View Full Version : 1st Portrait sketch (in progress)

Bruce Rohrlach
02-19-2000, 09:52 PM
Am trying my hand at portrait sketching (jumping into the deep-end so to speak!). Have never sketched before but am really enjoying this. I want to do lot's of these so I have lots of questions. Are there any tips on how to approach straight black glossy hair ? And in the posts below - although there is a reasonable likeness so far - it's not quite there! The facial structure is missing something somewhere ? - Help ! This one is important to me. (Hard to get a good scan as well?). Thanks

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/Haze33.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/Hazelle.JPG

02-20-2000, 12:39 AM
with hair at all, you want to use the mass of the hair and wipe out highlights rather than trying to get in every hair. what grade pencil are you using? i'd use a 7-9B and really block in the darks, being careful not to mar your paper where the shine is. this effect is sometimes easier with charcoal, but with a very soft pencil, should be pretty simple. remember the hair will curve around the head, so your shine, will likely curve as well. they eye can be tricked when it comes to hair, so it's important to use bold line and really give it a go with an eraser.
Megan (http://www.artistnation.com/cgi-bin/gallery_browser.cgi?cmd=browse_bigimage&cust_id=5560&exhibit_id=4883&community=lofts&gallery_id=1147)
with this, i blocked in all the mass of the hair, then used an eraser to wipe out the highlights. what i would suggest is that you (on a different sheet) practice this method a few times until you get the feel of creating hair.
as far as the face, i like to use my finger or a chamoise with graphite to create subtle variation in value around highlights. especially with smooth, young skin, it's easy to do. i pretend i'm a sculptor when i draw portraiture. i smudge in areas i know are in creases and will be darker, i smudge in the direction of the shadowed area, for example, on the shadowed side, i'd smudge in a half circle near her ear, up and around her cheek, down and around the lower eye right into that part between the eye and nose and out through the brow, to the outermost corner of her eye and up her temple.
if i mess a little on her highlighted part, i wait to the end and erase it out.
good luck to ya.

[This message has been edited by kayemme (edited February 20, 2000).]

02-20-2000, 03:45 AM
Hi, I think you overdid the dark around the eyes on the lower side (especially her left eye). This portraits looks very promising!
Good luck.

Drew Davis
02-20-2000, 10:42 AM
It's a great start. Beware of drawing people; it gets addictive.

Hair: I agree with kayemme. About the only place you need strands in across the lights, and in a few places (lower left, above the left eye) where it's loose to make it read as hair. Go ahead and block in the dark values, so you can judge the values on the face.

Drawing details: If I strain, I can spot some differences. It may seem like a long list, but that's only because I'm being as picky as I can. (Heads are easy; likenesses are hard.)

The nose needs some attention. We can see a bit too much of the bottom plane, and the tip doesn't seem quite large and round enough. The right nostril is too dark, and you can't see the form of the wing around it. A little less sharp up the bridge.

The line on her left cheek is a bit too hard. It needs to break around more gently around the head along the cheekbone up near her eye. Notice that it's not really one continuous line. There's the break to the side plane of the face in the middle, but lower down, that's really a bit of form shadow from the bulge of the smile, following the arc at the corner of the mouth around.

Soft rounding away under the chin, rather than a hard line. The current chin is just a bit long, about right for the bottom edge of the shadow rather than the fore-most part of the chin, so try shading up from there. Also, form shadow all the way up the right side of the head, and into the eye socket at the corner of the eye. A bit of shadow underneath the brow/nose/eye socket corner on the right.

Left eyebrow droops a little too much, right twists up where it should be a little thicker. Outlines on the lower lids are a bit too hard. Outer corner of left eye is likely to need a bit of shade (as you have with the other corners), but that's one of those details you have to balance as you go along.

She's smiling just a bit harder on the left side of the face, making that corner a bit higher, left, and further away while the right corner heads down just a touch. The mouth also seems just a little too high and to the right to me, though I think that is the chin/jaw line low on the left and not so much the mouth per se.

I'd have to disagree with henrik on the shadows around the eye socket. (But then, look at all the other shadows I'm suggesting http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif In fact, I'd say the upper socket needs a bit, too, to show how the lids curve out over the eyeball. (Only the right eye -- her left -- shows this in the photo.) The one on the left, though, should be a little lower, below the upper lid. It's not a brow shadow, but a lid shadow.

02-20-2000, 04:43 PM
You are right - I did not mean the shadows, I ment the outlines like you say "outlines on the lower lids are a bit too hard".

Bruce Rohrlach
02-20-2000, 04:59 PM
Thanks so much - I'm learning "so much" with this new piece, and I can see it's really training my observation skills! and teaches a lot about tone and how tone/shadows affect the 3rd dimension! Addictive - that's for sure Drew !

Kayemme, I tried 2 practice runs with hair on a separate sheet, one using your method and another using a hair-by-hair (nearly) approach. Will post these digitially superimposed soon because I'm not 100% sure. I felt more in control doing the lots of fine strokes method (see Randy's post)but your blocked method produced a really nice smooth glossy effect! (although am worried it's too dark and am worried if I mess it up then it's hard to erase the black without smudging). Maybe i should work up the black-blockin in small steps that I am sure of ? and gradually work up the tone ?

Drew - your absolutely right to be so picky. I never new protraiture was such an incredibly delicate type of activity. It's really amazing how such minute changes to individual facial features can change the very character/feel of a subject! Another thing I learned was that tone produces/shadow produces profound effects in 3D. For example with the nose bridge which I agree is now too pronounced, at the time I tried to make it stand out a little more and the merest tickle of a 7H pensil made it jump right out!
Some of your suggested modifications I also noticed and edited last night. Others escaped me and will try them tonight. Another query - in detail the right (I presume the right means from the viewers perspective) cornea is too large and too low in the eye. How do I edit this when it is "dark-heavy-pensil" and so difficult to erase cleanly ??? Also Henrik - agree with your 2nd post, but difficult to edit now - need a very fine stiff eraser ??!!

That's another lesson I guess - too work up the tone and don't make it heavy until I'm absolutely sure the placement is right ?

Also - for anyone doing portraiture - heed Bruin's advice re- looking at it upside, or backwards, sideways, in a mirror (or standing on your head http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif etc. It really does help Bruin !! That's a great piece of advice! The mirror works really well when comparing with the orig. for detecting asymmetries in facial structure.

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 20, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 20, 2000).]

Phyllis Rennie
02-20-2000, 05:07 PM
Regarding the facial structure--try actually measuring the features. Measure the width of the eyes in the photo--they're equal. And the width of the bottom of the nose is nearly equal to the width of the eyes. In your drawing the left eye (my left) looks a bit wider and the bottom of the nose looks quite a bit wider than the right eye.

02-20-2000, 07:09 PM
I suggested this book before - but I think it is such a great book that I will plug it again http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif "Drawing a likeness" by Douglas R. Graves - step by step advice on how to successfully analyze and draw portraits.

02-20-2000, 07:49 PM
You've got an outstanding start on this! My take on it is that you are doing great with the features, but are being too tentative with the shadows. Though some values are very subtle in the photo, to shape her face with the pencil, you'll need to be a little bolder with the shadows to mold her face.

Almost all of your features are outstandingly accurate with the photo, but the face is too wide. You need to trim just a tad off of both sides to get a better likeness and just a bit more off of her right side.

The nose needs some work. Remember, that to create a good portrait you don't always have to do exactly what's in the photo. (something I've had to have hammered into my brain) You could probably improve on the photo's nose to get a better likeness. Either that or I'm not seeing enough detail to be able to tell. Another example would be her clothes. In the photo, it looks very flat, just like in your portrait. If you gave more shade to the shoulders and played around with it, I think it would look better.

The hair on my "portrait of amber" that you referred to was a primary focal point of the piece and so it was detailed out, though you might be surprised how much of it is actually shaded and not single strokes. I actually tried the technique in another portrait where it was not the focal point, and I did not like it as well. I would think that a combination of the techniques might work on this portrait.

As Drew said, I'd be sure to put in the hair before you finish off the values on the face or it will all be off once you put the hair in.

My Art Gallery (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/randy/)

Drew Davis
02-22-2000, 08:59 AM
Editing the pupil where it's dark and difficult to erase:

I mainly use two sorts of erasers. There's the white vinyl sort (Sanford "Magic Rub", Staedler "Mars", etc.), which I like for mass removal of problem areas. For precise work, you'll have to keep trimming these with a knife to keep a point or edge as they round off.

The one I usually use for delicate work is the kneaded rubber sort. They look like gray rectangles when you buy them, but don't look that way for long. The nice thing about these is that you can mold them into any shape you need, including edges and fine points. Technique is better described as "lifting" than "rubbing". Pull out a point on the eraser, and touch it to the work. It's sticky, so it will pick up some graphite. Fold the dirty point back in, pull out another point as necessary, and sort of pick and pull the shape back until it's where you want it. It won't take all the graphite off in one pass, which in this instance is good, with a dark pupil against a dark iris. You can rub with kneaded erasers, as well.

The hard pink erasers I don't use much, as they're pretty abrasive and hard on the paper. They're sometimes handy for those really stubborn spots. I haven't used the brown gum erasers enough recently to have an opinion on those.

02-23-2000, 12:16 AM
bruce,,,,,,if you want to find errors in your likeness, turn the drawing and photo upside down and check all your alignments,,,easy. the eyes are overdone because there was great concern here to get them right, so they're overworked. you should block in the hair first. it is the darkest dark on the head, it sets the head(which now floats), it is used to gauge all your values. for instance,,,,had you established the hair, you would see that the reflected light in her shadowed face(our right)should be darker. it only looks ok now because it looks dark compared to the blank paper it sits against. in drawing especially, it's always a good idea to set your darks,,,,they anchor the drawing(this goes for paintings as well).......milt

Bruce Rohrlach
02-23-2000, 04:22 AM
The face is nearly there I think (except for the tone adjustment that I'll have to do after the hair). I still think the left eye needs narrowing down to look like the right eye, and the change in slope of the cheek lines on the right needs adjustment. I think the facial features are much closer now compared to stage-1 above. The scanner is still whiting-out the light-grey shading tones unfortunately.

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 23, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 25, 2000).]

02-23-2000, 02:46 PM
Bruce, I like how this drwing is coming alive! the eyes are so much better than the first posting! take a look at the subjects left nostril. use the upside down technique that bruin so often implores. you will see it clearly..i would lift it just a tad and pull it in a little closer to tip of the nose. I have learned so much from this website by application of the suggestions i have received. What a wonderful bunch of people here!!! I can't wait to see your finished portrait..... Adelphia

[This message has been edited by Adelphia (edited February 23, 2000).]

02-23-2000, 05:58 PM
Eyes are much better now!

Bruce Rohrlach
02-25-2000, 07:30 AM
OK I think I'm nearly there. Kayemme is this the general effect with the hair?? I was terrified when I started the hair in case I wrecked it but it seemed to work out just fine http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif ? (used HB & 2B). A detailed close-up can be found in the URL below. Bruin - upside down helped a lot! I think there are still a number of subtleties I have to work on. Drew - you seem to have a good eye! Her face appears slightly too wide - but I don't think it's the dimensions, I think it's because my shadeing on the sides of her face is not strong enough, causing her face to appear wider than it really is ?? And is it just my imagination or should her eyes be half a mil higher (i.e. vertical distance between mouth and eye-line should be a squib higher ??) Maybe that's why her face appears slightly too wide ??

Also - is there a recommended method(s)for getting a real smooth finish on the shading ??


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/Hazelle.JPG http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/Hazelle2a.jpg

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 25, 2000).]

02-25-2000, 07:40 AM
Wow! Great improvement!
One thing I see is that the hair should come down further on her forhead.

Drew Davis
02-25-2000, 10:10 AM
I think you're on the right track. It seems to me the face is just a tiny bit too short (rather than too wide, although I guess it's the same thing). The nose could come down a little bit longer, and the chin a bit more pointed. But largely it's the indication of the side planes, as you say. On the right hand jaw, make the reflected light more subtle, smaller, a bit darker, and just along the lower jawline.

Also, the form shadow of the head should go all the way up the side, past the temple. All that hair makes it hard to see; think of an egg, though, with the whole side in shadow. Shadow sort of leaks in off the side of the face through the corner of the eye socket, while the cheekbone carries the light further around than it would go otherwise, just beneath. Those corners where you see the eyebrow drop down on the outside are also generally where it breaks back around the face, giving you another hint as to where the side planes are. (Did that make any sense?)

Grab a really soft pencil (6B+) for the dark values in the hair. Not only can you make the hair darker, black instead of perhaps brown, it gives your facial shadows a little more dynamic range in which to operate without looking too dark.

Shade the ears down just a little. They're one value notch down below the sides of the face. The left hand ear lobe goes a bit low; try a bit more decisively horizontal line just at the end, rather than tapering down into the head. (You've got to appreciate people with long hair, saving us all the pain of rendering detailed ears http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif)

You can get the softest blended effects by rubbing, with fingers, paper stumps, or a chamois. Some people don't like smeared graphite (as opposed to smeared charcoal). And while I agree pencil doesn't really carry it off as well as charcoal, blending still gives you a lot of subtle control over delicate tones, like on a face. Blending also reduces the graininess. Is that what you meant by "smooth finish"? Experiment on another piece of paper (perhaps a quick stab at that "shading an egg" exercise), and see if you like the effect.

02-25-2000, 01:58 PM
I still stand by it. The face is definitely too wide (that was me that said it). You've got a very good drawing, but I think to get the likeness just right, you'll need to trim off some which will get the chin more correct too. Specifically, her left lower jaw and her entire right side needs to be trimmed in and the point of the chin brought down just a tad. Then bringing in her right side of her neck as it's too thick. And looking at the scan, the shadow values are still too light. Don't be afraid to put some shade in there, unless the scan is scanning it too light.

My Art Gallery (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/randy/)

Drew Davis
02-25-2000, 07:47 PM
Well, we all agree that the aspect ratio is a little off http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

Seriously, the only difference is how big the head winds up being after. You fix the ratio by either lengthening the face, or narrowing it. Lengthening the face makes the head bigger; narrowing the face makes it smaller.

It's an amazingly subtle difference in any event. I'm still trying to reconcile the fact that we can notice such small differences with Milt's point (in another thread) that you can recognize people from a long way away, too far to see detail. I agree; I just haven't got the logical part of it in my head yet.

Argh! OK, I broke down and tried it, on a teeny inkjet print with my handy #2 office pencil. Randy's right; taking a bit off just the left (her right) edge of the face helps. (You don't really want to have to move the mouth down, in any event; other than the chin, you can't do much lengthening, regardless, without a lot of rework.)

I also learned that you shouldn't erase on a fresh inkjet print, so my experiment ended early. I strongly recommend against making the left side all an even blended gray.

Bruce Rohrlach
02-25-2000, 08:07 PM
Yes Drew-Randy, I can see it now! Thanks so much! It pays to put something like this down for a day or so and not look at it at all and then come back to troubleshoot. Good thought Drew - I want to avoid reworking now that the eyes and mouth are "fixed". I agree the size and shape of the head is most accurately tackled by bringing the LHS in and only very slightly (almost imperceptably)extending the chin. This will keep the face to the right size and not let it get to big. (your right Randy - the chin shape could be adjusted ever so slightly, and narrowing the neck will add/match her fine/delicate look). I'm sure your suggestions will remove the "fuller-face" appearance and give her the more delicate refined look that she has. Think it's going work. (Yes also Henrik - Ta).

Randy (see below) - I thought Drew was joking!! but wasn't sure tho ! Yes - I'll try my utmost to avoid that! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 25, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 25, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Bruce Rohrlach (edited February 25, 2000).]

02-25-2000, 08:15 PM

LOL! RE: the tip on the blended gray!

My Art Gallery (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/randy/)

02-25-2000, 10:57 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bruce Rohrlach: - I want to avoid reworking now that the eyes and mouth are "fixed".
Did a great job "fixing" the nose as well!

Phyllis Rennie
02-26-2000, 07:07 PM
This one's improving fast, Bruce. Good job! Girls that age usually have a fairly long slender neck--you might try trimming it a little more. Phyl

Bruce Rohrlach
03-09-2000, 10:01 AM
Finally got around to finishing the portrait.
THANKYOU so much, everyone who helped me along the way! Your help is very much appreciated!!

I don't think I can get this one any closer now, although if I started a second one anew I might get closer. A close-up image is at http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/bruce/HazellePort2.jpg (scan is still whiteing-out the light shades).


03-11-2000, 01:16 PM
Excellent likeness, Bruce! I really like the way you did her hair. What did you use to render it?

I don't know if you wanted any more critiquing, but the only thing I see off is her left jaw bone (our right) seems to stick out too much and too angular. If you rounded off the point on that it would match the other side more.

Great job!


03-15-2000, 11:02 AM
I guess it's kind of too late, but, I have a comment unrelated to the face. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

The cord of the tassel going over the corner of that hat or whatever... the edge of the hat is a solid line as if the cord is completely cut off there. I don't get any sense that the cord is actually going over the edge and curving around to the back side. Because the edge is such a solid straight line, all the way through where the cord thickness ought to be, it makes it especially obvious...

Other than that I think the portrait is great. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif It takes so much patience to get something like this right!

-=- Jen / Pixelscapes