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Portrait Drawing in Pencil

carly_mizzou at 2:01PM, July 24, 2007

A tutorial on building up values in your drawings


(4 star average out of 3 votes)

Tools:
7mm BiC Mechanical Pencil
8.5 X 11 card stock paper
Standard White Eraser

Drawing took approx: 3 hours

Original Photo:




I must apologize this will be a bit of a “loose” tutorial. My favorite hobby is to get on MySpace and draw pictures from my friend's profiles. Chances are if you are a friend of mine on MySpace I've drawn you. Below I'm using a picture of Stardusty that I drew a couple of months ago. I'll try to explain how I go though this, but I'm hoping the images will “speak” for themselves. I welcome feedback so please, please feel free to PQ me with suggestions. On to the tutorial!

1. I start out doing the regular layout thing, drawing circles guide lines, etc… BUT what I focus on more than anything is making sure things “line up” to maintain proportion. This drawing seldom ever resembles whom I'm drawing. I view this stage as more of a guide, and usually don't attempt any detail until the next stage. I also lay in large sections of black and white to begin to establish the drawings overall value pattern. It's always important from the beginning to think of your WHOLE drawing and not just the “fun” parts to draw.



2. This is where I look at the original photo and try to think about what makes this person LOOK like them. For Andy it's his hair, the shape of his nose, they way his lips part, and his strong chin. (or at least that's what I think) So I trace my first drawing. I keep it very simple, mostly laying in the line work, and thinking about those little details while making sure I don't “break” the proportions I set up in the first drawing.



3. This is where the fun begins. I trace my second drawing, but now I'm ready to combine it with the first drawing and begin laying in my values. I could go on and on, about little things I do, but the best piece of advice I can give is NOT to focus in on one section. It's better to lay in your drawing as a whole, then come back and focus on details. That's the key to good value patterns is to think of this as a whole drawing rather than just a portrait. The values you put in the background WILL dramatically affect how “real” your foreground elements look.





4. this stage…well sometimes it's just 1 drawing, sometimes it's 10! really it's just taking the “language” you've built up in the previous drawing and tightening it. This is the stage of the drawing where you notice that people have an “IT” factor. Sometimes a drawing will be correct, but just doesn't look like your subject…and then it's just the whole try, try again thing.



Two Final things here.
1. the “it” factor, yeah sometimes it's being a bit of a characture artist, breaking your proportions and forcing the drawing to look like the subject. When and how to do this comes with lots of time and practice.
2. When drawing portraits you will superimpose YOUR features on your subject. It's been “proven” in the past with the great masters. It's nearly impossible to NOT do and sometimes even harder to recognize. That's okay as it will make your picture a piece of art rather than a photocopy. Just keep that in mind when you can't figure out why a drawing just doesn't look right, it may be because there's a little too much of you in it!

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