View Full Version : Portrait of Ashley

02-29-2000, 04:53 PM
Ok all, I decided to go ahead and try a portrait of my favorite picture of my daughter, Ashley. This is my first portrait so if you see areas that you think I might finish off better later, please tell me just in case I don't know them.

First, this is a prelim sketch. I'm hoping to make my major and fundamental errors here first before I do the real thing on watercolor paper.

Second, scanners apparently don't pick up the lighter values of pencil, so there are some subtle shadows that are hard to miss (most of the neck and shoulders).

I did this with a #2 pencil on a Mead sketch tablet.

I am aware of two problems: #1, the model's right eye, our left, is wrong -- angled down too much, I think. Secondly, the face is too narrow and long. Thirdly, the values in the hair are not relative to what they should be, but I am having a bit of difficulty showing the shininess of the hair and the differences in value without making it look too dark in color. I will correct these when I do my second prelim sketch.

Please, tell me other issues that you find with this portrait.

<a href="http://www.lamar.edu/test/jb/ashley.jpg">Original Photo</a>


[This message has been edited by Electra (edited February 29, 2000).]

02-29-2000, 05:34 PM
The eyes might use some "stuff" to indicate that they are rounded. A shading on the external sides, perhaps. The iris and the dark part of the eye should be more clearly defined. A reflective highlight on the eyeball would be cool too.

The original photo is posed so nicely, she's a cutie all right. You are planning to get the rest of her in (the neck and shoulders) I assume. A nice subject always helps! Hope to see the final product!

"Art is anything you can get away with." -- Marshall McLuhan

02-29-2000, 05:47 PM

The nose looks flat. Try to think of it in 4 planes (2 sides, top and underside (bottom)).

Cindy Agathocleous

"What if imagination and art are not, as many of us might think, the frosting on life, but the fountainhead of human experience?" - Rollo May from The Courage to Create

02-29-2000, 06:03 PM
Yes, the neck and shoulders are there, but light, still, so they're hard to make out.

The iris and the pupil are not defined at all in the photo -- it's part of the charm of her eyes, that they seem so much larger because the lack of that.

Some of the things that you're noticing is due to a lack of the subtle shadings that the scanner refuses to pick up (the nose, and shading on the sides of the eyes).

Thanks for your comments! More please!! ;-)
Bruin, I would especially like your take on this..

02-29-2000, 06:34 PM
e,,,,she's blond ,,,yes. blonds are difficult because the hair doesn't frame the face well. so to show her head best you should darken the background. if she has something like a dark headband or sonesuch ,,,that would help show off the head......milt

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

02-29-2000, 07:09 PM
Well.. she's not exactly *blonde* .. more of a light brown.. did you see the photo? It's very dark in the photo. As soon as I get a decent face done I will work more on the hair and darkening it appropriately... The photo has a dark woodgrain background.. but I thought it was too busy and would compete too much with the subject.. and fight with the edges of her hair.

I'll try darkening the background and seeing if that helps frame her face. Since her skin is so light it might help set that off too.

Thanks B ;-)

Phyllis Rennie
02-29-2000, 08:55 PM
It's hard for me to tell without seeing them side by side but I think her face and nose are a bit shorter and more full than you have sketched them. It's a really cute photo! Good luck with it.

03-01-2000, 01:17 AM
geeez,,,,nice recognition of values, e!!! her hair is practically black! you have to get the hair in as you work on the features. that way you know how to emphasize them. right now the features might look fine but as soon as you put in the dark hair value,,,you'll see that the features are too light....and you'll have to go over the features again......miltie((((e))))

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

03-01-2000, 01:42 AM
If you notice, Miltie http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif I said I knew the values on the hair weren't right.

Come into chat.. I know you're online.. I'm here.. I want to hear more of what you have to say...

03-01-2000, 01:56 AM
OK .. here's a second one.. same subject.. it looks SO different. This one was done with real art pencils.. and a charcoal pencil.


Let me have it, both barrels. The face shape should be better here.. but why does it look so different?!

Oh yeah. I can't get the scanner to see the nice subtle light values, so this is as close as I could get. Imagine there are more than harsh lines please ;-) Maybe i can get a digital cam shot of it soon.

[This message has been edited by Electra (edited March 01, 2000).]

Bruce Rohrlach
03-01-2000, 03:59 AM
Hi Electra,
This is "more" of a likeness than the first post ! I learnít a HUGE amount with all the posts when I did mine. There are a lot of people here who know far more than I do re-portraits, but I think I can offer some valuable hints that I learnt along the way with my last post.

The important thing will be simply to have patience, a very fine eraser tip (eraser pencils are great)and donít darken things until the very end so that erasing mistakes is easy, and only work on the piece when you are comfortable and in the mood and relaxed !! Donít worry about details such as teeth, eyelashes, freckles, tongue, eye-lid curves etc until you are happy with the "geometric likeness" from the simple position of the main facial features. (In the early stages - proportions-shapes of the principal features such as head outline firstly, eyes-cornea outline, nose outline and the two-lips is critical). Youíll gradually learn to pick up the finest/smallest differences which make so much difference to a likeness! But these minute changes come later, the FIRST step is to get the basic proportions as correct as possible (which generally means exact !). The best way to learn is simply to work your way thru a portrait such as this "slowly". Itís like what I would imagine sculpture to be like, shaving a tiny bit here, extending a minute fraction there, adjusting the angle of a line ever so slightly etc (and always always re-checking and cross-referencing with the original ad-infinitum), and eventually the likeness gradually converges on your original - itís extremely rewarding.

The first step is to get the shape-proportion of the head correct. Look at the length of the jawline on the right compared to the one on the left . The right one (her left) is too long. The reason is because the chin appears to be a little to far to the left. I found that a useful reference guide is to draw a centre-line for her face on your pad (and on the original) which goes thru the middle of her nose, and you can then extend this down to the chin so that you can see where the point of the chin lies with respect to this centre-line". (Keep these guiding lines extremely light so they can be erased at a later stage). Another extremely useful reference line to have on your piece is one cross-ways through the middle of both eyes. Youíll then immediately notice that in your sketch, this "eye-line" is much steeper than in the original. Other useful reference lines (esp in my example where the subject was looking straight ahead) are ones which drop from some distinctive part of the eyes (e.g. inner eye edge) vertically down so that you can easily judge where the mouth-lips should be positioned with respect to those guiding-lines.

In the original, Ashley is looking up and to the right, in your sketch she is looking directly ahead at you. This difference can be partly corrected by very carefully noting where "her" corneas are placed within the whole eye. The corneas need to move slightly higher so that the upper part of the cornea is truncated by the upper eye-lid. See where the cornea edges curve inward and meet the upper eyelid, you will have to get these to match exactly, your current ones curve inward too much at the top, making her look flat ahead instead of slightly upward. Try not to shade the corneas too dark at this early stage, because if you need to modify their position, erasing the edge or side is easier. But donít touch these UNTIL you have the basic geometry of the head, eye positions and shapes correct first. This is very important.

Janet - donít get concerned about a likeness just yet - youíll find that it is in the latter stages where you are "tweeking" the corners of the eyes and the corners of the mouth, and the shading, that the likeness will really jump out (SO LONG AS your overall proportions and positions are correct of course). Getting these right at the start will save you heaps of heartache later on. I think I can see from this that you certainly have the hand to do a really great portrait http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif - just have to tackle it in the LOGICAL SEQUENCE. -- oops this is too long.

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited March 01, 2000).]

03-01-2000, 10:39 AM
No, it's not too long at ALL! You have showed me some valuable pieces of advice. I have a few books I need to go get that talk about the things you mentioned.

Thank you so much for spending so much time on this, showing me where it's off.

I'll try to have more patience with it. This was done in about an hour and a half.. Next time I post should be closer yet to the original.

Thank you to everyone for helping out on this. ;-)

03-01-2000, 09:29 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif will wait till you get my snail mail and see what you do with the eyes then. I like it a lot - and being patient, taking your
time does make a big difference! Good going Janet


irene clark
03-02-2000, 08:14 PM
Bruce you have done a wonderful job describing the ins and outs and does and don'ts to protrait drawing. As usual, you have a knack for describing technique. I envy you that talent, wish I could be of more help, but all that comes to mind is, listen to Bruce. I follow that very format with very good results.
Electra, you've made a fine start and you'll see that very soon, like magic, your sweetie will be looking right back at you.
Keep on strokin,
Irene Clark with a heart for art.

03-04-2000, 09:32 AM
((((e)))),,,a good way to find all your misalignments....so we'll start there. now,,,,start with the face shape and work your way into the details. tell me the mistakes...miltie
ps...i tried to make both images the same so that you could sight-size

"he who thinks he know all and knows nothing is king in a kingdom of one,,,,,or a critic" - the kobe

[This message has been edited by bruin70 (edited March 04, 2000).]

03-04-2000, 10:13 AM
Don't know if this has come up...I don't do a lot of People...but...I find that also holding the drawing in front of the mirror to reverse image is a great way to see errors, or areas that don't quite work in a sketch. For some reason holding it upside down doesn't work for me.....must be a spacial concept thing. But the reverse image works everytime!!! I always have been a bit "Backwards"!!!!!!!!!!
Hope this helps.
Your daughter is adorable and your portrait is coming along nicely. Just take your time!!


03-04-2000, 10:31 AM
same basic concept steph....the reason it may work better for you on a flop is that doing a portrait requires some recognition as your portrait evolves. there is none in an upside down. but you see the ABSTRACT ELEMENTS(such as alignments) better BECAUSE there is no recognition factor....milt

03-04-2000, 09:07 PM
Thanks Milt....
Now I understand a bit better...I just love this site...I am learning sooo much!