View Full Version : Portrait demo on Drafting Film

02-02-2007, 01:59 AM
Hi all :D I'm busily working on a portrait demo for my blog and so I thought I'd post it as I go here as well. This is a headstudy (8x10) I'm doing for a larger piece I want to do that'll be 16x20, both will be on drafting film using derwent artists and polychromos pencils. Here's the first step, basically just laying down the brightest highlights in white before moving on to anything else ;)


02-02-2007, 02:01 AM
Oh I am so going to love this one! Pulling up a comfy chair with a cuppa tea. Derwents totally rock!

02-02-2007, 02:35 AM
Wow...what a great start! Thanks for posting a WIP of this protrait!!

02-02-2007, 04:38 AM
Yeah - another Wendy demo!

I was thinking about doing a portrait on film, so this will come in handy.
Is this your daughter?


02-02-2007, 04:53 AM
I am looking forwards to seeing you do this Wendy , looks great so far!


02-02-2007, 06:21 AM
Thanks guys, hope you like it! Yep Amira, it's my daughter....again LOL :D She's the only one who'll pose for me so often hehe :)

02-02-2007, 10:29 AM
Off to a great start I see! I love the fact that she is looking away from the viewer. I use derwents too and am waiting for my polychromos to arrive the 1st of March ( folks bringing 'em back from the US for me - yay!!)

02-02-2007, 11:11 AM
Isn't it amazing how much we can "see" even with just the white highlights so far.


02-02-2007, 12:08 PM
I want to get better at people portraits so I'm really thrilled that you're posting this. Thanks Wendy!
Great start so far. :)

02-02-2007, 05:42 PM
Yay! :clap: Thank you for doing this, it might give me the push to get off my butt and start doing one :)

02-02-2007, 09:18 PM
Gorgeous already - just in white, Wendy!! I'm totally in awe - since you've taught us that drafting film only accepts a couple of layers, how do you get the great skin tones we've seen in your finished pieces, when it takes the rest of us mortals 20+ layers?


02-02-2007, 10:05 PM
Looking forward to this one. :)

02-03-2007, 12:07 AM
It's amazing what a few highlights do isn't it? :D I never used to begin my portraits this way but now I put in the highlights first just because I love the way it looks LOL :d

Holly, what I'm hoping I can show you with this that it's been really hard to show in other drafting film portrait pieces (because the face is often quite small since I usually do full figure portraits) is that rather than doing loads of layers, I tend to do lots of little lines of colour that blend together, almost like optical mixing, on drafting film. It's hard to explain but hopefully I can show you as I go along. It's a very very different technique to how I do animals on film so I thought it'd be interesting to show :) Speaking of which I better go do some :D

02-03-2007, 07:15 AM
Speaking of which I better go do some

Yes you should...

May attempt a person soon. Friend snapped a *fab* pic of hubby last time his band played. All rock-star cool... And I'd love to do it. But haven't the first *clue* about actually pulling it off...

Pulling up a chair. :wave:


02-03-2007, 09:17 AM
Thanks for the explanation of your techinique, Wendy - it will be wonderful to see it in action! And thanks for taking time and effort to give us a wip.


02-03-2007, 09:23 AM
It's amazing what a few highlights do isn't it? :D I never used to begin my portraits this way but now I put in the highlights first just because I love the way it looks LOL :d

I always start with the mid-tones. There's something really cool about reserving the big bang stuff til last. But you have suffer through it looking dowdy for a time.

02-03-2007, 02:04 PM
Love the way you've begun this! It's a powerful image just as is.


02-03-2007, 09:14 PM
Thanks guys :D Sorry it's taken me awhile to get back :D

You know Tommy, I used to do it that way but darned if I have the patience to wait for a big finish, plus with the drafting film it's really hard to lights to come in over the top of what you've already done, impossible in fact. So really you have to get in your lightest lights before you start anything else or you'll never get them. You can go darker, but going lighter is virtually impossible. Very frustrating sometimes, but you just have to plan around it a bit ;)

So here's where I'm up to now, the next few steps. You'll see the marks that I make are mostly light hatch marks rather than even trying to blend, because on film, blending really isn't much of an option. So what I do is build up very light layers of hatch marks to get the colour and tone I want.

There's loads been done on eyes before so I haven't shown my steps there, and I'm doing a lips demo sometime soon so I haven't shown that either, but it's fairly self evident if you look closely anyways :) I use the same colours on the lips as the rest of the skin.

The first step now, is to put a thin area of polychromos light flesh right next to the white highlight, another area of poly medium flesh next to that (in a strong lighting situation you often find light flesh tones right on the edge of the highlight, a glowy pink beside that and then the very darkest of the dark skin tones will be right next to that.

My next step is similar what Tommy was talking about. I cover the rest of the piece in a very light layer of poly cinnamon which is usually my midtone of choice for light skinned subjects. As you can see by the closeup, it's a messy apllication, but that's all it needs to be :) It's just a place to begin.


Next I begin on the shadowing. In this case, I'm using derwent blue grey for the bluer shadows and polychromos indian red and purple (which is really just a burgundy with a little blueish tone to it) for the shadows. I start to work in light cross hatching building up the depth.

Now I add in some derwent indigo and derwent chocolate to deepen those shadows some more, working in layers with these two colours and the previous colours as well. Because you can't blend with drafting film I take the layers quite lightly and build up to achieve the effect I want. Even after you've got the layers as far as you think you can push it, you can still affect the colour, even if it seems burnished, so long as you're not trying to go lighter. But at this stage I still have tons of light layers left.


As you can tell, the lines are pretty obvious and they will stay pretty much that way. The effect will never be perfectly smooth on film, and I quite like that effect. It will end up smoother than it currently looks, but never as perfectly finished as you'll get on hotpress paper. But I really like that, the finished effect is great, if you're close to the picture you can see all the marks but if you stand back, it looks perfectly smooth and natural, and that's perfect as far as I'm concerned.

Back with more later! :)

02-04-2007, 05:49 AM
You'll see the marks that I make are mostly light hatch marks rather than even trying to blend, because on film, blending really isn't much of an option. So what I do is build up very light layers of hatch marks to get the colour and tone I want.

Sounds like a simularity to doing egg tempra........ at least as Robert Vickery does it...

As always, you're doing terrific work here..... love this WIP..... :thumbsup:

02-04-2007, 08:00 AM
What an interesting technique to use on the drafting film. I like how it's developing and I'm looking forward to the next steps. Thanks for such a complete and clear explanation. I'm rating this thread so it's easy to find in the future.

the lines are pretty obvious and they will stay pretty much that way. The effect will never be perfectly smooth on film, and I quite like that effect.
I'm not "bothered" by it not being perfectly smooth close up either, as long as it looks right from a distance. This will give a totally different "look" to the drafting film than we have seen on other examples. Versatile stuff!


02-04-2007, 08:25 AM
Wendy...this looks beautiful....are you doing any of this on the back?

02-04-2007, 08:59 AM
Wendy, this is looking fantastic! You're such a pro!

02-04-2007, 04:53 PM
Wendy, you're so generous to share all this with us. Thanks! I'm just sitting here wide-eyed with my mouth open, watching. (The smiley for that is too gross to show.)

02-04-2007, 07:09 PM
Robert - that's cool, I'll have to check out his work! It's rather nice to know it's a technique that makes some sense at least!

Thanks Anne! It is really versatile stuff, you do have to adapt your working style a bit for it and it takes some getting used to but I just love the effects you can get on it. Plus it's way easier to store than most things LOL :D I can get twenty times as many sheets of film in my portfolio than hotpress paper heheh :D

Margaret - thankyou :D Well I haven't done anything on the back ...YET but I probably will do. I usually end up doing some things on the back. Mostly I decide as I go along and see what it needs. Plus it really helps to darken things that just won't darken how I want them to!

Aww thanks Janet!

Hahaha Herb, that's a truly worrisome thought, it doesn't sound like a smiley we need hehehhehee :D

02-04-2007, 07:29 PM
Terrific work Wendy...once again!!
Thank you so much for the wip and all you share:thumbsup: .
Thanks, and checking in!

02-04-2007, 08:50 PM
Thanks Cindy! I'm honestly just glad to help. I really like sharing this sort of thing and it means a lot to me if anyone finds it useful. I know how much I appreciated help when I first started out....and every single day since, so I really get a lot out of giving something back too :D

02-04-2007, 09:45 PM

This is the book am referring to..... tho have seen actual works of his some years ago, when there was an exhibit here over in St Pete... he works BIG - makes mine look small - :lol:

02-04-2007, 11:35 PM
Oh thanks Robert, I'll check that out. I'm really interested in egg tempera painting, I've been looking into it for quite awhile ;D

Here's my latest update. What I've done here is to cover the whole skin area in cinnamon for my mid tone, then begin adding more derwent blue grey and purple and indian red polychromos to darken the values. Under the hair I've used a little derwent chocolate and poly terracotta to deepen the values and counteract the coolness the skin tone has going. I've also put in some of the hair in order to help keep a check on the values around the hairline and in the overall piece so that it doesn't get out of hand too much. Having something nearby to compare it to helps to keep track of where I'm going. She has some new red streaks in her hair so that's what the orangey bits in there are about :) It looks very cool too :D Her left eye needs to be darkened yet as well, I'm waiting to see how it looks compared to the rest of the values and I work through it :)

As you can see, things are still looking like chicken scratchings but it will improve and it definitely loses that look when you stand a few feet away :)



02-05-2007, 12:56 AM
Those are mighty fine chicken scratchings! It's really developing beautifully! There's a lot of character already apparent in the face.


02-05-2007, 09:18 AM
This is looking wonderful. I LOVE the hair so far. :wave: Wanda

02-05-2007, 11:57 AM
This is such a creative way to work on the film and mix colors without many layers. It's almost as if you were working in pen and ink. The end result is beautiful.

Thanks for this great thread Wendy.


02-05-2007, 02:13 PM
This is a great WIP! I'm saving this one in my favorites. I plan to get some drafting film soon and I'll be glad to have this WIP to refer back to! :)

02-05-2007, 02:31 PM
Hi Wendy: Lovely start to your coloured pencil piece, I dabble in it a little myself...but you are miles ahead of me. I've done portraits in other mediums and one of my dog Ginger in coloured pencil...just loved doing her, she's such a pretty girl. I can't wait to see more of your wip...

02-05-2007, 06:59 PM
Thanks Sanford! :) The funny thing is, I'm working on studying Van Gogh and his works at the moment as part of a project with a few others via blogging. Anyways, learning about him has already profoundly changed my work. I didn't mean this to be a part of my VG project but he's had such an effect on me it already is. I did always do my drafting film portraits this way but my technique has gotten more original I think :D

Thanks Wanda! :D

Thanks Anne :D That's the thing about film, you have to be a little inventive to make it work for you hehe :D That's a good thing though, it leads you in directions you didn't expect :D

Thanks Brattgirl (sorry forgot your name darnit!)

Lovely job Selket! :D

02-05-2007, 08:37 PM
WOW, Wendy, I'm so excited to watch this develop. I've never done a portrait so this will be a real education in many ways. Thanks so much for the lesson. What is drafting film, and where do you get it? Is it what your final piece is on?


02-06-2007, 11:11 PM
Hi Karen :D If you check out the link in my sig line to the drafting film article, I've got a lot of info in there you can see :D Well at least, all the info I know! :D And yep, that's what my finished piece will be on, I love the stuff, almost everything I do these days is on film :D

Here's an update. The skin tone is pretty near done now. I know it still looks like chicken scratchings up close, so I've added in a distance shot to give you an idea of how it looks in context, from a distance. I like the effect :D I've just got to adjust it when everything else is done to make sure I've got the right tone on it. Oh, and I know it's a little odd blurring out her face on the ref photo in the distance...oddly enough I'm just a little odd about putting photo's of the girl I put in most of my portraits on the net...silly I know but somehow paintings don't feel quite the same as photo's ;D




02-06-2007, 11:12 PM
Oh and thanks to maggie, I'm thinking of lightening her lips, they're a bit too red and aging her, on the top lip :) thanks Mags :D

02-07-2007, 01:36 AM
Good grief, Wendy, I almost missed this!! Glad I caught you "in the act", have pulled up a chair, if the other enthusiasts will allow! Thanks for sharing another of your marvelous techniques!!!!

02-07-2007, 10:47 AM
looks like ye do the rendering from same size as reference photo.......

02-07-2007, 04:57 PM
LOl Suzi, it wouldn't be the same without ya! :D

I do for 8x10's that's for sure Robert :d If it's larger I still use the same sized reference (that being all the printer will spit out for me:D) I'd love one of those printers that can do larger format :D

02-07-2007, 06:58 PM
WOW Wendy, it's great your taking the time to share this. Your strokes are so soft and that hair...ya gotta love that hair. I'm very curiors about drawing on film. I really have to remember to pick some up. And JEEZ are you tidy! When I'm drawing my pencils look like I'm getting ready to start a fire.

02-07-2007, 10:13 PM
hahaha Tazz, trust me it only looks that way for MOMENTS every few weeks or so. I had a bit of a cleaning frenzy for an hour or two there when I realised I'd just gone out and bought a half a dozen pencils I already had more than two of....simply because it was so darn messy I couldn't find any. Trust me, I'm far more of the "starting a fire" variety myself ! :D I can never find ANYTHING. Every so often I'll get a visitor and be thoroughly embarassed about the state of my table and clean like a mad woman. It never lasts though!

02-08-2007, 04:43 PM
Can undrstand the buying what you already have.:lol:
My hubby threatens to invite company over when he feels the house has had enough "artisit time off".:lol:
I love how this portrait is coming along! Great work as always! I always love the colors you're able to use and the depth they result in.
Thank you,

02-09-2007, 03:17 PM
I am following this thread, having been very sick lately, and I see girl, girl, girl and then she changes into a dog named Ginger! OOOPS! Anyway, thought i zapped myself into the wrong thread!

Wendy, what a wonderful demonstation--worth the watch

Selkat51--your Ginger should me my Bailey! He is a Shetland Sheepdog as well.

02-09-2007, 08:42 PM
LOL Cindy!

Haha JayD , we aim to surprise around here! :D Gla dyou liked it, I hope you're feeing better?

Sorry about the delay in the finish guys. I have a big party to attend all day today but I'll try and get the finish posted tonight! :D

02-10-2007, 09:46 PM
How dare you have a life outside your art ...LOL:lol: :lol: :lol:
Go, ...have a blast!!! We'll all wait!!!
Well worth it:)

02-11-2007, 06:40 AM
hehe you know, I barely do I'm so obsessive, normally anyways :D But party's that are catered with lots of yummy food...well for that I make exceptions! It was very flash and we even had people bringing round the food to us in the garden, very fun indeed!

Well finally...I'm finished! I don't think I've ever managed to drag out the suspense this long! And for all that, there's really n ot a lot to tell in the finish :D

What I've done since the last instalment was to finish the hair, I kept it very light and blonde or red where the light hits it on top and on her fringe and darkened it out at the back, using the darkness in her skin tone as a guide to get it right. I did her clothese nice and simply and her arms so's not to draw too much attention away from her face.

I decided I'd like the dark side of her skin to be darker and I had no tooth left on the top of the surface to make much of a difference, so I did an "underpainting" of sorts on the back of the film on the dark side of her face, using dark helio turquoise by polychromos. It darkened it nicely.

I did the background in the same turquoise adding in some indigo for depth and darkness. All this had the unexpected effect of really bringing out the turquoise I'd put in the underpainting. I was really pleased about that, before the background went in you could see the skin tone was darker but wouldn't have realised it was turquoise :)

So that's pretty much it guys! I hope that it helped in some way :) the final pictures I've done on the scanner so you've got a really clear view of what's going on. If you'd like closer shots of anything, do let me know and I'll put them in.

the thing I'm the most pleased about with this drawing isn't how it looks close up at all, it's the way you see it from across the room. I love that things get less clear the closer you get :)

I really hope this has been of use to someone out there!



02-11-2007, 06:53 AM
Very helpful, Wendy! Thank you! It's going in my favorites...

How important is it, do you think, to keep the majority of the "chicken scratches" going the same way? Just thinking I'd be really tempted to let the pencil strokes follow the contours of the face...

Tell your daughter she's lovely & exceedingly patient!


02-11-2007, 07:02 AM
Funny you should say that Tess :) I don't think it's important at all what direction you do your scratchings in, I just tended to head in one direction at times because I couldn't be bothered moving my hand *blush*. But what you're saying is exactly the way I'd like to do it (I got that from studying van gogh recently) and I'd like to try getting the marks following the contours of the face.

I will tell her, thankyou! Although I'm not sure she needs any more ego hehe. If it weren't for chocolate bars and her wanting to show her portraits to her friends, I'm not sure I'd ever be allowed to use her image :D

02-11-2007, 07:20 AM
Thanks for this wonderful thread Wendy.

I am more concerned with how a piece looks from a distance as well. The contrast in the perceived detail from a distance the real level of detail close up is very enlightening.

I think there's lots of helpful information here, even if you aren't drawing on drafting film. The techniques would be useful for any smooth surface that doesn't take a lot of layers.

I think in some ways this is similar to Ann Kulberg's "vertical line technique" that she uses for her backgrounds. Give the impression that there is a lot more detail than there is. :D


02-11-2007, 08:38 AM
the thing I'm the most pleased about with this drawing isn't how it looks close up at all, it's the way you see it from across the room. I love that things get less clear the closer you get :)

I do too. I love to have something interesting to look at when you get close to the piece. This has all these lovely colorful strokes to enjoy.

Well done Wendy!

02-11-2007, 09:14 AM
What is that old saying about "dimple in chin, devil within?" I would bet your daughter is a bit of a character!! Lovely work, Wendy, and I look forward to doing a portrait study using your technique. I am waaaaaay behind, right now, haven't had a chance for a bit to pick up a pencil for more than a couple quick studies, and I am Jonesing!!!!!

02-11-2007, 07:34 PM
Thanks Anne :) That's exactly the sort of thing I'm going for, giving the impression there's more detail than there is.

Thanks Tommy, I quite like the idea of people getting up close and being curious as to how it looks so detailed from a distance :D

LOL Suzi, you couldn't be more right about that! Character is an understatement believe me, she's a hard case (that's character in kiwi speak - not hard nosed criminal like it is in britain hehe) with more personality than I can cope with sometimes :D

02-11-2007, 08:53 PM
Wendy absolutally beautiful!
I really love this, will definatley rate.
Thank you so much...and I always learn something from your wips!
glad you had fun!

02-11-2007, 10:29 PM
Anytime Cindy! :)

02-11-2007, 11:33 PM
Another great piece, Wendy! clap:clap: