations along your scale, indicating which pencils were used to create which values, etc…

The next thing you might want to do is take some time to map out your critical values on a separate grayscale printout of your reference. Using your own handmade value scale as the master, match the critical values in your reference to the corresponding values along your scale, and make notations directly on your reference printout. For example, if your value scale consists of ten values, numbered 1-10, find the areas on your reference that match your near-black #8 on your scale, and write a little “8” in those areas on your reference. Make all the paint-by-numbers jokes you want! Trust me, it’s easier than you might think to get lost in the details and start rendering the wrong values when you’ve been staring at a complex b/w drawing for hours on end! Moreover, going through this exercise forces you to see clearly the complex tonal arrangements in your reference that your brain might otherwise oversimplify. In other words, you’re tricking your brain into observing details that it does not want to process. It works.

And now we move on to the portrait demo, and it’s almost time to draw!!!

This is the part where you will see that if ever the addage "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" applied, it certainly does in the case of my work. This is not false humility on my part; there is a lesson to be learned here. Many of you hold my work in high regard, and I appreciate that. However, I truly hope that as you look through my demo portrait of Armin, you come to understand that there is really nothing special about my work at all. When you see it broken down into manageable parts, my sincere hope is that you find yourself saying, "Well I could do THAT!" Because you can.

Owing to the length of this class, I've decided that rather than explain each and every step in great detail, I will merely post them and let you see how it came together. I will answer any questions that you have about any stage along the way. For a general overview, here's the rundown -

Materials used -

Crescent matboard
Alvin .5mm mechanical pencil 2b
Alvin .3mm mechanical pencil hb (used for fine crosshatching on eyeglass lenses, cast shadow on the moustache from the nose, and some parts here and there in the skin tones where I wanted a slicker apperance with less contrast, such as the part of the nose where the eyeglasses press against the skin, etc..)
Berol turquoise wooden pencil - f and 2h - these were used for the fingernails and whites of eyes for a slicker finish.

**I generally use carbon to render pupils but I did not do that with this demo since a lot of you don't use that yourselves.

The demo will consist of 14 pictures.. I'll have to break those up into 3 posts. Here are the first 5. Notice as you look through these that I do indeed constantly reevaluate things and change lighting conditions, add or subtract details, change facial expression, etc...

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:47 AM
next five...

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:55 AM
lol by the way folks, sorry for the horrible image quality, particularly later in the wip. Some were taken in the middle of the night in poor light, and due to my computer issues, I couldnt download them to check them until today.:(

I'll also take a daylight pic of the final image tomorrow if I get time, as the one at the beginning of this lesson is not to hot either, for the reasons mentioned above.

This is the end of the WIP. Feel free to reply, draw, or whatever! Thanks, and I hope this lesson helps you guys a lot! I can't wait to see your results:)

01-30-2006, 01:34 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/67372-rseigla.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/67372-Ron-101.jpg
okay Troy. I have read what you have posted so far. 22 pages if I know numbers,( which are easy if they are posted above the print outs!!!:p !!!! I have a line drawing done, but I have changed the mouth because I didn't like the original; in photoshop on review it loooked terrrrrible!!!!! Now it looks more like him. Is it OK? To change it I mean.

01-30-2006, 01:40 AM
Troy, here is another great thing about Hawaii. I'm awake while everyone is sleeping and I get to post the first reply to your class. First, I must say that you have done some excellent writing. Surprising, I thought you lived in Georgia. Lol. This is going to be excellent. Thanks for taking the time to do this. It is obvious from the start that you have put a great deal of work into it, especially considering the state of your computer system right now. These classes are so appreciated by regular Joes like me around here.

Anyhow, I'm looking foward to posting something, but I think I might take some extra time to go over my line drawing again before I try to post it or add any tone. Question - do you always start with the eye? In my ref (and life) my irises are very dark (almost like my pupils at times) and I wonder if this is the right place to start on this one. Any thoughts?

01-30-2006, 01:41 AM
Darn, Brenda beat me to the punch with a simultaneous post! Oh well, I guess I'm not the only one who is up late with art on their mind.

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 01:54 AM
Brenda of course it is okay to change your line drawing or your reference - whichever you want to change. One thing though - there is a lot of rough blocking in of tones in your line drawing. Your line drawing should be just that - an outline. I would suggest refraining from any blocking in like that, becaues it will cause problems later with respect to applying graphite over it, and the fact that it looks rough and sketchy, which will be difficult to correct later if you've gone too dark.

Dave - glad youre still awake! In answer to your question, I don't always start with an eye, but 99 out of 100 times I will, because that is the most important part of the likeness in most cases. As long as I get one eye looking half way "right" (in terms of likeness only in the beginning), then I don't worry about the other one until I feel like it. BUT, I'm never ever comfortable with a portrait until I get at least ONE eye done.

01-30-2006, 02:14 AM
Hi ,
Being on the eastern side i have the advantage.I wont have to remain awake till late.But I got up at 5 in the morning to check this post and inf act the first one to check on this one.I viewed while troy was busy posting it.
Troy I dont think I will be able to put my thanks in words but I will try.THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKS
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
Here is my line drawing.
Today I think most of time will be spent on practising the technique and checking on how everybody is going to start on it.
Thanks again Troy
ALL THE BEST EVERYBODY(At least I need it-working slowly and patiently is not at all my strong point and that's when every thing starts going bad.

01-30-2006, 02:18 AM
Do you have any suggestions from where should I start first.

Robin Neudorfer
01-30-2006, 03:07 AM
Is that all Troy? It didn't even put me to sleep....;)

01-30-2006, 03:20 AM
Whew! Great in depth reading Troy. Only problem now is that I am even more nervous about doing this one than I was already. I'll hopefully make a start on this today.

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 03:28 AM
You know, Armin's gonna get his feelings hurt if no one comments on how good looking he is! Come on now.. my drawing can't be THAT lame!:(

Pal - I think you need to re-do your line drawing for starters. Take your time with it and make sure you get the features right. You should also use less pressure with your line drawing, because ultimately you don't want any of those lines to be visible in your finished work. It is only a guide for you as you add tone. See Alison's post above for an example of what you should strive for.

I would also recommend again that you do the grayscale that I mentioned in the lesson. That will take some time, so I KNOW that none of you have done that yet.

01-30-2006, 05:00 AM
Well Armin sure looks great and your text was really informative :clap: :clap: , but I haven't seen the refphoto (or did you post it in the right thread ) :confused:
Sorry I haven't done the greyscale yet. My impatience drew me to start drawing right away and now its telling me to move on to the next eye and the nose very quickly (normally my portrait would have been nearly finished now after almost one hour. :)


Anita Murphy
01-30-2006, 05:05 AM
Troy - thank you for a superb write up! Thank you so much for your time a dedication!
And what a fantastic drawing - the eyebrows and moustache, the detail in the eyes! Gobsmacked!
Armin - wow, if I had only known what a yummy fella you are!

01-30-2006, 05:38 AM
I am typing this tiny little bit of text out in Word and then posting it, as I am sick of WC suddenly disappearing when I am mid-post.:mad:

I’ve drawn, scanned and looked at my greyscale and I’m not sure if my second darkest isn’t dark enough. The contrast between dark one and two isn’t as obvious in rl as it is on the scan. Having now studied the ref photo, I can see how little white there is, as there is only one tiny little dot of white on one of the teeth; all the other highlights have very light grey in them.

Rather than writing on my drawing, I’ve studied the ref and written what-goes-where on the greyscale, I hope that is ok Troy?

As far as Armin and how good looking he is goes; I knew by reading his posts and looking at his work what an attractive man he is. But your rendering of him is pretty fantastic Troy.:D

01-30-2006, 06:37 AM
Great writeup Troy! I've got some Strathmore 500 Bristol plate coming today which I will try for this since there is a lot of detail in homeless Mike. Hopefully I'll have the line drawing done by the weekend when I have my real drawing time.

You spoke of noting tonal values on the printout of the ref. One suggestion I can make for people with Photoshop is this. If you posterize your initial grayscale image you can easily see where various tonal areas are located. Matti K talks about this in his book and it really does help. With PS7, bring up your image and change mode to grayscale if it isn't already. Then click on Image/adjustments/posterize. There you can set the number of tones you wish to see. I'm sure this feature is available in earlier versions though I don't know for certain just how to get to it.


[Edit] - I also find it very helpful to use Photoshop as I go along. Make a new image and put your reference photo next to your drawing, flatten the image and look at it. Side by side at the same scale causes me to more easily see where I have gone astray.

[Edit2] - would it be possible to put your intro into a pdf format? That way people could download it, print it out or have it more readily available for reference as we go. I could do it if there is any interest.

01-30-2006, 06:44 AM
Troy-You be the Man!:D :clap: :clap: :clap: You are an awesome writer, as well as artist.

I am almost done with my line drawing-75% anyway and should be done w/ that tonight. My crescent board was to be here Saturday but apparently from an e-mail I got it was just shipped from the factory Saturday.:( Hopefully it will be here tomorrow so I can start.

Thanks for the posterize info Ken. Will certainly give it a try.:)

01-30-2006, 06:46 AM
Troy, your drawing has more "life" than the photo - an excellent example of what you were trying to say. Armin, nice to see you.:wave:

Mary Woodul
01-30-2006, 07:06 AM
Troy, this is brilliant and your demo outstanding, as usual. Armin is "quite tempting";). From what I see now this class is going to be something that those of us that will be fortunate to take it will never forget. Thank you again for your generosity in giving us so much of your time and knowledge.:)

01-30-2006, 07:19 AM
Excellent write up on the class Troy :clap: The drawing of Armin is very well rendered. I only hope I can do half as well in mine.

As this is early MOnday morning and I don't have the correct paper with me, grayscale won't be done til tonight. After the greyscale should we just charge ahead and start drawing or is there a plan of action?

Good tip on using Photoshop for tones Ken. I'll try that. :)

Here's my reference again and my line drawing.



01-30-2006, 07:30 AM
Hi All,

Magical portrait of Armin, Troy. I just about lost my nerve when I saw the standard. Anyway I'm a real beginner (wouldn't have taken you long to work that out:o) so I will have a go and see how far I get.

Here's my line drawing. Haven't transfered it yet because I have to get better paper. I think I'm going to have trouble with subject's right eye it isn't well lit in the reference. Do I have enough detail in this line drawing?

Along with everyone else, I'm so excited about this class, Troy and grateful for the huge effort on your part.



01-30-2006, 07:37 AM
I've done two greyscales. The one on the right, to try your technique - not sure I have it right as I'm getting lines where rows of circles overlap. The second (and smaller) is straight crosshatching and now I look at the scan the last 5 values all look much the same:eek:. I thought I might try circles again but do them both horizonatally and vertically. What do you think. Apologies if this question is too basic - you probably expect everyone to have mastered greyscales by now.


01-30-2006, 08:08 AM
Thanks Troy, great article and drawing. When I saw the portrait of Armin I felt like running way. (edited: not because Armin is not a good looking fellow. Just because I hardly think I can accomplish near as good you did. Armin is indeed nice looking guy and you are great at this!!!) Hope just to do as good as 1/3th of yours. I will try hard to the better. :)

I dont have mechanical pencils. I have a set of graphite pencils from 4h to 4b. Which should I use? I have winsor and newton smooth surface cardtridge pad available to me at the moment, is that ok?

I will work on the outline today and the grey scale in 2b for practicing.

Thanks again for leading this class. :) :) :)

01-30-2006, 08:37 AM
Here is my line drawing. It is very, very light--drawn with a 4h pencil. I mapped out what I thought might be key areas such as high lights on the glasses.

Troy, I proably wont get to the grayscale until tonight.

OK, regarding the handsomeness of Armin Mersman--My dog, Bailey, thinks he is the cat's Meow!!

OH LET ME ADD: That is some superior writing, young man! Once of the best we have ever had.

01-30-2006, 09:12 AM
Hi everyone :wave:

Brilliant write-up Troy..... I didn't feel bored reading it at all :D And the portrait is even better!:clap: :clap:

Heres my line drawing.the paper looks grey in the pic though...don't know why.

I'll do the greyscale and post that later. This is going to be a super class!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/67003-DSCF10931.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/67003-DSCF11061.JPG

01-30-2006, 09:40 AM
Sorry Troy...Armin is very nice looking but your rendering of him is utterly fantastic!! (Didn't comment on it earlier :( )
I will re-do my line drawing as this is just a rough freehand sketch to try to get facial feature right before I start. I widened the cheeks and brought the chin up, do I need to make any other adjustments? I will do my greyscale at the same time I re-do this as a line drawing, OK? This is going to be a great class..your intro is very informative and easy to understand, not nearly as complicated as I had expected.
Sorry, Dave..too many years of nightshift messes with my sleep patterns sometimes. Besides I had been waiting ALL DAY for Troy to start posting last night so I couldn't sleep anyhow!!!:p

Cathie Jones
01-30-2006, 10:23 AM
Mornin' folks!

Here are my ref and line drawing:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/23460-DJ.ref.gray.sm.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/23460-Line_Drawing.012506.sm.jpg

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 10:29 AM
Hey guys - your line drawings are looking fantastic. I've got a million things going on today and tomorrow so I'm going to be a bit scarce, but you should have plenty to keep you busy anyway. A few observations:

Jay - I still don't like the idea of you doing your line drawing with such a hard grade pencil. I'm not telling you that you "can't" do that, but I just think it's counterproductive because that hard lead is sure to leave tell-tale traces of itself even if you use a light touch.

Bernice - lol thanks but how do you know if my rendering of armin has more life than that photo? I didn't post the reference! If you think I did, then that's an even bigger compliment!;)

Robyn- the problem that I see with your grayscales is that both of them have very distracting linear patterns that would not work very well in skin tones. Remember that part of the exercise with this is to create your grayscales as though you were rendering skin tones. It's not just the values that we're after, but the right texture as well.:)

Ken and everyone- while I agree that the posterize function is useful as a tool while you work, I do not want it used for the purpose of creating the grayscale because it is based on a computer approximation and oversimplification of tones. I want you guys to look at a printout of your actual reference photo and match your tones that way - otherwise you are going to confuse yourselves if you try to match them to a posterized version of your ref in photoshop. Also remember that this is not a required step in the process anyway, but rather a suggestion. However, if you do it, I think it would be better to compare your values to the actual reference rather than some altered photoshop version thereof.

01-30-2006, 10:36 AM
Not a problem troy--tell me what lead to use and I will redraw it. I redrew the Monet at least 14 times before I decided I liked the sketch--so redrawing it is not really a big deal. I am still working my way through your tome and by the way, after all of this is done if you dont write a book, I am going to come down to Dogpatch or wherever it is in Georgia and force feed you a bowl of Democratic Wheaties choc full of Teddy Kennedy Grahams. You got the stuff to do it!!!

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 10:48 AM
Jay use whatever youre comfortable with in the b range for better results. I'd think that would be easier on the eyes too. Usually my line drawings are with 2b like just about everything else I do lol.

Anita Murphy
01-30-2006, 10:49 AM
I am going to come down to Dogpatch or wherever it is in Georgia and force feed you a bowl of Democratic Wheaties choc full of Teddy Kennedy Grahams.

Give me a yell if you need a helping hand with this, Jay!

01-30-2006, 11:13 AM
Thanks for putting in all that work, Troy, both the writing and the drawing. Now I really must get my act together so I can join in...

01-30-2006, 11:14 AM
Troy...that was some good writing. Thank you for the time you have obviously put into for us :). First, I have to say, that rendering of Armin is awesome. Really the first time I have seen a close-up view of a human portrait of yours, and you deservse the credit you get bud. The details, the tone, the texture, the "life" in the rendering. Now lol, to the meat...how are you building the skin tone/texture? How many layers of circles? I see the white area in the first pic of the rendered forehead...and around it a "done" area with great texture, yet little tone (as it should be)...almost like "flecks" of darkness....any tips?? Do you go at the circles in a few directions to get rid of the "lines" where the circles overlap as your building?? (lol, leave it to me to hit you with lots of questions ;) )

01-30-2006, 11:16 AM
CJ - Many, many thanks for the PDF. My internet connection keeps dropping out - you've saved my sanity:)

Troy - Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll spend a couple of days getting greyscales right. Can anyone point me in the direction of a thread that might give me some mechanical tips?

Lovely line drawings happening :clap::clap:


01-30-2006, 11:16 AM
Troy...well...DUH!! I just printed out your "MS Found in My Computer" and I saw the materials and explanations. Forgive me--I have a feeling I may not be the brightest light bulb in this class. LOL!

Now, you heard Anita--she's comin down with me so you'd better get to writing!!!

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 11:21 AM
No Ray those aren't stupid questions, but my answers probably are stupid lol. Ken is the one who makes a point of applying circles from different directions and that kind of thing, and I think there's probably a lot to be said for that approach, but I'm more primitive in my own approach. Me point writey end of pencil toward paper and draw! I don't really think about getting rid of any patterns from circles overlapping or that kind of thing - it just happens on its own.

As for the white on the forehead in the early wip pics - I'm glad you brought that up because I want to make sure people understand what I'm doing there. In a lot of places in my portraits where I know the skin is going to be brightly highlighted, I will leave those areas totally white until the very last stages of the portrait. THEN I will go in and tone them in very lightly just so they aren't pure white. In the forehead example of my WIP here, you'll notice that I've toned that white area down in the end, and you'll also notice that the overall shape of the white area changes a few times throughout the process.

Mary Woodul
01-30-2006, 11:23 AM
Line drawing done and now I'll go read, Troy, with my pot of coffee.;)



Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 11:24 AM
CJ your line drawing looks good but a tad heavy handed in areas. Make sure you're using a light enough touch for those lines to disappear in your finished piece:)

01-30-2006, 11:33 AM
Great write-up, Troy. As others have already stated, you should write a book. Since I changed my reference photo yesterday, I do not have a line drawing yet. I will try to finish it tonight. I know you wanted us to have it done before class and I did do one of the other image, so I wasn't totally slacking.:wink2:


01-30-2006, 11:37 AM
[QUOTE=Troy Rochford]
Bernice - lol thanks but how do you know if my rendering of armin has more life than that photo? I didn't post the reference! If you think I did, then that's an even bigger compliment!;)

Ha! The joke's on me Troy! I thought post #1 was the reference. Had me fooled completely. You're amazing!:D

01-30-2006, 11:37 AM
You guys are too fast for me!!! :eek:

I am posting just to get in the loop. Now I will read Troy's write up... WOW! :wave: Thank you so much Troy for all this work and guidance. :D

Maybe it was said already, but where can I see Armin's portrait photo ref? It will help to see how you have translated it into graphite...

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 11:39 AM
Anne don't worry about it - particularly with my computer issues right now, I actually am glad that some of you are still working on line. Allows me to stall for time until the new computer comes in!

**** EVERYONE!!! Do me a favor - when you start applying tone to your drawings, please include in ALL of your posts (well, the ones that include artwork) the type of substrate you are using. It will be impossible for me to remember all of them, and I want to know when I'm looking at your work what surface you're drawing on, because that might affect the advice that I give you. You don't have to write a paragraph about it, just one key word will do. ("Bristol" for ex.)


Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 11:44 AM
Racquel I didn't post the reference and frankly I probably won't until I'm done with it (I'll be doing an uncropped WIP from the same reference in the D/S forum after I finish my female demo for the next class.) For what its worth though, I didn't stray too far from the reference in this, other than going for a darker atmosphere and a little more of an intense look in his eyes. A few here have seen the reference privately and can attest to that:)

01-30-2006, 12:16 PM
Troy - Still downloading and printing the PDF that CJ posted, but wanted to jump in and post my line drawing and tell you that the images in your lesson are truly awesome. If studing your technique allows me to produce something half that realistic I will be thrilled!!

Knowing better than to use my sketch book again,the outline is on a sheet of 14x17 vellum Bristol Board.:D using an HB pencil. I than enhanced it in PSP to make it visible.

JayD - I did skim the above posts and, since I live in Florida, am available to assist you in any way necessary with force feeding D'em D'ar TK grahams.

Joe aka Jim

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 12:43 PM
Thanks Troy, great article and drawing. When I saw the portrait of Armin I felt like running way. (edited: not because Armin is not a good looking fellow. Just because I hardly think I can accomplish near as good you did. Armin is indeed nice looking guy and you are great at this!!!) Hope just to do as good as 1/3th of yours. I will try hard to the better. :)

I dont have mechanical pencils. I have a set of graphite pencils from 4h to 4b. Which should I use? I have winsor and newton smooth surface cardtridge pad available to me at the moment, is that ok?

I will work on the outline today and the grey scale in 2b for practicing.

Thanks again for leading this class. :) :) :)

Hey Rose - I've not worked on that paper myself but from what I've heard about it I'd say you're in good shape there. On pencils, you can find a use for all of them, though anything harder than 2h is probably unnecessary. I would suggest that you do all of your initial layering-even the light tones- with pencils in the "b" range. You can go all the way to your 4b to get your blacks and all that. I would only use the h pencils for final finishing or to use in certain areas for a slick or shiny/waxy texture. In the general course of things, you want to keep those things away from your skin tones at least until the LATE stages of your drawing.

01-30-2006, 12:55 PM
Thanks for the reply Troy. And thanks Cathie for the pdf. Much appreciated too. :)

Cathie Jones
01-30-2006, 01:47 PM
How about a couple of visual aids for those of us who have no clue what to do with circulism? You know, like Dave did with the strokes used in the P&I demos. I'd like especially to see how you achieve the lighter values and bright highlights without little circles showing on the paper . . .

My line drawing was manipulated in PS so you could see it - - there really are no dark lines. :D

01-30-2006, 02:33 PM
Posting my value scale, ref image and rough drawing. Try as I may, I couldn't get my scanner to pick up the light lines in my transfer drawing. Even adjusting the settings didn't help. So you'll have to trust me on that one. It's light enough that I can barely see the lines. I'm working on Bristol smooth paper (9 x12) with a mechanical 2B pencil. The value scale is 0-10 layers with and extra layer on number 10 to get the black. Drawing done with a grid (didn't trust my drawing skills enough yet) and tracing done with graphite applied to back of sketch and traced on to the Bristol.

01-30-2006, 02:36 PM
Hi Troy

Very informative lesson, making me a bit nervous but also thinking that I could do this...just don't be to tough on this student:D . Love your work of Armin, very good detail...would I ever be able to do that is the question to oneself...well can only but try.

Here is my linedrawing of my dad, I filled the hair in the way that I always remember him wearing it, a bit fussy on the ref.

Will be slow on this one.


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/69011-dad.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/69011-Linedrawing.jpg

01-30-2006, 02:44 PM
I am printing after having read it all!!! Magnificent piece of work Troy! :clap: Lots to think about what attracted me to the ref in the first place, and what I want to convey with the portrait I will work on.

Would anyone here know why, when responding to an e-mail notification re: Post # 49 on this thread, it takes me (every time!) to page 1, Post #1? Should I ask any techie at WC!? No problem with any other threads across the board...

01-30-2006, 04:25 PM
Troy, I tip my hat to thee. Spectacular and encompassing write-up and demo. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

It will be real fun to see this class evolve and have the participants realise that, as you so expertedly wrote, that portraits are easier than they thought and, with your help, will be able to produce fantastic results.

May I offer one more little observation I made during my recents trials and errors? Make sure that you don't indent the lines in the line drawing too deeply. Depending on the paper you use, these lines may pop up too often and make for a cartoon vs a realism portrait. I made this mistake too often myself.

Troy Rochford
01-30-2006, 04:44 PM
Reinhard- thanks I've addressed that issue in the pre-class threads but it certainly is worth repeating. I should have included it again in this lesson too, come to think of it.:) (Jay- as I've told you before, this is also one of the reasons I suggested you NOT do your line drawing with a hard grade lead.)

CJ - Caught you skipping in your reading!!!!!!! I addressed th issue of a circulism demo in this lesson writeup, and told you that because of my system issues, that will have to wait til my new computer comes in. I'm having scanner problems as well, and that is the only way I can get a circulism demo to show up. Can't pull it off with my camera becz I have trouble getting it to focus on the circles close up. Unless anyone has any suggestions....(????)

01-30-2006, 04:45 PM
How about a couple of visual aids for those of us who have no clue what to do with circulism? You know, like Dave did with the strokes used in the P&I demos. I'd like especially to see how you achieve the lighter values and bright highlights without little circles showing on the paper . . .
I was asked to do a demo on circlism for Mike Sibley's book discussion group which I could post here if Troy doesn't mind - it's a single jpg of building a non-descript nose in 4 steps. The thing is that my method of circlism is somewhat different than anything I've heard other people do. I get good results with it but Troy may want people to learn to do things his way.


01-30-2006, 04:55 PM
Yeah, Rein--I already got my wrists slapped by the teacher.

01-30-2006, 05:06 PM
My outline done very lightly that you cant hardly see on my pic. I had to play with photoshop for you too see it.

The greyscale I have done in b and 2b graphite pencil. One row of little circles (I am not sure how this is done or if the way I did is right, I just draw little circles which I varied the pressure and amount to get darker values) and a second row the way I usually apply graphite on my drawings.


W/N Smooth paper: outline in b pencil


Cathie Jones
01-30-2006, 05:58 PM
CJ - Caught you skipping in your reading!!!!!!! I addressed th issue of a circulism demo in this lesson writeup, and told you that because of my system issues, that will have to wait til my new computer comes in. I'm having scanner problems as well, and that is the only way I can get a circulism demo to show up. Can't pull it off with my camera becz I have trouble getting it to focus on the circles close up. Unless anyone has any suggestions....(????)

Ha! The first thing I told you when I posted my ref what that I hadn't read the lesson yet. And here I was ready to protect you from the flaming liberals!!! :evil: I used my available morning time to do the PDF, and have had to work the rest of the day.

I was asked to do a demo on circlism for Mike Sibley's book discussion group which I could post here if Troy doesn't mind - it's a single jpg of building a non-descript nose in 4 steps. The thing is that my method of circlism is somewhat different than anything I've heard other people do. I get good results with it but Troy may want people to learn to do things his way.

Oh, good! I've never built a nose in 4 steps!! Hope Troy agrees!!

I'm getting ready now to read the lesson . . . . . . . :D

01-30-2006, 06:38 PM
Would anyone here know why, when responding to an e-mail notification re: Post # 49 on this thread, it takes me (every time!) to page 1, Post #1? Should I ask any techie at WC!? No problem with any other threads across the board...
Whoever did the magic act: Thank you! It takes me straight to it now!!! :D

01-30-2006, 06:41 PM

Ha! The first thing I told you when I posted my ref what that I hadn't read the lesson yet. And here I was ready to protect you from the flaming liberals!!! :evil: I used my available morning time to do the PDF, and have had to work the rest of the day.

And it was time well spent I might add!!!

A grateful class truly appreciates your pdf skills. Well at least I do.


01-30-2006, 06:41 PM
Troy - I am working on the tonal chart and have two questions.

1 - How do you hold the pencil? Normal writing style or vertical?

2 - I am using a .5 mm mechanical pencil, but after a thorough search of every cabinet in the house have only HB leads....found some of every size
3, 5, 7, 9, but all HB. Will that get black enough?


01-30-2006, 06:52 PM
CJ! :wave:
Thanks so much for the pdf's. You are a gem!!!:clap: :clap: :clap:

Anita Murphy
01-30-2006, 07:15 PM
Three cheers for CJ!

I can see this class is going to get out of hand very quickly!!! Its already turning rowdy in here and we've barely started! :D I wonder who will be first to start throwing food.....hmmmmmm......

01-30-2006, 07:23 PM
Three cheers for CJ!

I can see this class is going to get out of hand very quickly!!! Its already turning rowdy in here and we've barely started! :D I wonder who will be first to start throwing food.....hmmmmmm......

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...seems there should be a lot of ripe veggies around left over from Lesson 32:rolleyes:


01-30-2006, 07:32 PM
Hi everybody :wave:

Troy - thank you for that great lesson! And a joy to read as well...

I did the tonal chart, looking at it I realise I could have done an even blacker box, too.
The scan is a bit off, the first box IS actually white... ;)
Insert Image
I'm glad I did the tonal chart, not only as a value study but also to practice the circles. I should practice some more I think. Doesn't look smooth enough for my taste, but I got impatient soon and the circles got bigger and more elliptical...

And here's the line drawing - pushed the values a bit to make it visible. I don't really see the likeness just now but will go ahead with it anyways.

It's on Bristol paper, not very heavy, using a 2B mechanical pencil.


01-30-2006, 07:50 PM
Ok Troy (and everyone) here is my line drawing of this rather unconventional reference :wink2: I'm calling this one "Jokerface"...(a.k.a. Janet Reno :eek: :D ). It is darkened in PSP so it can be seen, it's not really this dark. I'm not used to drawing so much so deep in darks so I just kinda blocked off that section.......

Bristol smooth 11X14 (drawing 10X10)


and again the ref.....


Troy....I do have a couple questions.

First I am kinda thinking this may look better with a dark BG instead of the light one with the blurry shirt, what do you think?? (or anyone else's opinion for that matter, please give your thoughts). I was thinking it may really bring the face out more, and all the tones? (If anyone knows how to mod the pic to show this...please feel free)

Second...for the very dark shadowed areas....how would you attack them? Just go straight into darks in 3 layers or so?? or should I build the darks through layers of facial tones.

Cathie Jones
01-30-2006, 07:53 PM
Okay, people, settle down. This is going to be a very serious, studious class. There will be no food throwing and no testing the teacher's patience and sense of humor! BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/23460-mowahaha_smilie.gif

One thing about the pdf . . . I enlarged the first pic of AM and the last, and when they pdf'd they didn't come across clear enough, so you may want to print them from the lesson. And it was nothing, really - - only several hours of blood, sweat and tears (no, not the band!). :cool: Okay, I confess, it only took about 20 minutes . . . but don't tell Troy, okay?

NOW I've read the lesson, and I'm VERY impressed! Great job, Troy!! :clap: Now I'll follow the links to the other stuff, and then get to the value scale. I'll be using a mechanical pencil, because I love them for all the reasons Troy mentioned, and because I can travel with my drawing without packing a ton of pencils. And I'm thinking about putting my line drawing on the paper that has the value scale for trying things out before I put them on the real thing.

Nice texture in your chart, Amira!!!

Edit: I pdf'd Troy's previous circulism demo . . . it's here http://www.americanrag.com/Basic%20101/Troy's%20circulism%20demo.pdf

01-30-2006, 08:10 PM
Hi Teach:wave: :D

Here is some work I have been doing...about an hours worth. I think it might be a bit dark (the darks) that is.



Oh by the way I am going to call myself MaryR because I think there is another Mary in here somewhere.


01-30-2006, 08:16 PM
OOPS sorry...Strathmore is the paper and most is in mechanical pencil.



01-30-2006, 08:43 PM
OK first post on this thread. I can see everyone has been very busy while I've been at work. Troy great write-up, I printed it all out and will treasure it always :p . I'll do a grayscale tonight.

I can see we are all off to a fine start.:clap:

Bristol board ... 9x12.... mechanical pencil 2b so far. The line drawing is very light I didn't put ANY pressure on the pencil.

01-30-2006, 09:12 PM
I've done my greyscale an been practicing the circlism technique all evening. I've discovered that to make a realistic skin texture the circles must be VERY tiny.

I've started applying a little pencil to my line drawing and trying out one eye to see what happens. After all...its only paper! :)

01-30-2006, 09:18 PM
Throwing food again http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/30-Jan-2006/71908-smile12.gif and some for the dragon :cat:

Paper. A4 smooth Studio paper.


01-30-2006, 09:42 PM
Troy, here is my redo--I just sort of quickly sketched a map so pardon the top of the head. If this is ok, I am going on to the tone chart. OH! I have my Blu Tac on order--apparently you can find it at audio visual stores and in my case, I bought 4 packs of the stuff over at Amazon.com. So you can get it in the states.

01-30-2006, 10:01 PM
Hi Troy... here is my grayscale. I can also see that the circles need to be VERY small. I'm not ready to put pencil to paper yet... need to do another grayscale for practice.

01-31-2006, 12:04 AM
My linedrawing. It isn't really this dark but I had to darken it on PS so it would show up! The cap badge was the only thing that did. I am working on the greyscale now. Brenda

01-31-2006, 02:46 AM
Holy smokes!!! Five pages in one day. Troy, you better start calling genetic engineers so that you can clone yourself and do "double work". Running this class is the full time job of several people, not one. This is going to be great! I cannot wait to see everyone move through this process. What a great learning environment!

Here is my line drawing w/ ref. The lines are ever so faint. I am not even sure that they will be visible on the post, but here goes. I'm really stoked up about this class.


P.S. - Did I mention how excited I am about this project?



01-31-2006, 05:53 AM
Here is the result of about 2 1/2 hours work on white Stonehenge with a mechanical pencil. My concern is creating realistically those little lines and nuances that make up the character of the face. I haven't darkened the tones yet, but just implied them more or less. And the scan, as always, sucks. :(

Comments welcome, but no hitting. :evil:


01-31-2006, 06:54 AM
Jeanette, I can't see anything that would provoke my critique. This is a rather good start.

The only recommendation for later on is, take care that the transitions of the shadings be smooth since these are "form shadows". One more thing. If you take a look at the left (our left) corner of the eye, and directly into the corner of the eye. Is that really that distictly visible and does the upper eyelid not slightly go lower and extend a bit more outwards? I don't have the reference photo here on my screen but I think that the lower eyelid might come in at the corner a bit more and the upper eyelid cover that junction up a bit (at least in shading).

01-31-2006, 07:08 AM
Thanks for your eyes again Reinhard. :)

And yes, you are correct regarding that left corner of the eye, but I believe its the bottom lid that needs to be darkened a little and brought up tighter. The scan doesn't show well but the initial line is there however, I was trying to create or recreate a tiny highlight in that corner and as a result lightened the lower lid line too much. I will fix this (hopefully!) tonight when I draw again.

01-31-2006, 07:19 AM
ok, troy here is my value sheet--I could see wasting a good piece of bristol so I took the old line drawing and have turned into my value chart. THIS IS NOT THE DRAWING--JUST THE PRACTICE FIELD.

By the way, I would be interested in how other people are working--with the bad eyes and the 6' foot height, I seem to be hunching over a bit and I am getting a lot of tension in the back and neck which is causing migraines.

Also, I have never handled a 2b mechanical pencil before and could use some times on getting more values. I generally work with regular pencils or hb mechs so any times would be appreciated.

Moving on to the paint by numbers chart--that is an exccelent idea, BTW

REIN--join us and take the class--this is where the action is right now!!!

01-31-2006, 07:55 AM
Hi :wave:

Heres my greyscale, done with circlism using a 2b mechanical pencil... I used the smoothe side of an ingres paper.

Jeanette - Great start! 2 1/2 hours :eek: :eek: It took me 45 mins just to do the greyscale chart.

JayD - I'm very short, so I don't have any problems with height, but my neck did start aching a bit from crouching... so I put a thick book on my desk and placed my drawing board on it. this way I can work without having to bend my neck or spine.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2006/67003-DSCF1111.JPG .

Troy Rochford
01-31-2006, 08:00 AM
Also, I have never handled a 2b mechanical pencil before and could use some times on getting more values. I generally work with regular pencils or hb mechs so any times would be appreciated.

Jay - not being a smart aleck here, I want to make sure I understand. Did you mean to say you could use some tips on getting more values?:confused:

Okay all - I just got up and you're all aware of the computer situation so please bear with me. It will take me quite a while to get through all the posts today, plus I've got lots of other stuff going on today. I'm working on it though...

CJ - you're right you did say you hadn't read the lesson. I forgot about that lol.

Jeanette that's a great start. YES you need to make the circles very small for best results.

Brenda I noticed in your new line drawing that the moustache seems to be shaded in. Are you blocking that in as a dark shape during the line drawing process? If so, don't!!! You shouldnt be shading anything in when you're doing your initial line drawing.

Okay those are the things that jumped out at me... I'll comment individually as the day wears on...

OH --- Ken, by all means post whatever info you have. I said at the beginning of the class that my technique is only one, not "the" technique. Everyone has a different approach and if people want to try yours that's fine by me. It's not even a requirement to use circulism at all in this class, so you certainly don't have to do it exactly as I do!

01-31-2006, 08:04 AM
Yes, Troy--I have a pretty heavy hand and I am having trouble getting used to handling the pencil and thus having some trouble getting the values I am looking for. I could used the various pencils BUT I am here to do this your way, teach so let me rephrase--any tips would be appreciate to help me gain better control. --and you are certainly not being a smart aleck (what the hell is an "aleck"?).

Shalaka, I have big three ring binder that I attached strips of velcro too and a board with matching strips from my days before I could afford a real drawing table I will try using that to help with the posture. Thanks for the tip!!

Anita Murphy
01-31-2006, 08:13 AM
JayD - I have found that I can get the pencil so it feels like it is not even touching the paper yet leaves a mark - unfortunately it involves clenching my teeth so hard they ache! I haven't figured out the connection yet :D

Troy Rochford
01-31-2006, 08:53 AM
Anita you just hit on what people need to do. WHen you get more comfortable with the technique you can take a bit more of a heavy handed approach but that comes with time. You can't really do that until you get to the point where you can pretty much nail the correct tone on your first layer. Until you get used to it, you need to use an extremely light touch and build up many layers. It is not a speedy technique by any means!

01-31-2006, 08:59 AM
Troy, I just wanted to pop in here and say that you have done a FANTASTIC job with this class and I mean that! I really wish I could have participated with the class. :( I just have too many projects needing done, and with homeschooling....well, you know the story....

Anyway, much applause to you, my friend! You are awesome! :)

01-31-2006, 09:10 AM
Troy, this sounds a lot like colored pencils--I think I understand.

April, great thing about the 101 classes is that you can take them now or later or months or years(or yarns if you haven't found earth yet) --its all up to you and by your schedule!!

Cathie Jones
01-31-2006, 10:06 AM
So . . . Troy . . . do you put the circles down like Dave's scritpble in the P&I demo - scatter them out and then fill in the empty spots until you have the desired tone? Or do they overlap? Do you get the lightest tones with fewer circles, or try to get it solid with a super light touch? This is not as easy as it looks!

01-31-2006, 10:13 AM
What I'm doing - and it may not be correct - is doing tiny circles, likely no broader than the width of the lead in the pencil with a VERY light touch and not so much overlapping, but cosying up to each other :)

I practiced on this for about an hour til I got the right technique before applying it to my original. It realy does take a very very light touch initially. Once the first layer is down, you can increase your circle size it seems as they blend in better. Its slow work. Think coloured pencil, like Jay said. Then think SLOWER.

01-31-2006, 10:13 AM
After spending the whole of yesterday not even looking at my ref due to sheer nerves! I've managed to pull myself together and start. This is about 2.5 to 3 hours work and I know what little I've done is far from finished. I have butterflies posting this, Troy!

This is on Bristol with 2b mech/pencil.


And a very poor scan!

Troy Rochford
01-31-2006, 10:20 AM
CJ - actually the first layer (I MENTIONED this in my skin tones thread that is linked in this lesson, but I didn't provide a clear visual aid) in my technique is extremely similar in appearance to Dave's broken scribble, because I'm not actually drawing circles at that point but rather moving my hand in that motion and randomly lifting the pencil off the paper - resulting in random marks that sort of conform to an overall circular feel. The successive layers become more and more about actually drawing circles - and yes they are quite small and tend to overlap. And yes - just as with pen and ink - there ARE instances where you will slip in little dashes or other marks here and there in order to fill a white space that doesn't look quite right, etc...

My best advice is don't over-think it. Approach it much the same way you did Dave's technique in ink and you'll very quickly see that you're on the right track.

Btw April and I have discussed this before and our techniques are almost identical in terms of mechanics. She might have a demo that she can post until I can put one together on my new computer (eta on that is about a week and a half it looks like.. YAY!)

Troy Rochford
01-31-2006, 10:24 AM
Alison your work looks fine but you need a lot more layers to make it come alive. Don't go for solid coverage on your layers - let the underlying layers show through a little bit each layer.. thats where your randomness of tone comes in, which is common in skin in reality. No one has perfectly even toned skin - that's another thing a lot of artists fail to consider when attempting realism, and it is always to the detriment of the work

01-31-2006, 10:37 AM
Thanks Troy! I'll do my best to keep that in mind. :)

Cathie Jones
01-31-2006, 10:38 AM
. . . . . .my new computer (eta on that is about a week and a half it looks like.. YAY!)

Yippeeeee!!! New computers are so wonderful!!

Thanks for the more detailed explanation, Troy. You should know by now that I'll over-think it and need you to hold my hand until I get going . . . ;)

I have ten squares on my value chart and so far have used 3 or 4 of them to practice the lightest value. I can go back over them later to make them darker . . .

01-31-2006, 10:47 AM
Hi All,
Remember that movie The Karate Kid? I've now been doing value charts for two days - I keep muttering to myself: 'Paint the Fence, paint the fence.'

So here are my latest value charts. First on the left is Circulism, middle is Crosshatch and the right is Linear.

I'm using a 5mm 2B mechanical pencil for the first time. I love it.
Paper I'm less certain about. It is the best I can do locally - Cartiera Magnani Disegno 120gm Natural Finish, Acid Free, 100% high alpha cellulose. It was recommended by the local art shop. It seems to scuff up very easily under an eraser and I recall I had a lot of trouble with this brand's watercolour paper which is damaged even by masking tape. Anyway I'm only here to learn so I will see how I go with it and if it causes too many problems I will have to get something else. Meantime I'll have had all that practice:D


01-31-2006, 10:51 AM
JayD, as for "heavy hands" I suggest, take the pencil pretty close to the end, hold it with the tips of your thumb, index, and middle finger and let more or less the weight of the pencil do the trick for you. You will find that even if you wanted to really press, it is quite hard to do when holding the pencil this way.

One more note of caution with your drawing, pay very close attention to the lines I see in the eye. IRL there is NEVER a line nowhere in a portrait. I recommend to circle over these lines and make the edges "fuzzy". Take a look at my signature pictures and check if you see there clear lines (LOL).

Hope this helps and sorry if I hijack Troy's thread with my explanations. If yes, give me a yell and I'll stop.

01-31-2006, 10:58 AM
If yes, give me a yell and I'll stop.

Don't anyone dare even to open their mouth!!! :evil: :D

As a newbie I'm soooo grateful for all and any advice I get! - actually putting them into practice is something else altogether I'm afraid, but I'll keep practicing!


01-31-2006, 11:20 AM
one more added thought for "heavy handed artists". Whe you use a mechanical pencil and hold the pen as I described above, simply push out a longer lead line and draw a bit with the side of the tip. The moment you'll press too hard, the lead will break and let you know that this was simply too much pressure. Simple, yes, but it works!

For a "control freak" in wanting to be the "master of my pencil" like me this is sometimes annoying but I can get such light tones with it.

01-31-2006, 11:30 AM
Rein, thanks-- i will try your trick--buy the way you're critiquing a grayscale map--that is not the actual drawing!!! Hopefully there will no lines--and if I cannot work out the heavy pressure--well, then ol' Mr. Donovan will just be wearing sunglasses!!

01-31-2006, 11:36 AM
JayD, oh what the heck, I'll just critique anything !LOL :o :eek: :wave: :D

sorry, or as the old Latins used to say " si tacuisses philosophus mansisses" - modern translation "had you kept your bigh mouth shut you might have been a philosopher"

01-31-2006, 12:18 PM
Throwing food again and some for the dragon :cat:

Karsten....thanks for the pic mod ;).

Troy had asked me to post this question in class....and I really do want everyone's input also...so hear goes. I am trying to decide if I want to stick to my reference on the background, or try it with a black (or severely dark) BG. I do like the original...it balances the face well to me, but the idea of a black one seemed kinda cool also. Maybe bringing even more sole attention to the face, and another mood to the portrait.

Here is the original again......

and here it is mod'ed (thanks Karsten) into a black BG...

Now one thing Troy had said was how this is somewhat unrealistic. By changing the BG (and lighting) I would also have to adjust the "key" of the drawing. Making the tones more low key (dark). I'm sure he'll cover this more in depth and better, but my point...it would be drawn more like this.....

So really I'm deciding between pic #1 and this last one. Please feel free to give your personal input, and ideas. I would like to hear some more artists' thoughts before I make a final decision, and begin rendering today. Thanks everyone.

Troy, hope that's ok. :)

Troy Rochford
01-31-2006, 12:30 PM
See Ray - look at the left edge of his face - that insanely bright reflected light is a product of the light surroundings in the original photo. That's an unnatural look for the lighting conditions that you're suggesting (black bg). That's why I said you'd have to lower the key of the drawing if you want to use a black bg - otherwise your man will look like a cutout that has been pasted on to a black bg. I'll cover all of this and address all of the individual posts tomorrow from the library I promise. Today my computer is acting stupid again so I don't see myself getting a lot accomplished.:(

01-31-2006, 12:42 PM
dragonshade, I still prefer the first, original photo. It's far more sinister in its lightness than in the darker versions. There is a great juxtapose with the light on light look that I just don't feel with the dark on light.

Just my ten pence worth :)

01-31-2006, 12:48 PM
dragonshade - I'm voting for the original as well. Like a perfect white world and the dark somber one that's always lurking somewhere.... :evil:


01-31-2006, 12:52 PM
Great beginning Alison and Jeanette!!!

OK! I have started...! I find my photo reference is not the greatest, but will have to do. By holding the small original in front of a light bulb I was able to understand the structure of the bow tie, which I was going to "invent", LOL...

I did some tones on Crescent board with a mechanical 2B pencil, and was surprised at the intensity of the blackness, but there is glare, even though I used many, many light circular layers building it up. You recommend to use the edge of the lead, Troy. Considering the point surface of a 0.5 mm lead is so small, I assume it is a question of rotating the pencil while using it, and from time to time flatten the point on paper, or even sandpaper?

I put only the essential lines on my drawing. For me big part of the enjoyment is to kind of sculpt when modelling the surfaces by looking at the ref. I was surprised reading JD Hillberry suggesting to imagine touching them. I always touch my own face to get a good sense of the flow...

I will need to coax DH into letting me take more photos. His hair is white now, the eyes are hazel and not dark, and the lips and teeth are the same. They are crucial to the open, young smile that attracts me so much in this photo.

Robin Neudorfer
01-31-2006, 12:54 PM
Dragonshade- I think that the original has more of an abstract feel, which I lose
with the second version. I don't particularly like the shape left over by the line of the face in the second version. I also like the darkness that is achieved by the eyes and mouth in the first, one which is diminished in the second. So...my vote is the first one.

01-31-2006, 01:06 PM
Another wee update.

Troy, I've started correcting the skin on the cheek...is this looking more like textured skin?


01-31-2006, 01:06 PM
Dragonshade - I find the first one devilish enough without all that overpowering black BG - It also allows the whole range of values to show up better...

01-31-2006, 01:12 PM
Today was a rather boring day at work so I grabbed a pencil and startet praticing / doodeling.
I tried to get a smooth look, but I'd get impatient and my circles got bigger... I'm wondering now if if matters a lot whether the circles are big? From my sketch I had the impression that for very light parts the circles need to be tiny, but for mid-value and dark parts it really doesn't matter that much.

So here's the practice piece - am I on the right track?


01-31-2006, 02:34 PM
8 Pages already!!! I feel like I'm 'late-for-class' (I know I'm not)

First of all, Troy:wave: Thank you for all the efforts that you have put into this class already!!!:clap: :D It will be an honor to learn from such a talented artist, this is actually the first of your work I have seen, absolutely superb! And the write-up is fantastic, I've not yet completed the entire reading, but rest assured, the write-up will be read and reread, it is so informative and personable. Thank you again!:D

CJ: Thanks for the PDF files!:D

Looks like everyone is off to a grand start! I'm looking forward to watching all of these faces develop and learning from the variety here. Already been learning reading through the thread!:D

Posting now my value study with the .5mm mechanical pencil on Bristol-Smooth and my line drawing looks like a paint-by-number!!! I've already transferred drawing to my 11 x 14 Bristol. Will start AFTER reading!
I rather like the crop and may keep it that size...?( 8 x 11 instead of 11 x 14)
Ref Pic:

01-31-2006, 03:02 PM
I just popped in - in between painting and drawing (yes, I'm doing both today - I'm crazy aren't I???) - to give my hand a rest. Anyway, Troy had said that I could help a bit, perhaps give some demos if needed because we pretty much do the exact same thing as far as this technique goes. I'm not a teacher, so I hope my assisting the real teacher here will help him while he kicks and swears at his computer. :)

Amira: One question that seems to be asked so often is one regarding the size of the circles. The truth is that it is up to one's own preferences, but for the sake of this class and Troy's examples, the smaller the circles the better. The larger the circles the more texture, the smaller the circles the smoother the look. I have also noticed that the larger the circles the less control you have over your pencil. I actually use many different sizes when I work. It depends on the texture I am going after. For the eyes the circles are so small you can't even see the circle. The result is a very smooth look. When I get to the skin my circles get a bit larger. No one can really messure the circles and tell you exactly what size the circles should be because it needs to feel comfortable in your hand. I would suggest to take a seperate piece of paper and experiement different circle sizes and determine just which size would best show the texture you are wanting.

On one last note: SLOW DOWN is like the Mantra of circulism. The slower you go the more control you have. The more control you have, the better your work will be. Slower is definitely better. Don't rush. Relax and enjoy the process. :)

Now, back to Troy! :) Troy, did you have a certain demo you'd like me to show in regards to your post about that? I'll be more than happy to help in that way. :)

Assistent April sitting back down. :)

01-31-2006, 03:06 PM
This is how far I have gone today. Like everyone else not used to circlism or circulism, I am not sure I am doing it correct as well. But here it goes. :D I am just trying to place my initial values not pushing the darks at all at this stage to be safe. :) :wave:

W/N Smooth - B graphite pencil


01-31-2006, 03:16 PM
Thanks April for the explaination. I was wondering about that too. :)

01-31-2006, 05:34 PM
Alison, very good but it might get even better. IMHO the tonal value of the skin is still a tad too homogenous. Look at real skin and you will note that the skin has slight variations in tonal values in even smaller areas (like peaks and valleys represented in different tones of shading) and there are always some freckles (lighter or darker). Putting these very lightly in will improve the skin quite dramatically. It is good already but might get even better.

I hope your teacher says the same thing.

01-31-2006, 05:34 PM
Alison, very good but it might get even better. IMHO the tonal value of the skin is still a tad too homogenous. Look at real skin and you will note that the skin has slight variations in tonal values in even smaller areas (like peaks and valleys represented in different tones of shading) and there are always some freckles (lighter or darker). Putting these very lightly in will improve the skin quite dramatically. It is good already but might get even better.

I hope your teacher says the same thing.

sorry for the double posting!

01-31-2006, 05:36 PM
Troy, Excellent write-up, full of good food for thought and practice!:)
I am posting my progress as of 1 hour...why? you ask, well because I fear that I may have gone too dark already! (I do that!) And I am afraid to erase/smear, what do you think? I actually like the intensity of the values.
on Bristol/using .5mm mp (teeny-tiny circles and I realize that there is still much more detail/filling in on this area alone)Edit to say: This blown-up scan makes it look blurry, :(and IRL the little circles aren't so noticeable.

JayDI'm tall too 5'8", with a bad-neck, I noticed trouble in cp class, so I started to use my drawing table very high, bringing the drawing to me vs me crouching, my arm must be in a good place too, then I'm constantly checking myself for posture, take some breaks, and stretch...hope it helps.:) Migraines are no fun.:crying: I like your line drawing, and your value drawing looks good too.

01-31-2006, 05:54 PM
Hi everyone,

Some great work here already, and congrats to those brave enough to have actually started with tone! :eek:

I've done my line drawing and value scale. Bristol board,
.5mm mechanical pencil - realised I could get much darker, hence the weird goings on at the end of the scale - Reinhard, thanks for the tip about a longer point, when it snaps you know it's too much pressure!:D Felt like I was learning about the technique while doing the scale actually.

GREAT LESSON TROY - thank you so much! :clap:


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2006/43103-scarydavegray.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2006/43103-scareydaveline.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Jan-2006/43103-circvalue.jpg

01-31-2006, 05:59 PM
Rose, do I ever understand your hesitation to commit to the darks too early, but I recommend from own experience to not wait too long. Reason. What are you balancing your tonal values against? At least draw the pupils as black as you can get them since these will be in any portrait the darkest areas of the drawing. This will you give at least an indication of how to balance the rest of the portrait out. But still, applying the darks at the very end will force you to go over the complete and completed portrait again with the risk of smudging. Don't be too concerned, it's always easier to dab off some of the excess graphite with a kneadable eraser. This is at least what I have learned.

01-31-2006, 06:18 PM
Thanks againg Troy for the very informative lesson. I am a little late starting; but here is my sketch on Bristol smooth.


01-31-2006, 06:20 PM
Troy B-4 you reply to my question in post #116! I used my own judgement and lifted off some of the graphite, it was too dark, the above scan of the eye is an awful representation too! So I will now fill it in again only more lightly!!!

01-31-2006, 06:22 PM
Hey Chloe, we're on the same page!!! I just posted today too! One other person will be using 'Homeless Mike' as a reference as well. Cheers!

01-31-2006, 07:48 PM
Well, here is the best result I could get after some practise using "circulism".

I am using a .5 mm mech pencil with HB lead on vellum Bristol.


01-31-2006, 10:05 PM
Hi there emme. ,
How's it going? That's all I've done so far. I've been so busy.. Will go do my gray scale. It'll be great to see how we all portray Mike.;-))):wave:

Fireman's kid
01-31-2006, 10:06 PM
Wow! 122 posts after two days! These 101 classes have become the hip place to hang out I think. :D

I fully intended to read the lesson last night, but a huge knot in my back prevented me from getting on the computer or doing any art work. So I hope to get caught up tonight. I've read all of the posts and will read the lesson next. My line drawing is ready but I will hold off on posting it until I've read everything. Tomorrow I plan to search the house for a mechanical pencil and some lead. With two engineers in the house I'm thinking they shouldn't be too hard to find. :rolleyes: Worst case I can run to the Staples 5 minutes down the road.

Troy, thank you for putting together this lesson. It feels like it is going to be another fabulous, record-setting lesson. Your WIP images are absolutely fabulous and like others I hope to be able to do half as well. You da man!! :clap:

CJ - Thanks for postponing your own progress so you could put together the PDF for your classmates. I appreciate it and I have a feeling a lot of us will be printing it out to refer to while we work. :clap:

Now where did I put that newsprint? :evil: (Just kiddin' ya know.)

01-31-2006, 10:20 PM
Troy, I just wanted to post my progress for the day as I work on Weds. and won't be back to the drawing board until the eve./night. :crying: I would like you to tell me if I am on the right track here. Thank You :) Glad to hear your computer is on the way :)
Using Circulism/Bristol/.5mm I like this technique, it reminds me somewhat of P&I pointilism. Edit for Question: In this method how do we go about rendering the eyebrows, etc.? I was thinking of putting some main ones in with highlights, using some lines, and then shading some areas too.

Cathie Jones
01-31-2006, 10:58 PM
Hi Chloe and Michelle! Michelle, you're getting waaaaaay ahead of me!

Hi Joe - nice chart!!

Stacy, thanks, but pdf'ing is really easy . . . and I needed it, too! ;) Hope you can get started soon, but I haven't put a mark on my paper yet - just finished the chart. I probably won't be able to do anymore until Thursday.

So . . . here's my chart. Don't know how the scan will look - awful as always I'm sure - but it's pretty good IRL. Sure was good practice!!! Mechanical pencil on Bristol Smooth (can't find my newsprint, either!):p


Sure is quiet in the attic . . .

Anita Murphy
01-31-2006, 11:30 PM
Wow - everyone is doing so well!!! 2 days and 9 pages later ............

I may post tomorrow - depends how I feel about what I have done in the morning - sometimes I'm happy with it and other times I just think it would be easier to start again - and I've already done it once!!! :( (I can't face that uniform again!!!!!)

02-01-2006, 12:46 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/67372-ron-circle.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/67372-rseigla.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/67372-ron-greyscale.jpg

Here is my work so far and my greyscale. I need to bring his jawline down some and I can see I am going too dark already. This is really tough to get a really light touch with the mechanical pencil!!! Seems every time I barely touch the paper it is already a dark mark, no pressure applied!!! Brenda

02-01-2006, 03:13 AM
Reinhard thank you! I am now really seeing the difference between photorealism and realistic portraiture. Photos really don't do the human face justice, almost to the point where I am having to disregard the photo for detail as it isn't showing any (compared to the real life, breathing subject).

I'll do some more to mine today and hopefully have something to post later.

02-01-2006, 05:21 AM
Alison, I suggest to take a look at Armin's work to see how he did skin and see what you could incorporate in your drawing. I recommend to study his recent project "PaleoJoe". Don't only look at the finished piece alone but as well at the WIP where you can study in detail how the portrait was developed. All of Armin's portraits are recommended to study the last one ist just easier to find.

02-01-2006, 05:27 AM
Thanks Reinhard, I am an avid fan of Armin's work. His website has been in my bookmarks since I first saw it! :D

02-01-2006, 05:51 AM
9 pages already! This is going to be a very loooooong thread.

My update isn't much. But I'm a bit nervous about drawing with a new technique and just wanted to know if I was going the right way. So far have using a o.5mm2B mechanical pencil and a 0.3mm HB mech. pencil, only circles, no blending. Used the smooth side of an ingres paper.



02-01-2006, 06:01 AM
Scanned again to get a closer look at details. C&C's very welcome before I make to many faults.

Paper: Smooth Studio A4 (210*297 mm ~ 8"*11")


Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:04 AM
just so you know guys - between my monitor problem, my internet crashing every 3 or 4 minutes (yes THAT has decided to start again today) and this site being down, I have now been trying VERY unsuccessfully since 730 this morning to communicate with you. I have things to do here this morning but I'm going to library this afternoon to hopefully catch up.

02-01-2006, 09:07 AM
just so you know guys - between my monitor problem, my internet crashing every 3 or 4 minutes (yes THAT has decided to start again today) and this site being down, I have now been trying VERY unsuccessfully since 730 this morning to communicate with you. I have things to do here this morning but I'm going to library this afternoon to hopefully catch up.

Have a very nice day Troy. We shall be patient. :) :) :) :wave: Good luck!!

02-01-2006, 09:09 AM
Everybody is looking so good--I cannot believe some of the difficult photos that were chosen. My hats off to you all!!!!

Here is an update on mine. VERSION 3--I redid the line drawing after re-reading Troy's epic so that it was more defined. I removed some of the minor reflection marks figuring that I could come back and blue tac them once the BT comes in from Amazon.com. Lastly, my first past produced Jay Jay Binks or the JayRaptor effect--cause: circles were to far apart and I got scales--so taking Jeanette's lead I used a magnifier and pushed the circles to the size of the lead itself using the rule if I can see the circles under the magnifer they are too big--OH, Rein--extending the lead and holding the pencil differently really worked. Here is my progress thus far.

I dont think this is going to be a Ken, troy or amin-piece but I have walked away with an enormous amount of gained knowlege thus far!!! This is not that impressive but I feel I am making some progess.

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:12 AM
Joe and CJ your scales look great. You have the right idea for sure.

Shalaka you are going to excel at this.

Alison I'm not sure what Reinhard is directing you to do because I've only read this last page, but I'm glad you feel like youre getting help.. I think;)

Brenda - I think your biggest problem is that you don't take your time. We've discussed this issue in the earlier classes. It should take you WEEKS to get as far along in your portrait as you are already. As a result, your tones look rough and your likeness is way off. I'm not trying to belittle your work or anything, just trying to help you. You're a great artist but you are going way too fast. Even your value scale looks rushed. Considering the fact that youre supposed to be trying to mimic skin tones when you make your value scale, that should take you a minimum of a full hour. This class is going to be very long - take your time.

Michele - You seem to be going too fast too. It's looking like you kind of hav the right idea but tonally it looks a bit flat, and the texture isn't really reading as skin at this point. Try a lighter touch and slower pace and pay close attention to your values. Oh, and don't do hair with circles!!! That's just plain silly! Render hair using a more linear technique as you would naturally be inclined to do.

02-01-2006, 09:14 AM
YayD, I'm glad this won't be an Armin, Troy or Ken-piece - who can - because this should be a JayD piece and it is looking very good. Don't belittle your artistic abilities too much, please!!!!!!!! You might lateron want to think about the structural shadings under the eyeball. At this early stage there is little one can say but bravo so far!

02-01-2006, 09:19 AM
I have a snow day here, so have some drawing time while the blizzard rages outside.

Last night and this morning I have done more work filling in the initial layer of graphite on paper and starting to deepen some tone. I'm not sure about it yet, but perhaps like coloured pencil, it goes through that 'ugly' stage. :)

I wish I had done it larger now, as I find its more difficult to create tones in a small space. The actual drawing itself is probably only the size of my hand with fingers spread. But I'll keep on with it and see where it goes. It just seems to be moving ahead more quickly than anticipated or am I missing something entirely here.

Its like that point when you've done the exam and everyone around is still furiously writing, you know?:( :confused:

Here it is, I hope for a better image and I'll try photographing it closer shortly.


Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:26 AM
Reinhard I see now what you were telling Alison about how skin should show variation of tone, and you said you hoped I would say that same thing. Lol I DID say the same thing in a previous post! I'm in total agreement there, as no human being has perfectly toned skin. I also see where you suggested to someone about blackening the pupils to establish a point of tonal reference. I agree with this as well. This is another good reason to start with eyes or AN eye. I just never thought of it that way because I usually start with the eyes ANYWAY.

Amira - you seem to have the right idea but it looks a little sloppy- take your time. If you rush this particular technique it will look like absolute trash in a hurry. As I said previously - this is going to be a very long class. Some of you guys act like you have to be done by next Tuesday or something lol.

Bard - looks great, but see my and Reinhard's comments about allowing for random variance of tone in skin. Let your underlying layers show through - beginning with the first layer you want to let some white of the paper show through at random.

Alison 2 - I'm seeing some very strong, very distracting directional patterns in your value scale. Lighten up your touch and avoid working in straight lines. Circulism is similar to p&i stippling in that regard - if you work in straight lines you WILL get unwanted patterns in your work. Keep your application random. I usually work in a vaguely circular pattern.

02-01-2006, 09:28 AM
Boy, Jeanette--you are one busy beeeee!!! This is really nice looking. Are you lifting out any highlights yet? I am still waiting for the blue Tac to arrive so right now I am just layering. Thanks for the help on the circles!!

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:32 AM
Jay and Jeanette - looks like both of you have the right idea but you need to concentrate on letting your underlayers show through - this is what creates the natural flecks and blemishes and subtle variations of value, blah blah blah.

I'm also becoming very concerned about how quickly some of you are moving. Armin can tell you that to get to stage 4 in my demo took about a week of working at least an hour every single day. This is one of those things where if you can do the whole portrait in a week, you're doing it wrong. Sllllllllllllllllooooowwwwwww Doooooooowwwwwwwnnnnn!

02-01-2006, 09:33 AM
Thanks Jay. Yeah, sleep doesn't happen a lot for me lately so I get extra drawing time in. :) That combined with the size of the piece. Next time I'm going HUGE!

You have mastered the circles for sure Jay seeing your update on your SP. Looks good to me.

I have tried not to use the eraser to create any highlights, but to make the pencil to do work. And going slowly makes that possible.

02-01-2006, 09:35 AM
What size was your portrait of Armin Troy? The small size here may really make a difference you know.

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:36 AM
Alison here's my post from yesterday in case you missed it.:)

Alison your work looks fine but you need a lot more layers to make it come alive. Don't go for solid coverage on your layers - let the underlying layers show through a little bit each layer.. thats where your randomness of tone comes in, which is common in skin in reality. No one has perfectly even toned skin - that's another thing a lot of artists fail to consider when attempting realism, and it is always to the detriment of the work

02-01-2006, 09:48 AM
Troy, thanks!! I am moving a lot slower then most--I have actually drawn the line work three times and I started drawing the circles--AGAIN--at 5pm last night and stopped around 4am this morning. I also took a break to re-read key points in Matti's book and I also pulled the hillberry book as well.
Will work on what you suggest about the underlayers.

Jeanette, thanks--I have to see thing progress to understand them --that is why troy's demo is so valuable and then what you told me. Today while I work I have a doodle pad out and while I am talking to people, I will be practicing the laying on of the circles. Then tonight--back to the drawing board!!!

02-01-2006, 09:55 AM
Thanks Troy, I saw and responded to your comment already ;)

I've spent upward of 6 hours on this and it looks pretty crappy so far. I don't think I'm keeping the Chicken Pox look :D I think the scan has been a little over excited at being switched on today :rolleyes:


Oh, I am using Bristol and a 0.5 2b mech/pencil

Cathie Jones
02-01-2006, 09:58 AM
JayD - you think you're slow? It took me 4 hours to do the value chart!! I was having so much trouble getting a really light touch, I used all of the squares to practice tiny, light circles, then went back to do the graduated darkening.

Rein - your hint about extending the lead really helped. I always use a mechanical pencil so I'm familiar with turning to keep it sharp, using the side of the lead, etc., but didn't know that one!! Thanks!!

I have no intention of hurrying this . . . Troy promised step-by-step instructions and I plan to take advantage of it.

In the meantime (*until Troy's new computer arrives*) I've printed my line drawing on Bristol smooth and will use it to practice . . .

02-01-2006, 10:10 AM
Every body your work is great so far - especially those with the difficult projects - and then you do it in a new technique as well. Go for it guy's.

Ok so I re-did my whole project again, I have tried the first one with the circulism technique and was just not happy with what I got out of it. So I started over and used the cross hatching - my old buddy. I am posting both so you can see the difference between the two pieces. I redid the line drawing as well, I wanted to capture my Dad's eyes a bit better then what I did in the first one. All in all I must admit that I am much happier with this one. This is just the first layer...some more to come, I have only spend about 30 min on the work so far (that is shading). I have tried the mechanical as well, but more comfortable with my pencil, my line drawing was done in the mechanical then I started my shading with B pencil. This is done on strathmore 9 x 12.


02-01-2006, 10:21 AM
Alison, that is sloppy??? Good lord, then I must be wallowing in the slop trough!!

02-01-2006, 10:30 AM
Hiya everyone, just checking in. Whoa...that's a lot of posts to go through with my dino-puter. I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's efforts though. This is my second attempt at "true" circularism and that is one important thing I took away from the last....this is a slow process. You can rush, but the results look like crap. It must be slow and controlled. The circles must be added layer by layer slowly, and then sometimes even regone over...sometimes in a "tighter" (smaller circle) wash to smooth it all out. Another thing I noticed was once the initial very light layer (when applied right almost sounds like you're gently "tapping" the paper....I guess from the random touches of the point)...is done the next layers go on differently. Once the paper is lightly coated with "tone" it's easier to layer, add, and build. If you go too dark (usually from going too fast) pat or roll the blu-tack or kneadable, and start layering it lightly again. Thought maybe these things might help some who are stuggling a little getting the hang of the technique. (Troy...I hope you don't mind my input, and please correct anything wrong)

Thank all of you that gave input on my portrait. I did decide to go with the lighter background. I'll tell you...if I thought this was going to be easy because there are no eyes, I was wrong. This is one hard ref (for me at least). I usually draw from top left to bottom right...so with this I've had to start in "gray no-man's land"...just a wash of all midtones. It's giving me a real hard time with my skin tones on the upper right forehead (which is the entire area I'm working). I've come to realize I have no real hightlight at all. The forehead areas are the lightest areas :( and it just gets crazier from there). I hope to have an update tonight....maybe you can help me out Troy.

p.s. Troy...how long are you thinking for this class? How much time realistically (average) should we be putting into our portraits by the end with this technique? This may give people an idea (myself fully included) how much time they should be spending on each area of the drawing. After all the goal is realism...realism is details....details means time. In other drawings I have stopped working a certain area (leaving details I still saw behind) just because I "felt" I was taking too long on that area. The goal of this is different though, correct?

02-01-2006, 10:38 AM
Alison, that is sloppy??? Good lord, then I must be wallowing in the slop trough!!

Not sloppy, but crappy. I feel as if I am the one who is wallowing! Though if I am perfectly honest, I've done nothing but flounder since joining WC!

Now you have managed to get some great detail into that eye of yours! :clap:

dragonshade, thanks for the tips!

02-01-2006, 11:17 AM
Troy I'm starting over! Based on your comments and my dissatisfaction with my work and thinking about the lesson, to improve upon the photo. My ref is pretty flat, My rendering is flat. (not as flat as the scanned image, but flat nonetheless, I went dark too fast, don't have enough highlights. Even though I do have many layers and did spend 5 hrs, it wasn't right. And don't reccomend that I remove and start to go over it lightly again;I already did that and DO NOT like the way it looks!! :) I am pleased with my line drawing and for the most part-the eye. I haven't rendered a portrait since high school a couple of decades ago and I am here to learn, push, improve, and learn some more!!!So tonite when I return home I will start all over!!! Slowly, lightly...:D

02-01-2006, 11:52 AM
Well, I finally got my Strathmore 500 Series Bristol Plate paper but I sprained my thumb this morning holding my keys (if you can believe it!). I can't even hold a pencil just now. But once I can put myself back together I'll get started. Sigh .. that's it .. I quit this getting older nonsense ... from now on I'm going backwards.


02-01-2006, 11:55 AM
After one moore hour. Considering to start on a new version :confused:


02-01-2006, 11:57 AM
Michele definitely dont give up--seems like I spend my time drawing and redrawing.

Ken--regarding age--I'm right there with you--sorry about the thumb!!

02-01-2006, 11:58 AM
[QUOTE=artstuff]Not sloppy, but crappy. I feel as if I am the one who is wallowing! Though if I am perfectly honest, I've done nothing but flounder since joining WC!

Soooo not true. Chin up there. Your work is excellent!

02-01-2006, 12:22 PM
Troy..I had already made these adjustments when I read your post; considering where everyone else is and the tones on mine you are right. I guess a do over is in order. I am very impatient
at times, this will be a good exercise to force me to go slower.
Bernice and Alison I know just how you both feel but believe me, you two do absolutely fantastically beautiful work!!!!!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/67372-rseigla.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/67372-roncircle2.jpg

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 12:27 PM
Alison - I am on my second version too - think it takes a LOT of practice to get this right.

02-01-2006, 01:28 PM
I did some tones on Crescent board with a mechanical 2B pencil, and was surprised at the intensity of the blackness, but there is glare, even though I used many, many light circular layers building it up.
You recommend to use the edge of the lead, Troy. Considering the point surface of a 0.5 mm lead is so small, I assume it is a question of rotating the pencil while using it, and from time to time flatten the point on paper, or even sandpaper?
Is my assumption OK? I am curious about how other artists do this... :)

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 01:47 PM
Raquel - I found this too and have taken to rubbing the pencil on scrap paper to flatten it out if its too pointed .

02-01-2006, 02:20 PM
Since Troy seems to be having computer problems and some of you don't sound too happy with what you've done I'll speak up with a bit of advice. I haven't gone to compare anything to reference photos so these are general thoughts.

I've done a few drawings now using this technique and I should let you all know that you need to develop patience to succeed at this. I generally average about 30 hours doing a 9x12 with this technique. Sometimes I will spend 8-10 hours on the eyes alone. This isn't fast and, like Ray said, if you go too fast it shows - and not in a good way. The more time you spend getting something to look just right the better the entire drawing will turn out. Really.

Thanks JayD ... the thumb seems to be recovering. Damndest thing ... just holding keys and wham ... cramp. But like I said ... this is it ... I'm aging backwards from here on. Just you wait till I'm 25 again!


02-01-2006, 02:32 PM
Let me add that I am an absolute beginner at this technique and it is taking a lot of will power that I have to slow down--I have the same problem with cp--I think Troy was talking about focus in his lecture and I think it is that very idea of focusing that will help you to slow down. I am still moving too fast but I am seeing a minutae of progress so I know I just have to keep on trying.

My personal goal is to learn this technique to the point where I can do a really kickass grisaille!

Keep at it guys!!! We will get there!!!

02-01-2006, 02:44 PM
Is my assumption OK? I am curious about how other artists do this... :)
Raquel ... I wouldn't overly concern myself with glare from the blacks. I recently did a portrait of Paul McCartney that had a LOT of blacks. They were pretty shiny by the time I was finished, but a couple coats of Krylon Matte Fixative evened it all out. Some people can get black blacks without a lot of glare - generally by doing several layers and very small circles with a pointy lead. I haven't had much luck with that but the matte fix seems to work fine for me.

The easiest way to think about your pencil grades is to consider a 9B to be pure graphite. Pure graphite is a very large rough flake which tends to lie flat on the paper when it comes off. It piles on top of itself like sheets of shiny material so it will eventually be very reflective. As your graphite grade goes higher it gets harder because it is mixed with clay. Think of a 9H as almost entirely clay. Clay is a much finer and less reflective material so it takes more to fill the tooth in the paper. That hardness also means it is more likely to emboss your paper (leave a trail of wherever it has been). This trail will be very difficult if not impossible to hide if you use too hard a pencil no matter HOW softly you push. However, that trail can be a very useful tool for showing individual hairs, for instance. Try this experiment ... use a very hard pencil and gently drag it across a scrap of your chosen paper. Then use a 2B and shade in straight strokes (like hair) across that line (at 90*). You will see that line show through very clearly. Now try to fill it in and hide it ... good luck.

And one last thought to remember is that the soft flakey graphite resists adhering to the harder clay so if you put down a layer of say 2H, you are going to have a difficult time putting a 2B on top of that and you'll find it virtually impossible to put 4B on it without pushing so hard you ruin the tooth. If you get your tone too dark, simply use your BluTack to lift it off and try again.


Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 02:50 PM
Jay - slowing down is hard for me too. But have spent nearly 30 hours on this drawing so far so I must be getting better at slowing down. I'm still not convinced by my skin texture though.

02-01-2006, 02:52 PM
There's some great advice coming in here. :clap: :clap: :clap:

Bernice, Brenda and Anita, I seem to be suffering a huge dose of frustration with this piece. It's my third attempt at circulism and by far the hardest of the three. I really do think my ref pic is lacking in detail as I am having to make it up as I go along!

I promise to be less hard on myself! :D

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 03:05 PM
Me too Alison - lousy ref pic with no tonal variation!!!

02-01-2006, 03:33 PM
Hi Troy,
I did whatever you advised me to.I took my time and did my line drawing agian. I know its still not looking like him.I think it will start looking like him once i start teh shading .because i have drawn so manyline around mouth that it doesnt look like him.I have drawn them because the shading is very differrent at each level and once completed it will gel up.I would like to go ahead and try this and if the end result is not good then i am willing to try it again from start. what do you say about this?
I have also done my line drawing very lightly but since I have decreased the brightness of the picture while scanning the lines might look slightly darker.
The left hand side of the gray scale is done with simple motion(lines) and in the right is the grayscale done with circulism.I have even mentioned the amount of pressure and layers done to come to that particular shade.I hope my wirting is visible.I was not able to complete the topmost box in the ciruclism scale ,that's because my pencils had started to skid so I left that.
So what are the further instructions for me?

02-01-2006, 03:40 PM
Hi Everybody,
Great work happening here - most fun I've had that's legal LOL. Anyway I'm going to post something even if I get sent to sit in the corner. I had lots of problems with lack of definition in my reference photo so took another photo of DH's eyes - lighting was different, of course, so I'm trying to stick with the original light. You can already see - I'm going to be in trouble:D

I'm using Cartiera Magnani 120 gm paper. Found a wonderful version of Blu Tac in Italy - it's White, but works like a charm.

Troy: I am basically tryng to draw myself a value map here - nothing is finished but I need some dimension because I'm totally new to this. So here it is - a full 6 hours work.


02-01-2006, 03:45 PM
I feel like an absolute fool for asking, but can someone tell me how to post WIP and ref photo side by side?


Cathie Jones
02-01-2006, 03:53 PM
I feel like an absolute fool for asking, but can someone tell me how to post WIP and ref photo side by side?


Hi Robyn! :wave: If you want to use the uploader, make your images smaller so they'll fit the width of the post, upload them one after the other without any spaces between them.

02-01-2006, 04:00 PM
Thank you CJ - I'll try that next time. Also thank you for that second PDF - I know I have the software to make a PDF but haven't a clue how to do it. I'm ashamed - I used to write about computers, way back in the dark ages, spanning the period from mainframe through superminicomputer to PC. Trouble is if you stop following the technology for a year, you know nothing!


Cathie Jones
02-01-2006, 04:15 PM
Thank you CJ - I'll try that next time. Also thank you for that second PDF - I know I have the software to make a PDF but haven't a clue how to do it. I'm ashamed - I used to write about computers, way back in the dark ages, spanning the period from mainframe through superminicomputer to PC. Trouble is if you stop following the technology for a year, you know nothing!


Robyn - I forgot to mention they won't show side-by-side in the reply - just after you submit the post.:D

02-01-2006, 04:56 PM
Thank you for answering my question, Anita and Ken!

Alison - glad to hear you are going to be less hard on yourself. Your skill is excellent! :envy:

Great start Robyn...!

02-01-2006, 06:00 PM
There is some great work posted so far!

JayD Thanks for the encouragement! :) I'm not giving up! Just restarting. I liked your comments on focus too & relating to the lecture. I look at the earlier efforts as practice and lessons learned as this is my first time for circulism too, and 20+ yrs since a completed portrait in hs!

Ken, Dragon, & Rein: Thanks to all of you for steppin' in a bit while Troy's computer is 'under-the-weather' (being tossed out the window! lol)

I tried the kneaded eraser/blue tac and lightly reapplying but I think (maybe it's just me?!) I can see a difference in those areas vs. non-erased areas, and I don't care for what I see.

Well folks, will check back in later tonite, but just had to check in and see what was happening today! I guess we all need to relax, slow down, and enjoy the process and the transformation of the blank paper into the portrait, over several days, weeks even! :)

02-01-2006, 06:11 PM
I can understand people's levels of frustration with this, as I'm undergoing to same thing. Maybe its my inability to conquer a new technique effectively, the paper, my technique or my usual style coming through. I don't know.

I don't want to start over and think that what I'm doing now is ok as a portrait, but may not be the perfect example of circlism. Whatever the case I find it frustrating and am wondering if I should be in this class at all. After all art should be satisfying, not frustrating. The factor of time I don't buy into entirely. The same with cp. We all work at different paces and different sizes of portraits do make a difference in work and the time it takes to complete one.

I'll give it a few days and won't be posting here unless I have something significant to show or say.

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 06:17 PM
What size was your portrait of Armin Troy? The small size here may really make a difference you know.

Sorry this is late but my monitor died this morning when I tried to reply to this, and the library's computers are down (why am I even surprised?:rolleyes: )...

My armin portrait fits on my scanner with room to spare, so I'm guessing it's about 8x10 but I didnt precisely measure it. I've said prior to this class tht I wouldn't recommend working any smaller than that, since we're concentrating on high detail. It's nothing I want to turn into an argumentative issue, but what each of you needs to do with each little section of your portrait before moving on is determine whether that section looks truly realistic. Think of that section as a finished piece unto itself. Does it look finished? I have yet to see a submission in this thread where the artist can answer "yes" to that question. It doesn't mean the work isn't good, it just means it needs to be worked to completion or near completion before trying to fly through the whole thing and knock the portrait out in record time. This isn't the WDT so I don't know what the rush is all about!!!:wave:

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 06:27 PM
Jeanette you seem to be under the impression that my telling you take your time is some kind of "rule." It is not. Merely a suggestion. See, I was under the impression that you wanted my help with this, but if it is going to cause you this much grief, I will keep my thoughts to myself with respect to your submissions. Work at whichever pace you like. Better?

I can understand people's levels of frustration with this, as I'm undergoing to same thing. Maybe its my inability to conquer a new technique effectively, the paper, my technique or my usual style coming through. I don't know.

I don't want to start over and think that what I'm doing now is ok as a portrait, but may not be the perfect example of circlism. Whatever the case I find it frustrating and am wondering if I should be in this class at all. After all art should be satisfying, not frustrating. The factor of time I don't buy into entirely. The same with cp. We all work at different paces and different sizes of portraits do make a difference in work and the time it takes to complete one.

I'll give it a few days and won't be posting here unless I have something significant to show or say.

02-01-2006, 07:00 PM
Jeanette--sometimes things that you want to do is going to hurt. We are all here, with exception of a few, are working WAY out of our comfort zone.
Why do it? Well, its good for us. Besides, I like having you here and so does a lot of other people I am sure--so stick it out with us, soldier!!!

Troy,I am working slow and I am trying to follow your advice--I'm just concentrating on growing some skin first and then I can move on to the fun modeling--This is like that Clive Barker Short Story "The Hell Bound Heart"(Hellraiser was the name of the movie) --where I am reassembling myself one bit at a time. Hopefully, with less pain--Here is where I am thus far---I have been at this off and on since this morning--I even took this to a doctor's appointment this afternoon and nailed two children's commisions for this fall--THANKS DR. ROCHFORD!!!:

02-01-2006, 07:10 PM
Way to go JayD! :) Congrats on the commissions! Your portrait is looking good too!

02-01-2006, 07:22 PM
Jeanette, Please stay! :) You are so talented, your portrait is looking fabulous and you have a lot to offer the class too! :)

Found a use for tracing paper - lol - after you've x-fered your line drawing down to the good paper and lifted up that and the graphite paper and sadly realize that you missed AN EYE !!!

Like I said, starting over from the value study on, I can see a difference, the top row is the new LAYERED VALUES, the bottom was my first scribbly attempt. In the new I can see subtle variations. I hope I've got it now! I think I do! :)

02-01-2006, 08:02 PM
Thanks Rein and Troy. I went back and reread all the demo again.

Troy from what I have read and see in the pics you supplied, do you work in each part of the face to a finished look? I dont mean that you may not go back there and change whatever. But to start with, you work into sections right? I was just kind of applying a value map to push the values later on, but I see that is not I am suppose to do. I am glad I just worked some on mine. I was going to do it the same way I did other drawings. I am glad I stopped right there. It will be strange at first to work into sections. But I guess the outline being right, there shouldnt be surprises on loosing the likeness. Maybe that is why I usually work tones all over the drawing first, just to be sure the likeness is there. I liked the circlism or circulism movement quite a bit.

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 08:35 PM
Guys, please bear with me here. I’m now resorting to typing my comments in Word because every time I try to post a long reply my system seems to crash right before posting – and my monitor prob has worsened to the point where now when it goes down, I have to turn off the entire computer for about 30 min and reboot, thus losing everything I was working on. Not looking for sympathy here – in fact, now that I have a new computer on the way I can almost (but not quite!) laugh about this. I just want you to understand that my delay in responding is not because I don’t care about this class. It is totally beyond my control. I’m going to literally spend all night if I have to in order to catch up with this thread, but it’s likely to take that long – so just be patient please.


Anita/Racquel – I have never in my life had to take sandpaper to mech pencil so you shouldn’t have to do that. But yes you may have to rotate the pencil occasionally to make sure youre drawing on the sharp edge to get blacks. However, that shoudlbe VERY occasionally. If youre wearing the edge down that fast, you’re using way too much pressure. I suspect the same problem if you are seeing an overwhelming degree of glare. That’s a problem easily remedied though, so don’t worry about it. You just have to find the right touch – it takes time.

Everyone – one more note about taking your time – Ken and Ray have posted solid advice here regarding circulism, and they have become pretty familiar with the technique as you all know. Well, you know who helped them extensively in private to learn the technique, and where they got most of the advice they have posted here regarding the technique? From ME. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn; my point is that they took my advice in good faith and applied it to their work, and their work has radically improved in seemingly no time at all. When I give you guys advice, please don’t get mad about it or think that I’m just giving you a hard time because I’m sadistic or something – I’m trying to help you. If you follow what I tell you, it will work for you. Ken and Ray are perfect, shining examples of this fact. But neither of them do things exactly as I do either, which is another thing to remember. You do need to find your own way of doing things, but you should also trust that the principles I provide to you are worthwhile and nothing to get upset about.

And by the way, frustration in art is fine. If you aren’t frustrated from time to time, you aren’t pushing yourself. I’ve said before that if I threw a temper tantrum and bailed out of a project every time I got frustrated, I’d be in another line of work. Jeanette I will use your submission as an example. Your work thus far looks great, it really does. But it is far from perfect and far from finished, and I feel like you would be better served to take your time, work at a slower pace, and really focus on bringing it to life one smaller area at a time. As I said though, this is a suggestion. You are certainly free to disregard anything I say as utter nonsense!

Africanart – Your new effort is much better here. Remember to use a light touch and build layers to add volume and depth to the skin tones. Nice start!

Ken – let me know when you find that fountain of youth! Sounds great to me!

Karsten – looks good – what I would suggest is focusing on one eye at a time and concentrate on your skin tones and fine details. You can really bring this to life with some added work before expanding your work area.

Pal – excellent improvement on the line drawing! Your value scales look okay but there are some patterns evident in the first one. The circular one looks much better. Remember to try to avoid working in straight lines so that you can avoid any unwanted directional patterns in your work. You’re on the right track!

Robyn – excellent start. I’d say stop where you are and hone in on the skin tones and details with layering, etc.. This is really looking great!

Alison – you continue to bewilder me. Your work so far looks great – you just need to build up some more layers and spend some time on your detailing. You know my opinion of your artistic ability so I know you will do great with this.

I started this message over an hour ago so I’m sure I missed a lot of people… give me time tonight and I’ll get all caught up!

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 08:49 PM
Bard - yes I work in sections but I often do have to go back and adjust things here and there as I move on to new areas. The only person I know who is enough of an artistic freak of nature to work on a section and never return to it is Armin, and I am most definitely not on his level! The adjustments that I have to go back and make are relatively minor though, and usually only amount to some tweaking of the tonality. I think an ancillary benefit of working in sections is that it makes a sort of relationship develop between you and your subject. You almost feel like you know the person when you get a section worked up to where it truly looks alive. I think this pays dividends when it comes to making sure you dont later screw up the likeness. Remember that all that time you spend working on a small section, you are subconsciously recording all kinds of information as you constantly study the reference. This does help, I just don't know how to explain it.

Michele your value scale looks great! You definitely are on track!

Jay excellent news on the comissions. Who's the doctor here anyway? I don't commissions that easily!!!;)

02-01-2006, 09:15 PM
Hi All!:wave:
Sorry to have been absent from this for a while as I was waiting for my paper and now have a MAJOR headcold. At least I can say I haven't spained my thumb. Sorry about that Ken-that has got to be so-o-o frustrating especially right now. Hope it heals quickly for you.
Honestly i have not read the whole thread-just glanced thru-but now will get to particiapate.:) Yipee!

Jeanette-I understand your frustration here. But it truly is a very slow process. Your drawing looks great-it is just not the realism that the class is for.
Try this: sketch out an eye on a paper the same as you are using for your portrait. Now start in slow and just concentrate on that-the eye and a small amount of skin around it.. I did this the other day for a couple of hours and got more excited the more I kept working on it. The skin textures were starting to show and I could start to see what Troy is showing us. I looked at his work and at Armins and I could see where it could lead. Please keep going on this-I KNOW you can do it!

JayD-Congrats on the commissions. :clap: :clap:

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:19 PM
Troy - I am working on the tonal chart and have two questions.

1 - How do you hold the pencil? Normal writing style or vertical?

2 - I am using a .5 mm mechanical pencil, but after a thorough search of every cabinet in the house have only HB leads....found some of every size
3, 5, 7, 9, but all HB. Will that get black enough?


Hey Joe I think you're likely to have a lot of headaches if you try getting good blacks with your hb. It can be done quite effectively in smaller areas but in large areas the decreased intensity will show. If necessary you can use wooden pencils for your black areas in a pinch. You should be able to find 2b leads at just about any officie supply store though, or even wal mart.

I tend to hold my pencil writing style for just about everything I do. Occasionally I'll catch myself doing something else subconsciously, but I never went to art school and thus was never taught about all the different ways to hold the pencil so I usually don't bother with any of that.

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 09:21 PM
Judi I didn't realize you were sick:( Get well soon we need our perspective monkey in tip top shape!:)

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:04 PM
Bernice if I failed to comment on it yesterday I think your line drawing looks good but the angle of the eyeglasses seems a bit off - you may want to take a look at that. Also the line of the cheek on viewer right may need adjusting.

Jay - you obviously understand what I told you about building your tones all that, which is cool, but I forgot to tell you that you're doing a great job on likeness. It is clear that you did an outstanding job on your initial line drawing, which is why that is so important. Don't forget also that since youre doing a self portrait, you have the added advatnage of being able to look in o mirror as an additional reference to help you get all kinds of crazy details into your work!!!

02-01-2006, 10:08 PM
Thanks Troy, I did notice that when I saw my scan and fixed it. Working slowly and should have something to show tomorrow,

02-01-2006, 10:08 PM

Just posting an update on some work that I have done during the day...far from done, Troy working on building those layers, have to admit finding it much easier to control my pencil pressure by just using what I am familiar with. Circulism is very difficult...for me anyway. Hey you guys your work looks great keep at it and conquer (sp) those frustrations :D




Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:09 PM
In the meantime (*until Troy's new computer arrives*) I've printed my line drawing on Bristol smooth and will use it to practice . . .

It's official. It will be here no later than Tuesday, which means at the latest I'll be up and running problem-free Wednesday:clap:

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 10:09 PM
Judi - get better soon!

02-01-2006, 10:17 PM
TY Anita-actually today was so-o-o much better than yesterday. Today I can breathe and sound like myself. Look like a red-nosed reindeer though.

Yay Troy:clap: :clap:

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:21 PM
Ray - as for class length, this one will be at least as long as the cp class. We'll play it by ear. Either way though, you don't need to worry about leaving details undone. This isn't a race by any means. If it takes you five years to finish your portrait of Jonathan Reno then that's fine - the class will still be here!

02-01-2006, 10:26 PM
Hi everyone :wave:. Man, Troy, I feel for you. I know this computer issue at this time is driving you nuts. Everyone knows and understands though I'm sure. I thought I'd go ahead and post where I am on Jokerface. I decided to go with the lighter background, (thank everyone for their input). Just to comment on the topic above....I tend to work in sections also now. Ever since trying to improve my realism I don't do "layers", or the whole drawing at the same time anymore. You'll find your attention to the small details (which is what makes circularism so great, because it can precisely render them) is greatly increased when you take a small "segment" and try to render it fully. I put it this way when I tried to explain it to my wife....if you take an entire (very realistic) drawing with a million details and try to draw it your brain can't handle the tremendous amount of detail, and you miss so much. But if you take a 2" by 2" chunk of that same drawing, and draw that...your brain can now handle 100 details, and you now see...and can now draw them. The other thing about this is "seeing" abstractly. There is no more lip for example to draw (with all it's detail)..but now just dark and light shapes within shapes...just draw what you see. However if you try to draw the whole portrait in layers with circularism be warned, it will go through a very l-o-n-g, ugly stage. (See my old wip on "Loop" for this in action).

Well....errrr....ummmm seems I got a bit sidetracked lol :wink2: Ok, here is the Joker. The "working" area you see is about 5" by 5", and actually would have been smaller but I had to get an "anchor" section with some good solid black/dark. I started in the top left which (with the BG too) is all muddy mid-grays which was getting me all mixed up. It's worth noting EVERYTHING seen rendered is still 'working" ~ like the lower eyelid section I'm really just beginning~. Troy...I do need some help on this (whenever you have time). I'm somewhat lost what to do with the highlight area. Sections of the forehead (in the ref) are like..white. This is the closest to a highlight I have. I don't know what tone to use for these....white won't do. So does that mean I have to "re-key" everything?? I've tried "patting" til almost white (you can still see some), but when I go to try to blend the other skin tone into it (with a VERY light circle wash) it's gets too heavy and wonky looking lol. Maybe I just haven't worked enough tone into the skin (though when I think that, and add..it's way to dark a shade). Thanks (Troy, and everyone).

Bristol smooth


and the ref again (to compare tones...tell me what I'm not seeing)


Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:35 PM
Ray yes you need to slightly intensify each tone so that the areas that appear white in the photo will actually have some tone. It's all relative, so dont' worry about it being too dark. You'll see that it will make a lot of sense when you get further along. In the beginning stages of my armin portrait it looked like I was seriously in danger of getting carried away and getting way TOO dark with the skin tones on the shadow side. In the finished piece, however, it's clear that not only is that NOT the case, but I could have gone considerably darker if I wanted to.

You need more values in your eyebrow there. Looks too perfectly uniform and groomed right now. This is an instance where I'd copy the reference exactly, because it's a simple enough matter in this case.

Cathie Jones
02-01-2006, 10:36 PM
Congratulations on the commission, JayD!!!!

Troy - what kind of computer are you getting no later than next Tuesday?

Here's my frustration. I have no idea how this will look in the post. It seems okay IRL, but the scan is awful. The reason I'm posting is to ask if it's too dark - if you can tell from the scan. DH has light skin, and it's really, really difficult to get it as light on the paper as it is in the crummy photo. I'm also wondering if the wrinkles and eyebrows are done with circulism or lines.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/23460-DJ_WIP.020106.sm.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Feb-2006/23460-DJ.ref.gray.sm.jpg

Edit: Hmmmmmm . . . crossposted with both Ray and Troy. Okay, so I see the eyebrows are lines. What about the wrinkles?? Does mine look so uneven because I only have one layer, or what???

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:46 PM
YEah CJ you are doing fine. Just need more light layers and dab with blu tack if necessary. I wouldnt worry about that just now though (the blu tack part). Like I told Ray above, you actually will want to slightly overstate your values to correct the issue of skin areas of the photo looking white. It may look way too dark to you in the beginning, but when you get more of it developed and start putting your shadowed skin tones in, etc it will make no sense to you(edit- lol I meant to say it will make "more sense to you"). It looks strangely dark to you simply because it is surrounded by white paper right now. On the wrinkles, form those soft edges with the same circular pattern as the rest of your skin. Definitely dont draw lines. Oh I'm getting a Dell CJ:)

02-01-2006, 10:48 PM
Thanks, Guys for the congrats--I am beginning to doubt the choice I made because this session is making me incredibley atuned to my own face:

1. Phenobarbitol Eyes
2. Egads! If I were bald--I'd be a bullethead!!

On the serious side, I would like to add another observation:

I did not like the way the skin was progressing and then I realized that the stark white was serving as a negative distraction. The more tone I add, the less white--the happier I will be when I start on that background.

Troy, will take your advice with the mirror--good idea!! When this is finished I will post my original version of this picture (I did when I first came here) with this one. I wish I had had this class earlier.

I will post some comments on the other folks later--not ignoring you all but these are pretty intense sessions!!

02-01-2006, 10:50 PM
CJ, your encased in a field of snow right now--snow blindness--keep going --it looks great!!!

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 10:52 PM
I missed something about a commission - congrats anyway JayD!

One of these days I might pluck up the courage to post something myself! :eek:

Cathie Jones
02-01-2006, 10:54 PM
1. Phenobarbitol Eyes

Wasn't that a Beatles song??:rolleyes:

Thanks, Troy. I'll keep on truckin'. I love the way this process give texture to the skin!!

WooHoo! We have Dells, but tend to replace them every 3 or 4 years, because our work is so graphics intense, we have to save tons of data, and have more software than any human should have!! You'll love the POWER!

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:56 PM
Anita you mentioned to me a couple of times before the class that you were toying with figuring out circulism. I told you then and will tell you again that if you don't want to post, you can pm me what you have. If I can see it I might be able to help. If I can't, then I can't.:(

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 10:58 PM
CJ I hope youre right but I'm only getting a dimension desktop - certainly nothing fancy. I figure it should operate like a computer on steroids by comparison though, simply by virtue of the fact that it has 512megs of RAM, vs. only 28megs that this piece of crap hp has.

02-01-2006, 10:58 PM
Troy, I have a dell as well (using an acer right now ) and quite a few macs--love my dell--that is the one that I rebuilt myself--you will definitely be pleased with your new computer and GOD help us all when you are up to full speed again!!!! I think you are going easy on us right now!!

Anita--Troy said something earlier that I found to be profound--he said something about not thinking to hard about this process. Dont over analyze it. I am doing a first layer of small circles but the second layer I will come back and tighten everything up. I hope that works--then on to the fun!!!

You are 127 and a half times better then me--so post!!!!!

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 10:59 PM
What size CPU, Troy?

02-01-2006, 10:59 PM
One of these days I might pluck up the courage to post something myself! :eek:

Lady-I have never in my life know anyone with as much courage as you - and successful every time. Take the plunge Anita!

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 11:05 PM
Jay - in my former life I was an evil corporate manager for Citibank (imagine me being evil.) and we had awesome Dell systems, though certainly light years ahead of what I'm getting. That did make me develop a huge love for their products though.

Anita - what size cpu? What do you mean? You have to remember that I know how to sit down and function at a computer, but I know nothing of the technical end whatsoever.:(

02-01-2006, 11:08 PM
Hey everyone... I've been following along with you, and your all doing so well ... good job.:clap: :clap: Here's my update, everything so far has been done in HB and just a tiny amount of B2. The paper is stonehenge smooth side. I'm doing my best to be slow and make very tiny circles. I'm enjoying it because I'm such a detail freak :p .

So here is my first showing of this thread....

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 11:11 PM
How many GHz (CPU Size) does it have? I would guess at about 2.6 - any figures like that floating around?

This thread moves so fast every time I turn round there are another 6 posts!

I'm waiting to get yelled at before I post - prefer the yelling in private! :D

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 11:15 PM
Anita I believe it is 2.0 but I looked at several computers and cant remember for certain which one had what. All of them are a drastic step up from my current one though. Danna that's looking really good! Being a detail freak is good, too!~

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 11:20 PM
Danna I just took a look at the ref again - your eye needs some adjusting. Look at the white of the eye on either side of the iris. Compare the shape of this area on each side between the ref and your drawing and you'll see where you're off. This needs to be fixed or later on his gaze direction is going to look screwy and it will be very difficult and annoying trying to fix it without smearing everything all over the place!

Also make sure you are letting some white of the paper randomly show through on your initial layer of skin. I can't tell from the photo if you are or not.

Anita Murphy
02-01-2006, 11:20 PM
Troy says I have to post.
The skin tones aren't right yet - and photo isn't accurate to the way it is IRL. I think the jacket needs to be darker too. And I forgot to say I'm using Stonehenge and its 16" x 12 "


Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 11:25 PM
And as I told you in pm anita, this is absolutely fantastic. You only need more layers with more deliberate circles to build up texture, fix the tonality as you go along, and when you're done it's going to be as good or better than I would do myself if I were doing this picture.

02-01-2006, 11:31 PM
Anita yours is great... plus it helps to have such a good looking subject. Thank you Troy I see what you're saying about the eye... I will fix it right away (well by tomorrow). I'll work on making it "airy".

Troy Rochford
02-01-2006, 11:56 PM
Dave (mothsailor) - yes please DO get your act together so you can join in! You've been playing hookey lately and it would be good to have you back in with us!

For those who said I better write a book or beatings and force feedings will commence, you screwed up when you got Anita on your bandwagon. I'm not writing jack until she makes good on her threat to come to my house. That way she can bring me my truck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay then.. I think I'm officially caught up now. Not as bad as I thought...

02-02-2006, 12:58 AM
Anita, That is fabulous!!! :D You have a lot of time in this don't you?!

Troy: You didn't tell me to (nor did you tell me not to!) but, I am SO GLAD that I started over!! :), it is looking SO much better, I will post something sometime tomorrow. I can see the different subtle tones like skin shaping up, I'm actually leaving light areas, lol!! Slowing down, using lightness of hand, & layering is doing the trick. Really enjoying the unfolding!

Thanks Again.

02-02-2006, 01:00 AM
Judi Good to see ya here - feel better soon :)

CJ, You are doing good!

Nite folks!:wave:

02-02-2006, 01:21 AM
Sorry. My evil twin, Workdave, has been taking a series of beatings at work this week. A four day vacation is on the horizon, but it is away from home so I will really only be able to do an update (or I guess I should say a start) later tongiht. I hope to make some good progress, but as I know from my other circuism projects, slower is better. I have the felling that my first update will not really be all that impressive. I must say that there are several pieces here already that totally blow my mind. I can see there will be some awesome work posted in this class. Now, if I can only recalibrate my brain and hand into circulism mode once again...

02-02-2006, 03:21 AM
Here is my first update, starting with the line drawing...one and one half hours later. I also posted a close up of the shaded area. I am not happy. I think I may crop and start over. The area that is currectly shaded is only about 1.5 inches across. The face (skin) only really covers about 20% of this entire image. I cannot seem to get the details packed into that little area. Troy, let me know if you think this is the correct thing to do or not. I partly think that I could just be outside of my zone and I should press on anyhow. Then again, I just started and am only getting warmed up. Any thoughts? I am wishing I had more room to draw. My digital image is very high res on my system and there is lots more detail than I could put into this update.





Troy Rochford
02-02-2006, 03:37 AM
Dave it probably would serve you better to work larger but thta's up to you. Right now I'd say you've got too many hard edges making the eye look kind of outlined, and the tonality is a bit flat. I don't know if that's the size or what, but if you feel like it is, then you should probably go with your instincts on that. Btw, what color eyes do you have? You appear to have no pupils in your drawing lol. Are your eyes THAT dark? If so, I'd recommend using some artistic license to lighten them, because that will distract viewers.

Anita if you happen to see this, my Dell's processor info is as follows. Hopefully this is good, but it's greek to me:

Intel Celeron D 325 processor 2.53Ghz, 533 FSB

02-02-2006, 03:41 AM
I think the eyes were a result of the large amount of Bavarian Hops in my system that week.

Actually I have brown eyes and sometimes they are light and sometimes they are so dark that I look like I am full of <ahem> black coffee. I guess sometimes I am. Following my gut, I will crop, and make use of said artistic license.

Nice computer. My eyes are turning green with envy. I better take a photo now before they go brown again. Thanks.

Be back in about five days with a new line drawing and then some.


02-02-2006, 04:15 AM
Thanks for the C&C Troy, I've got a question! Is it acceptable to 'make up' detail that you can't actually see on a ref photo? I don't mean totally reinventing the skin...but I do feel I am adding detail just to get it right for this class...rather than it being for true to life reasons. I'm getting concerned about my subject being offended at the detail I am adding! :evil:

It's easy to see why so many portraits have smooth skinned subjects, especially if they are done from the average (poor) photograph.

Troy Rochford
02-02-2006, 04:28 AM
Alison of course its acceptable to make up whatever you want (for instance, in reality, Armin only has one eye), but you should of course refrain from altering it in such a way that it blows the likeness. Just use your judgment on when and where to add details that might make it more interesting while not radically altering the overall appearance of your subject.

02-02-2006, 04:37 AM
So, would it also be acceptable to reduce signs of aging for instance? Or is that taking things to the extreme of NOT being realistic?

I'm asking because I am genuinely interested in how the whole portaiture thing works.

Troy Rochford
02-02-2006, 04:44 AM
I cant' answer that question Alison because it's your vision, not mine. What are you trying to say with your portrait? If the age of the subject is not a critical element, then I guess you can change that aspect. In the commission world, you of course can NOT go around doing stuff like that though, unless the client wants you to (for example, Armin wanted me to give him the gift of sight in stereo).

02-02-2006, 05:04 AM
I wasn't talking about my portrait persay, but just as a question in general about realistic portraiture. But yes, it would make sense to listen to the clients wishes :D

02-02-2006, 05:27 AM
Jeannette (or anyone else for that matter),
My first attempt at this technique was exceptionally rough and never reached completion. I worked on it for perhaps two weeks but didn't like the textures or the coverage so I changed papers (to stonehenge) and tried it again. The second time I was much more comfortable with the technique and found the entire process to be much more enjoyable with excellent results. So don't lose heart if you feel the need to make a fresh start. I also have reached places in a drawing where I felt it looked somewhat rushed so I went back and spent another 8 hours reworking things to get to a more finished/polished look.

We each work at our own speed, of course, but I'd suggest not trying to put yourself on any sort of schedule as far as progress is concerned. Each drawing takes whatever time it takes you to draw it.

Troy ... I should have something to post this weekend as I've finally got my materials here and my hand is recovering. I'm considering changing the photo (homeless Mike) somewhat rather than copy it directly as I've been doing. I'm thinking his hand is somewhat distracting against his face so I thought perhaps removing it, show more of his face and then have his hood curl around lower down might work. It would challenge me somewhat more to do that and see how well I could build photorealism out of thin air. But I can decide that after I see how the rest of his face comes along. Any thoughts?


02-02-2006, 06:30 AM
Troy - Many thanks for your encouragement. I think my biggest challenge will be avoiding the whole piece falling into the mid tones. I've just been back to look at your work and realise how important it is to emphasise the whites and blacks. My big question is that I am dealing with a baseball cap and some clothing in my reference. Should I continue in circulism for these - which I'm tempted to do because having practised so long I'm afraid if I go to crossing hatching or linear I'm going to lose it again! Then again I don't want him to look like he's wearing leather!

Anita - I gave a gasp of delight when I saw your WIP - I realise it is probably not an unusual reaction to the sight of your son - but I promise, it was a response to your lovely work.


Anita Murphy
02-02-2006, 06:51 AM
Troy - nice computer! You will think you have died and gone to heaven! Perfect for writing that book on! :D

Danna and Robyn - Thank you - he is quite a nice looking boy! :p

02-02-2006, 06:55 AM
So, would it also be acceptable to reduce signs of aging for instance? Or is that taking things to the extreme of NOT being realistic?

I'm asking because I am genuinely interested in how the whole portaiture thing works.
Alison, I've always heard that to be a successful portraitist you must always "flatter" your subject. I've been drawing a friend of mine from a photo I took at Christmas and I've been thinking the same thing. I keep seeing him as he was when younger and want to draw him as I remember him. However, for this exercise, I'm trying to stick to the reference. He may not get to see the finished product. LOL.
Anita, that is soooo good.

02-02-2006, 08:32 AM

Heres a little update from me. My drawing is going very slow... I don't want to mess this up and my college work has started in full swing so I don't get much time either. The lighter layers are a bit darker in real life. My scanner hates me!

Troy, hope your new computer arrives fast!

Reinhard, Ken, Ray - please keep all the tips on the circles business coming....very valuable for a first-timer like me

Anita- You drawing looks awesome! And I have to agree with everyone else, your son is very handsome.

02-02-2006, 08:39 AM
Oops... I forgot to upload the image :rolleyes:


02-02-2006, 08:52 AM
Hi - I think all of you fellas are doing serious and great jobs, and I'm gratefull for all of the usefull tips that are popping up :clap: . As for my self I don't have any genious tips to give, just trying to learn the technique.

I made some background and the cap, hoping this would make it easier to balance the tones. Now I just will keep on working on this upper part, untill I/Troy am/is satisfied.

I'm a little afraid of the highlight areas that I haven't touched yet :wave:

Paper: Smooth Studio A4 size


02-02-2006, 09:03 AM
Troy, I have a question--I was reading Matti's book last night and he started talking about posterization. So I acquired the new Paint Shop Pro which has merged with Corel Draw (it cost only 119 dollars) and posterized my photo. I am no quite clear though on what Matti is talking about--he says that a lot of artists use posterization to plan out their drawings--is this useful? Here is the photo posterize:

02-02-2006, 09:03 AM
I'm plugging away at the same little area, although I am wandering to other areas as I'm finding it helpful with getting my darks. Most importantly! I think I am starting to get the technique now as I'm starting to see 'skin' texture forming within the circles.

I've realised that maybe I wasn't using circulism with the self portrait and Jeanette, but some form of 'loopism'! (Or maybe that IS circulism...and what I am doing now is all wrong! :confused: ) I realised what I was doing was different because when my pencil touched the paper, dragonshade's words of '...tapping the paper...' came into my head. The way I am moving the pencil makes me think of it making little tapping sounds as the circles are formed.


This section definately IS NOT finished (I haven't posted anything yet that I thought was finished). But am I barking up the right tree, Troy?

Oh it's Bristol and mech/pencil .5mm 2b.

Anita Murphy
02-02-2006, 09:17 AM
Shalaka, Karsten - looking good!

JayD - interesting - maybe it gives you the tonal values in those areas, roughly? I had heard of using gaussian blur for painting portraits - you start with a vague outline and then reduce the blur to add more detail and so on until you are adding the smallest details.

Alison - I definitely think its one of those things where it looks bad until it looks good. Have you ever done sponging in home decorating? The first layer looks awful but the second pulls it all together. I think this is the same. Maybe! :D

Shalaka - thank you for commenting on my son.

Michele - I forgot to say - so far this about 34 hours.

02-02-2006, 10:04 AM
JayD I'm going to pop in here to sayearlier in the thread Ken mentioned posterizing and then later Troy had something to say about it. Go back and read what he said and his reasoning, but if I had the gist of it correctly, Troy would prefer that we don't use this method at this time. Hoping I read it right, or I'll be sent to the corner for sure! LOL :)

02-02-2006, 10:07 AM
Anita, you have a son!! Boy I dont pay attention very well--I thought he looked a little like Dudley Do Right and that he was a mountie that you pulled out of the reference libray--that drawing needed to be posted--Troy was absolutely right on the money there!! I expect to see shiny metal buttons!

By the way, you have a very handsome son--just ask my daughter!!

02-02-2006, 10:08 AM
Shalaka: You are doing beautiful work on this :)

02-02-2006, 10:08 AM
emme--thanks--I am having trouble keeping up with the speed of this thread and I am fine with not using posterization since I dont clearly understand it anyway!!

Alison, I am really loving your rendering!!!

02-02-2006, 10:10 AM
Karsten--that is a great drawing--the likeness is dead on!!!

02-02-2006, 10:15 AM
JayD: I Found it for you!! How rude of me to say somewhere in this thread, this thread is HUGE already! :cat: I just think his reasoning is good (don't tell Troy I said that:wink2: )

Ken and everyone- while I agree that the posterize function is useful as a tool while you work, I do not want it used for the purpose of creating the grayscale because it is based on a computer approximation and oversimplification of tones. I want you guys to look at a printout of your actual reference photo and match your tones that way - otherwise you are going to confuse yourselves if you try to match them to a posterized version of your ref in photoshop. Also remember that this is not a required step in the process anyway, but rather a suggestion. However, if you do it, I think it would be better to compare your values to the actual reference rather than some altered photoshop version thereof.

02-02-2006, 10:29 AM
It makes sense--in the opening Basic 101 clasess-grids, tracing, compasses,seeing eye dogs are not allowed--I wanted the students to get a feel for drawing before playing with the power tools--Troy wants us to keenly observe.

Ok here is my update--again working into the wee hours of th night. I stepped back for a second after some private advice from others--and pulled out the ol magnifier lamp. My new rule is if I can see circles under the magnifier then the circles are not tight enough--so I have applied a second layer over the nose, under the eyes ect... I worked on the moustache because it was beckoning me! The start of the hair at the top was because I was beginning to doze off and my hand started jerking so I switched to the hair to exploit the jerking motion. Anyway, here is my update:

02-02-2006, 10:36 AM
Looking Good JayD, nice stache, how are you dong that? Lines and then some circles for shading? And RU Kidding? you don't see circles under the magnifier?! What are they pin size? Or do you mean after layers they should disappear? Have an appt, until later fellow students :)

02-02-2006, 10:51 AM
Well, Jeanette posted this in her comments on the thread--again lost in the jungle--but the circles have to be very tiny--almost the circumference of the lead itself--that is why Troy is saying not to rush--if you rush the circles are getting bigger and bigger and then you have to do it all over again--Am I saying this correctly Master PO Rochford?!!!

Regarding my stache--by going what Troy said about using a mirror for a self portrait--I wont have much work to do on it since I am pretty much starting to go white with the hair anyway--but to answer your question--shapes, shadows then lines. Work big with the hair and then put in the details.

02-02-2006, 11:43 AM
Time to check in. I thought I might be going too dark but now I can see that I'm not dark enough. Glasses still not quite right. I might start over. It looks like the eyes have been overworked. 9 x 12 on Bristol smooth.

02-02-2006, 12:24 PM
Bernice! That is really nice!!! have fun with that sweater!!!:evil:

Troy Rochford
02-02-2006, 01:05 PM
Ken - sounds good. The only thoughts I have are that I agree with you. Personally I don't think the hand looks like it even belongs in that photo - the skin quality even looks different, like its a doctored photo or something...its weird looking. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

Robyn - its up to you but personally I think that unless you're doing something stylized like a certain pen and ink technique, it's a bad idea to use the same technique for everything in your drawing. I think its important to take advantage of the fact that you can use different techniques to establish a greater contrast between elements in your composition. That's precisely why I used circulism for the scarf on that dachsund that I did. I thought a very soft circular technique cotnrasted more dramatically with the linear, coarse texture of the fur.

Troy Rochford
02-02-2006, 01:09 PM
Alison, I've always heard that to be a successful portraitist you must always "flatter" your subject.

I've read this in books written by artists quite a few times, and in my personal experience I'd have to say its nonsense! When I started doing commissioned portraits, I started fixing teeth, softening wrinkles, etc because I was following the principle I'd read about. With one exception, every single client was a little put off by the fact that I took it upon myself to do that. I've found that they will usually tell you if they want changes made. Now I just ask them without being specific so as not to insult them.