Spacing of features is still an issue for me, but the ability to get to this point with a sketch in a shorter amount of time is greatly encouraging. This took me about 15 minutes, as opposed to the near-hour this level of development was taking me only a week ago. Impressive results.
This day feels like a backslide to me. I spent as much time working on this image as I did the day before, but didn’t get as refined a result. I struggled with the facial view — straight-on, in the image the day before, was much simpler. I keep learning more and more that the less I build up first, the better the drawing goes. Starting with a less-dark graphite, such as an H-grade or less, is giving me a more polished look. Part of getting back into the swing of portrait drawing, with traditional tools and digital ones, is reintroduction to the tools. I want to increase my familiarity with them. To be able to, without thinking much, reach for and get the performance I have in mind, without having to correct. That will just take time and more practice.
Digital portrait, drawn in Sketchbook Pro. I played with some color. Using synthetic paint, and seeing how much I could teach myself about color work, I experimented. I am pleased with the lips and the sheen of white — I know it’s not brilliantly executed, but being able to use color and incorporate it into daily sketching is a lot of fun — and a good learning, stress-free time.
Graphite on paper. I drew this by hand because I didn’t want to venture too far away from traditional practice. I’d ideally like to be able to sketch every other practice drawing using a different method. I used 2B graphite and put down the initial lines using H. Still struggling with lips, but feel happy with the nose and the structure of the eyes. Starting light, and working to heavier gradients and strokes is definitely the way to work — my brain and hands are beginning to remember the flow. I can almost feel the features as I’m drawing them — a very good intuitive sign I wish to cultivate more.
This was a short sketch study, once again done digitally. Even though she isn’t elaborate, and she has no hair in this version, I’m pleased. The studies are going faster and more intuitively. Plus, as a bonus, after a week of small works, I get the pleasure of seeing a positive progression!
The eighth day of sketching portraits. This was a short exercise for me, about 30 minutes. I used Sketchbook Pro again, as I want to get more comfortable with making traditional-looking art in digital form — it gives me so many more options for working while living on a boat — and the versatility of digital art is unparalleled. I’m very pleased with this — it is getting easier each day I do this to jump right in — exactly the effect I was hoping for.
Two more days of drawing to introduce you to. As I had thought would happen, Day 5 was not as progressive as I’d hoped. Happily, Day 6 was! There are flows to each day. It’s enough that I wake up, and get focused enough to draw — all the better when I draw — no matter the outcome I am still getting excellent, much-needed practice. Is there a better way to spend your time? Admit it, you’re thinking about disagreeing with me, but you can’t. Not really. 🙂
Onward to the drawings!
I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to on this picture and the quality suffered for it. I am getting better at approximating the feature’s sizes without measuring. My shading is even coming along a little bit, particularly with the lips, which really are a trouble area for me. You can clearly see the “X”s as markers for insides of the eyes, and the hair loose and sloppy. I know that the spacing is off — in particular the relationship between the nose and the lips — also continues to be a problem for me in these exercises. The lines are getting more expressive and loose, and I am getting less reluctant to begin making marks on the paper. Even though not the best artwork so far, there have been some bravery developments. I’ll take it!
See what I mean about the advances happening day-by-day? After seeing some lovely new brushes available from Sketchbook Pro, in my email, I decided to go digital with my sketch today. This is a good development, because it means I am getting more psychologically adventurous and am building some self-confidence (a big part of what I’m aiming for by doing these exercises). I’m VERY PLEASED. The features still are askew and lips are still kicking me in the face problem-wise, but …this is by far the best portrait drawing I’ve done digitally. The best digital eyes I’ve made so far, also. I did get to play a lot more today; I was able to spend hours experimenting, so it’s not actually a quick-study — still, a great success.
The face from above but with an illusion of hair thanks to the “tapered synthetic paint” brush. I also love the watercolor brush that gives her pigmentation and rosy cheeks!
Keep doing your awesome stuff, too. I’m enjoying this work and I hope you are enjoying yours! Bring it on, Day Seven!
A few years ago when I was first learning drawing, I did 100 portraits as close to once a day as I could manage.
In fact, most of the portraits you’ve seen on my blog have been due to this work period. Obviously, I made a lot of progress! It was difficult to stay determined and some days were a regression. Sometimes, I would advance in skill by leaps and bounds seemingly overnight. The most important thing to remember about the brain is: It is not a computer. It responds best with iteration, time, and practice.
Ever really look at an artist draw? The artist makes lots and lots and lots of lines. Most them are completely the wrong shape, not perfect. But…then something magic happens. The artist’s brain warms up, it start making adjustments, lines go over other lines. Some lines are used as reference points for larger shapes. The features and the overall composition of the drawing start to show through the application of actively working, of keeping the lines and workflow loose, by being open and revising as material is being added. This is how the brain works: with averages, with shapes, intuitively, from other references, with something to look at, hold onto, and then craft from. The more “into it” you get, the better your end result. I’ve heard this state called “flow”. It might even look like mastery. It certainly is doing rather than a forcing. After drawing 100 portraits, it got easier for me to get to this place with art, emotionally, and with profound physical results.
I’ve stepped away from portraits for a long time. I’ve gotten pretty rusty at daily sketching. Putting hours and hours into a succulent or a digital image is a lot of fun, and yields a shiny, polished outcome. I enjoy it a lot, and will continue to do so, but I really missed the spontaneity and growth of focusing for an hour (or less) with a pencil and paper and doing a daily sketch! So, here I am again, returning to that practice.
Here are four days of sketching.
Already my progress and coordination is visible. I have a lot of relearning and familiarity to do. There will be backward and forward days, but I’m looking forward to the progress overall, and for advancing my art in this approachable way.
Digital art. This is a modification of a hand-drawn portrait I made months ago called Samantha. I’ve been submitting to a lot of literary magazines lately, and have been noting some fantastic cover art.
Looking back at my own work, and manipulating some colors in this (originally graphite) picture, I saw a lot of fun possibilities. Go ahead and make a simple sketch of your own, and take a picture of it. Drop it into Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop, or Illustrator — I bet you’ll come up with more artistic uniqueness that you ever thought!
I like the strong yellow. I like the loud colors. I like those color qualities against the softness of the female portrait. I enjoyed playing with this. Give your own artwork a digital-color try — and share them, of course!