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 🙂 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.