Sunday, May 8, 2011

Portrait of Joel Day 5 - Tiny details

Finally, I am starting to make progress on this portrait! I have to admit to a confidence slump, over the past few days. This is a little like a writer's block that authors have. There is no alternative but to keep pushing ahead when this happens, and hope it will all come together.

This portrait has tiny details, which require very precise and tiny strokes if a likeness is to be achieved. I have applied 4 layers - cream, light peach, soft pink and yellow ochre - as a wash over the entire face. Now, I am beginning to model the contours of the face, working from light to dark values. I am using a light touch and a very sharp pencil to increase the intensity of my colours. This will result in a smoother finish, but it will take many layers to reach the intensity of colour that I am aiming for. On this picture, I am using Derwent Coloursoft pencils, as they have a soft, creamy texture which is perfect for skin tones. For the very small details, I often switch to Derwent Artists or Studio pencils, which are harder - I find these pencils to be more precise. 

I use a craft knife to maintain a very sharp point to my pencils. This is necessary so that the pigment can be applied to both the hills and the valleys of the work surface. For portraiture, this is especially important. For other textures, particularly for the rough textures found in, say, sand and other features of landscape drawing, a blunt pencil may be a advantage. 

The tooth of the paper is all important in achieving the desired effect. A smooth or hot-pressed paper is usually used for fine portraiture, though a loose and very effective result can be achieved with a rougher surface. Cold-pressed or rough papers are useful for landscapes as the need to laboriously create textures can be avoided by using the tooth of the paper. A medium surface is useful for a picture which is composed of contrasting textures, where no one texture is dominant. I use both smooth and medium surfaces for my portraits and can attest to the huge difference that the paper can make to the effects which are possible and, also, the final result.


  1. Hi Mum.
    I like the drawing that you are doing it look's really good.
    from Melanie xo xo.

  2. Thank you, Melanie! You are very kind. x

  3. Your picture looks great! I'm sure that the backgorund will sort itself out as you go. I can't relate to that sort of slump in art, but I certainly have had it in music. It's going to look really good when you're done.
    Oh, and I noticed you changed you comment form. Any particular reason for that?

  4. Hi Immy, Thank you for your much-appreciated encouragement - it's very motivating.
    I had to change the comments form because it wasn't working when Melanie tried to post a comment. I'm not sure what went wrong but I thought it was much simpler the other way - I'll try to sort it out when I get a chance.
    I apologize to anyone who may have commented while the form wasn't working. I love comments so I hope this works for everyone. x


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