Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Portrait of Joel Day 2 - Drafting the Composition

This is where I'm at, after about 5 days of planning and decision-making, and 2 days of sketching and drafting. Once again, I am working on a large portrait which doesn't fit onto my drafting table, so I have trimmed it where I can to prevent damage to the paper.
The first stage of the drawing process was to draft the main features of the composition, lightly with a hard pencil. I don't worry about fine details, at this point, as my principle goal here is to get the proportions right. With this in mind, I map out the light and dark areas, and outline the main features. On the face, I locate the position of the features and the shadowed areas, but I don't worry about achieving a likeness or producing good art, at this stage.
Here, you can see the outline of the entire composition (though it's not a good photo!). This has been drafted lightly with an HB pencil so that it can be erased easily, later. Coloured pencils are mostly transparent so any initial markings will need to be removed to prevent them showing through the final drawing. 
Now, it is time to begin the exciting details! First of all, I carefully erase the pencil lines of the face and replace them with a light sand colour, which will blend in with the layers that I will be applying next. Then, I begin rendering the eyes. Although this is a large picture, the face is quite a small part of the composition and the detail of the eyes is not easy to see. Because accurate rendering of the eyes is crucial to achieving a likeness, I enlarged the photo as much as I could on the computer and alternated between my computer screen and the reference photos as I worked. Normally, I think that art succeeds best when it simplifies reality so I try not to get obsessive about tiny details, but, with facial features, fine details can be the difference between successfully capturing a subject and falling crucially short. 

Tomorrow, I will continue to render the features, before applying the many layers that it takes to build up a believable skin tone.


  1. Wow, you have a lot of reference pictures. Is this picture going to have a background?

    I'm glad to see that my post has helped bring a couple of new followers to your blog. I hoped it might.

  2. The features are small in this picture, even though the picture is large, so many different photos help to get the details right. The black and white photo acts as a tonal study - it helps to see the lights and darks properly, without being distracted by the colour, and it also helps in balancing the lights and darks, when composing the picture.
    The background in this picture is bigger than the figure. I suspect there will be a few challenges as I haven't yet decided how I will render the concrete, the tree barks and the fallen leaves. It will probably develop naturally but, at this stage, I have only half-developed ideas about how I will approach it.
    Thanks for the support, Immy - it really means a lot to me. x
    Such a long comment! It's almost a new post!!


Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Vicky