Cute lady portrait

Another week, another hair challenge!



And this week, instead of explanations, I am posting the 6 steps of the painting process!

Hope you enjoy it πŸ™‚




Portrait – 1st attempt & self critique

Last week I started – somehow incredulously – my first ‘serious’ portrait project. To my surprise it came out much, much better than I could possibly expect. This was based on a photo and I am particularly proud of the left eye that really captures the personality of the person depicted (the photo was very good in fact).

I have to confess that the ‘head wire‘ I had studied years ago really helped in the initial phases of the painting – deciding where the eyes, nose and mouth go, what is the ratio between them so as to reflect the true appearance of the person’s face etc.

I would really like to push it further however, because I have the feeling I don’t fully master the different planes of the head, which I feel were quite important in this particular portrait. The photo I used as a reference was black and white with very discreete contrast, particularly in what the cheeks, temples and nose were concerned. More pronounced were the cheek lines (that define the smile) and the eyes. I had to guess most of the time where the light and the shades would go so that it would fit the head frame of the person.

day4_greyAnother challenge was the hair. Of course, I followed the precious advice of Istebrak in her hair tutorial, but had some problems finding a good brush for it. I think I could have done a better job if I had a better brush – when I find one that I consider perfect for the job I will post it here for free πŸ™‚ Overall, I’m quite happy with the result, but am a bit disappointed with the ‘silky’ look.

Finally, I definately have a problem with hands, and plan to dig into some studies for that as soon as I can. Should probably also build my patience, because I tend to spend a lot of time on things I already know how to draw (like eyes) and then rush through the neck, shoulders and hair.

I have to also confess that I had to use quite a lot the “liquify tool” to solve some rather big issues of face simetry. One very, very good trick for this has been to flip the canvas. It really changes the whole perspective of the drawing and helps find the spots where you’re way off the charts with the ratios. It does have a depressing effect though – because you think you’re doing beautifully and then flip and realised you’ve created a sort of king Quasimodo of all the portraits ever drawn.

Anyway, this was pretty much the process I went through while painting this.


Oh Praxiteles!

I’ve always liked to draw and when I was 18 I had actually developped quite a bit my skills, which I of course forgot in the meantime. I have been very much into Illustrator and into tips and tricks to render leaflets, logos etc. attractive but I left drawing pretty much aside.

Then I got to know ancient Greek art and I felt so humbled by the sheer beauty and the precision of strokes of some of the painted vases. Of course, I won’t mention here sculptures, because I completely became obsessed with Praxiteles and everything he was ever suspected to have done. In particular Apollo of Olympia stroke me as a face that represented all that was just, strong, beautiful, divine. I don’t know how Praxiteles did it but it’s simply amazing.

So I was thinking of taking on drawing again, because it’s always the best way to observe details. Then I stumbled accross Istebrak’s video tutorials on painting in photoshop. At first I thought – naaah, I couldn’t possibly achieve that level. And then I gave it a go – first only with my mouse and by painting over a photo of Javier Bardem – whose face I find so intriguing: savage, asymetrical and somehow attractive. And the result came out pretty good for a first digital painting with a mouse πŸ™‚ Here it is!

javier-bardem-portrait2xΒ In the meantime I’ve learnt how to deal with hair, but this is an excellent way to keep a track of evolution. I’ve also equipped with a very basic wacom tablet and pen, and I’m pretty much good to go.

I will post in this blog mainly for my own pleasure, for keeping track of my evolution and why not for tips and tricks for beginners. I am by no means an artist, but I am open to critique and recommendations. Trolls will be trolled though!