View Full Version : "Just the Two of Us"--A Portrait WIP (skin tones & hair)

07-10-2002, 11:11 PM
Since there have been so many questions about skin tones and portraiture lately, I thought I'd do progress pics with color explanations on my latest CP piece.

Now, for the record, I'd like to state that I'm no expert or authority. This is only the second CP portrait that I've ever done. However, it will give you an idea of how I work and if you don't like it or it turns out awful, then you will know what NOT to do. :)

So, let's start with the ref pic. This will be my second entry for this month's Double Portrait art project.

Here's the image I am using (after cropping it)...

07-10-2002, 11:27 PM
I love to do portraits that speak to me on an emotional level, so I find myself enchanted with double portraits. I like to find out all I can about the subject when doing a portrait because it is so important that I try to convey the emotion. So, I asked Mary Jane (photographer45) for some information about the two. The woman is named Karen. Her husband died when she was pregnant with her first and only son. I always like to have a title in my head when I start. I decided this one will be called "Just the Two of Us." That may change when I finish it, but that's how I catalog it in my head right now.

It is 16" by 20" on Stonehenge with Prismacolor CPs. My husband says that I am insane for working CP this size, but I need to start testing my stamina for larger pieces.

At this point, I have laid out my most basic shapes in graphite. I have erased some and gone over them in very light CP lines. I follow Ann Kullburg's method of skin tones, for the most part. It's not the only way to do it, but I like her method.

The background has Tuscan Red in the darkest areas. I've laid in Goldenrod where the pine branches will be and covered all of it with a layer of Chartreuse.

On the boy's face, I have defined some of the darks with a light layer of Peach and applied light washes of Cream and Light Peach.

On the mother's face, I have defined the darks with a light layer of Peach and Marine Green. Then, I applied the light washes of Cream and Light Peach.

It's not much to look at right now and there is a LONG way to go.

07-11-2002, 12:23 AM
I was thinking of doing the same potrait with cp but I was not sure if I could do big size with cp. You got me first. You are braver than me. ;) I love this photo very much, I love it even more after learning the sad story of the lady and her son. The photo tells many stories. She is a beautiful lady and she looks educated. Mary Jane took many great photos.
I was wondering why there was nobody using this photo for the project, so I am glad you did Elankat. I look forward to see your final result. I will visit you everyday. ;) I like the title you choosed for this potrait, very touching.

07-11-2002, 08:47 AM
LeAnne, I think this is going to be so beautiful. I can't wait to see the completed portrait. Thanks for showing us the progress pics. That is so sad about this lady. This picture is so touching, and your title is perfect.

07-11-2002, 09:28 AM
Well, I don't know. This may take longer than I thought. I cropped the portrait more when I drew it on to my sheet. I didn't really mean to. I just sort of did it too big and ran out of room. Now that I'm looking at the original crop that I intended, I'm thinking I don't like the one I have.

If I keep going, it will end up looking like this...

What does everyone think? Should I keep it like this or start over and use my original crop? I'm afraid this one looks too much like "floating heads."

07-11-2002, 09:38 AM

This is going to be fun watching the progress. The reference photo is beautiful and I'm sure your painting will be as well. Thanks for posting the progress for us.

:D :D

07-11-2002, 09:57 AM
Thanks to everyone who has responded. I'm interested to see how this develops. Hopefully, people will enjoy watching the process.

Crazy me, but I'm really leaning toward restarting this. I can't shake the nagging feeling I have about the composition. I'd rather trash 5 hours of work rather than hate it when I finish.

Here's another composition I'm considering. But it may be too balanced. *sigh* I don't know what to do about this. I'll have to think on it some more.


07-11-2002, 10:07 AM

I think I like the third crop the best but I would hate to see you start all over again, I know how hard that must be.:( The reason I like the third one is it doesn't have the little boys head cropped off.


07-11-2002, 11:46 AM
Yeah, I should have just erased and redrew in the graphite when I discovered I was drawing too large, but got lazy. It's been bugging me ever since.

07-11-2002, 12:36 PM
here's my suggestion...it brings the focal point off center...actually looking at it now...i think i'd still add a bit more to the left side like in your third crop, but keep the top and right side the way i showed it.

07-11-2002, 12:52 PM
Thanks for the input Arlene. :)

I knew it was bugging me and I knew it was different from what I intended, but I just talked myself into not redrawing it. I just needed to hear others confirm that nagging doubt I had.

Yes, the third crop centers the focus a tad too much for my taste, so I'll play around with it and to get closer to what you've suggested.

I'm thinking something like this...

07-11-2002, 03:58 PM
I think I like the last crop and Arlene's the best, but I'm confused, are you going to start over? Like you said "I'd rather trash 5 hours of work rather than hate it when I finish" It's best to do what feels right to you.

07-11-2002, 04:08 PM
i like everything about your last crop except the arm moving out of the picture...can you draw it without the arm? if you crop the way I suggested with just a bit more on the left to make it a true rectangle I think you'd have it...

the arm downward is not where you want your eye to travel.

07-11-2002, 05:26 PM
I like the first crop and Arlene's suggestion the best. I can't decide between the two.

07-11-2002, 06:13 PM
I like the original crop at the top of the thread.

Good luck with this! :) Its a beautiful photo!

07-11-2002, 07:05 PM
You brave girl you :D Whatever you choose, I'm looking forward to watching :D Keep us posted okay? :D:clap:

07-12-2002, 09:35 PM
I can't wait to see what you do with this as well. I am taking on another of the double portrait challenges(I think you did it in graphite). Good luck! Can't wait to see more :D

07-13-2002, 01:39 AM
just surfing through and found this idea you have for a picture.

Now I know why your greatest work is your son.

He looks great.

Keep your tip drawing!!!


07-13-2002, 02:51 AM
LeAnne this is such a beautiful photo. Take your time and make sure you are happy with it from the beginning. It is too good to waste. Is this you and your little boy? If so than that makes it even more special. This is going to be beautiful I know when you are done.


07-14-2002, 01:48 AM
Well, I did decide to start this over. The new crop is somewhere near the first crop and Arlene's suggested crop. I drew a tad larger than I should have, but it should be much closer. I should have a new progress shot tomorrow. I hate throwing out over 5 hours of work, but I'll be much happier with this. Thanks to everyone who gave their input.

Norsky and Lenore, this is not my son and me. The woman is named Karen. There is a little bit of information on her in my second post in this thread. The picture is one of the reference photos in the Double Portraits art project on WetCanvas. This boy is definitely adorable, but my son is the cutie pie in my tinyhead. :D

StalkstheDawn...Yes, I did the portrait of Twyla and Conner in graphite. That was my first entry for the Double Portrait project. I just had to do another one because I didn't want to decide on just one picture. I saw that you started that one. Good luck to you. It's a challenging pose, but definitely worth the effort. :)

07-14-2002, 11:40 PM
Well, here's what I have so far on the new crop. I will try my best to remember what I've done so far on it. Oh, and I am very erratic in the way I work, so don't try and figure out a system. In general, I try and do the dark areas of the piece first, but if I get bored, I just move to some other spot.


1) Mother's face--Darker values established with Peach and Marine Green.

2) Boy's face--Darker values established with Peach and a touch of Marine Green. Irises filled with Celadon Green and Blue Cloud. Pupil filled with Black and Indigo Blue. Indigo Blue on iris rim.

3) Boy's arm shaded with Peach.

4) Mother's hair given a light wash of Cream.

5) Dark Umber placed in some of the darkest values of the boy's hair.

6) Boy's shirt has pattern established in Cloud Blue. Some Indigo Blue in the shadows.

7) Background in progress. This is what I've done on the bottom section...Tuscan Red in dark areas and Goldenrod on the branches. Then, a wash of Chartreuse. True Green, Marine Green, and Dark Green in the medium and dark values. Black in the darkest areas. Then, burnished with Yellow Chartreuse over all of it. Added more Dark Green, Black, and Marine Green in appropriate areas.

I think that's it for now. There's about 12 to 13 hours of work in it (including the first 5 hours that I trashed).

07-16-2002, 01:35 AM
Next progress shot:


Worked on the upper portion of the background. Added Dark Umber to background. I think I'm pretty much finished with it. The image looks a touch darker than the actual background. I started using vertical strokes and I like the look. They aren't showing up in the image.

Placed more Dark Umber in the boy's hair. Defined the light areas with by leaving the paper blank. Started the mid-values with Goldenrod and Rosy Beige washes.

07-17-2002, 12:49 AM
Okay. Next portion. I'm at about 20 hours of work now.


Let's see if I remember this.

I have started building the values in the mother's face (obviously).

1) Light wash of Cream.
2) Light wash of Light Peach.
3) Light wash of Pink Rose.
4) Light wash of Mineral Orange in all sections except strongest highlights.
5) Rosy Beige applied and modeling of features started.
6) Blush Pink applied at cheek highlights
7) Pink applied on most of face (except highlight areas) with varied pressure for modeling
8) Facial modeling is in progress of being developed further by building darks in Henna and Dark Umber.

I'm not entirely pleased with the skin tones, but I'll wait until I have done more work until passing judgement. I've only done light burnishing, but I'm feeling the urge to give it a good burnish here soon. It's just not looking smooth enough for me, but I'm going to do a couple more washes and modeling of the darks first. Definitely need to put some yellows in.

Oh, and I applied a layer of Black and a layer of Dark Umber over the darks in the boys hair.

Also, the lips have been washed with Pink Rose and modeling has started with Henna.

07-17-2002, 07:07 PM
Okay. I guess part of this process of showing a WIP should be to show it in all it's ugly glory. I'm working on the mother's face and I realize..."This looks like absolute pooey." So, in the interest of letting people learn with me, I'll post it. *heavy sigh*

I've burnished with Cream and layered more Henna and Pink into areas. Started layering some Tuscan Red and Light Umber into some shadow areas.


No need for advice. I know what's wrong with it. :)

As I'm looking, I realized that the face was too wide and the eyes were out of alignment. So, to confirm it, I did an overlay in Photoshop. It's good that I did because I was thinking the problem was her left eye (our right) being too low, but the problem is her right eye is too high. Seems I was also right about the face being too wide at the eye. So, I guess I'll be testing my skills at erasing CP. Not looking forward to this. On a good note, the rest of the face features are pretty close to where they should be.


And of course, I'll also be adjusting and working on the skin tones more. Right now, I'm not very happy with how grainy they are looking. I'll judge them when I get the face fixed and the darks all in.

07-17-2002, 07:21 PM
WOW, I still say you are brave :) I would put this one in the 'too hard basket' ;) Thanks for sharing this with us LeAnne. :clap:

07-17-2002, 09:30 PM
Thanks Elankat for posting the step by step process of your painting. I will keep checking your post.

Best regards,

07-18-2002, 11:31 AM
****watches progress with bulged out eyes and jaw on floor****

07-18-2002, 04:13 PM
Hey LeAnne,

Thanks for sharing all this, I'm really learning a bunch from it. I personally haven't tried people yet, with all the info I'm getting from this forum, I just might give it a try. I just love this forum!!!!:D :D :D


07-18-2002, 05:11 PM
Thanks to everyone for the encouraging responses. Sometimes it isn't easy to bare a WIP...particularly one that is not going smoothly. I'm not confident how this will turn out, but like I said, if it's bad then you'll know what NOT to do. :D

In the interest of those with slow connections, I'm continuing this in a new thread. I'm afraid that too many images will slow it up.

You can see the continuation here. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=50825)

07-19-2002, 06:19 PM
elankat, you said

So, to confirm it, I did an overlay in Photoshop. It's good that I did because ::

i would like to learn how to do that but i don't know if i have the correct programs for it. i have iPhoto plus and Adobe photo deluxe.

when you have some time available, could you please direct me how to achieve an overlay with my drawings. or if there is already a special place that explains the process.

thanks lois

07-19-2002, 09:14 PM
Originally posted by hilo
elankat, you said

So, to confirm it, I did an overlay in Photoshop. It's good that I did because ::

i would like to learn how to do that but i don't know if i have the correct programs for it. i have iPhoto plus and Adobe photo deluxe.

when you have some time available, could you please direct me how to achieve an overlay with my drawings. or if there is already a special place that explains the process.

thanks lois

I have an explanation in a recent thread in the Portraiture forum (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=48946) .

I've never worked with Photoplus, so I can't say if that would work or not. I have Adobe Photo Deluxe and I don't think you can do it in that program. You need a program that has an ability to do layers and partial transparency. Basically, you make one image partially transparent, then lay it over the other image and size them up to match. I don't know how to do that with a program that doesn't support layers.

marilyn h
07-31-2002, 09:01 PM
This, Leanne, is wonderful! You have the patience of Job. Your detailed discription was worth it to me. I think you have done an outstanding job of keeping us informed of procedure. Thank you!!!! Love it!!!!:cat:

07-31-2002, 11:27 PM
Thanks Marilyn. :D You're cracking me up because I am such an impatient person. Colored pencil is sort of a way for me to try and retrain myself to be more patient. Well, colored pencil and having a toddler. :)