Sunday, July 31, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Now for the arm!

Layer upon layer has been applied to build up depth and colour. Now, it is apparent that more work needs to be done on the little foot. The colours here are a bit browner than in the actual picture, but, still, more pinks will need to be applied to the baby's foot to give the impression of realistic, pinky baby flesh.

At this stage, I need to apply more burnt ochre over the hand and arm. The fingers have already had this layer applied. The finger nails need more pinks and reds - they are quite white-looking and seem unhealthy, at the moment. The cuticles will need to be toned down with either a coating of peach and pink or, if necessary, some lifting of the pigment with a piece of Blu tak. I have applied a very light layer of dark blue to the deepest shadows and the veined areas, and this may need to be lightened around the nails to soften the effect. A little more red and an all-over layer of peach will probably be sufficient , before I move on to the next part of the portrait.

The new pencils have made a huge difference and that is one reason why the foot now looks odd. A different technique and more colours has meant a different approach and a different effect. I have settled upon using both Prismacolors and Derwent Coloursoft pencils for my flesh tones. They both produce creamy, rich colours which are not quite possible with the harder pencils. I have found that Prismacolors have a lot more peach and cream colours than the Derwents. This makes it possible to build up the tones gradually, which is important when a smooth finish is desired. Derwent Coloursofts have more pale and medium pink colours and, so far, I am finding some warmer reds in the range, although I do need to experiment more before making a real jugdment. Having such a good range of colours is making it is easier to achieve exactly the effect that I am aiming for.

The adult arm has more oranges and yellows than the baby skin, which has more pinks and purples. It, also, has more browns in the shadowed areas. The baby's shadows are more red in hue. None of these colours is set in concrete, yet, however. I will continue to stand back from the portrait to assess those all-important adjustments which will make such a difference to the finished picture.

I haven't mentioned the type of strokes I use to achieve different textures - that may have to come in the next post.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Newborn Portrait - New Pencils!

Here, the arm is partway finished. I started rendering it with Coloursoft pencils and, then, decided to purchase a set of Prismacolors. I'm so excited about these pencils - they really suit my technique. They allow me to create fine textures without losing any intensity of colour. Some pencils are too hard to create a smooth, deep colour and others are so soft that they crumble, leaving dark, crayon-like flecks over the picture. I find this is especially problematic with some of the darker colours.

I'm still experimenting with these pencils so I'm not yet sure whether I will interchange with the Derwent Studio and Artists pencils when rendering particularly fine details. I'm anticipating that the Derwent Coloursoft pencils will be ideal for soft, rough textures, while the Prismacolors will be invaluable for skin tones and, probably, much more.

As you can see, I'm still working on the arm. The change of pencils slowed me down somewhat but I'm finding that progress has speeded up with the new pencils. At this stage, I have applied light washes of cream, pale pink and pale peach, followed by modelling with pigments of increasing value. The colours I have used so far have been Jasmine, Salmon Pink and Pink Rose. Prismacolor pencils don't have a pale pink (in the 120 set - the 12 new colours may contain this shade), so I will probably use one of the Derwent pinks as I move up the tones. Again, I will be experimenting between the Coloursoft and the Artist pencils to achieve the right texture.

I am using more orange and yellow colours for the adult skin and, once again, I am moving up the value chart from light to darker tones to create a smooth blend of colours. This will make the skin appear more realistic.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Baby Feet

Finally, I am on a roll with this portrait. The challenges no longer seem insurmountable and I'm now finding it difficult to drag myself away from my drawing table. This is in contrast to how I felt when the progress seemed slow and unsatisfactory - there is little connection with the work when discouraging feelings persist and I have to force myself to keep working and to approach the process in a professional manner.

I have further developed my technique with this portrait and that makes all of the challenges worthwhile. By interchanging the types of pencils that I am using, I have been able to achieve a finer result. For this picture, I have found that laying down pale washes using Derwent Coloursoft pencils, and modelling the contours using Derwent Artists pencils, produces the best result. I have been returning to the Coloursoft pencils for the final washes, which I use to deepen and improve the intensity of the colour.

Derwent Artists pencils retain their sharp point better than the Coloursoft pencils and this is essential for fine details. The Coloursoft pencils produce a creamier and smoother finish for the washes. They, also, produce a more intense colour with fewer layers than the Artists pencils. I find the Artists pencils too hard for some of the smooth textures which are important in depicting skin tones, so a combination of the two types has been a good compromise.

The foot is almost complete. I will leave it, at this stage, and move on to the large arm which is cradling the baby, and I will return to fix up any problem areas when the portrait is nearing completion. In my next post, I will describe the colours that I have used to depict the baby's skin and the differences which will  be necessary to paint the adult arm.

At this point, I have found my rhythm and my soul is absorbed in the process of creating an image of beauty - bliss!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Compensating Textures and Materials

 I've learnt a lot from doing this portrait, precisely because things haven't gone according to plan. The fine texture that I was aiming for wasn't easy to produce using the Colorsoft pencils that I have. I find that the darker colours of this series are a bit waxy for my technique. No matter how finely I sharpen these pencils and how light a touch I use when applying the pigment, I often end up with a crayon-type finish when I particularly want a smooth or fine texture.

The solution here was to use the Colorsoft pencils for the lighter washes - again, applying the pigment with a very fine touch - and, then, swapping to Derwent Artists and, at times, Derwent Studio pencils for the darker colours. These pencils are much harder and so are less generally used for fine skin tones, but I find they suit my technique better. I rarely use even a medium pressure for skin tones and am happy to build up tones over a great many layers. Even so, I am anticipating experimenting with Prismacolor pencils, in the future. These are popular pencils for portrait artists and, although my experience with them is very limited, already I am impressed with how they handle these delicate textures - though, I must add that a combination of different types of Derwent pencils also seems to produce a pleasing result.

So, after several reworkings, I finally feel that I am on track with this portrait. I haven't quite achieved the finish I was hoping for on the face, but the rest of the head is closer to my expectations. However, this has been a very useful learning experience and I feel that it is worth continuing with it to see the end result.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Fixing up and Battling on

It doesn't look as though much work has been done, in the past few days, but there has been a lot of correcting going on. Twice, the layers of pigment have been removed, using blu tak. This was because the skin texture didn't have the fine quality that I was aiming for. 

Another issue has been the colour of the skin. The photo is very red and the shadowed areas don't show a pleasant hue in the photograph so I am having to modify the colours, using experimentation as I go along. This is where good photographic reference materials and experience come in handy. In this case, I particularly liked the photo and there was no possibility of recapturing the moment, as the baby is now 19 months old. I haven't got to the stage of giving up on this portrait, yet, but I must admit that it is giving me more challenges than I anticipated.

Can you see the differences between this picture and the previous one? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Newborn Portrait - Baby Skin

The skin tone for this portrait should be delicate, since the baby is only about one week old. Yet, the skin colour is very red and that is proving to be a challenge. I am burnishing over the red with pale peach and white to blend further and tone down the colour.

At this stage, I'm still not certain of success with this project. The next session of work will be telling. What do you think?