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.


  1. I really like seeing what you have done with this. Just little things but boy are they important and they make it looks so different.

  2. Now that the back of the head is coloured I can really see Jordan appearing. I can see now that your colouring is looking much better. It must be very hard work though!

  3. Hi Mum.
    I think the picture is great. Some one is gone buy it mum. One more thin when can we have the biscuts.
    Love from Melanie xo xo

  4. You're so right, Autumn - the little things can make such a difference. Sometimes, I'm a bit hestitant to post half-finished photos of the portrait because it can look so awful before the final layers are done. Even when I think it is finished, I often make important adjustments, at the end. It pays to have a vision of the final goal.

    Thank you for your kind comment and your support, Autumn:)

  5. Yes, half a head looks a bit weird, doesn't it, Immy?! I try to adjust the photos to look as much like the picture as I can, compensating for the difference in light, etc, but some photos are better than others.

    This one has been a bit of a challenge and, although in some ways I think I could improve it if I started again, I think the main thing is that it has changed the way I will approach my pictures, in the future. I've learnt more about technique which I'm really pleased about.

    Thank you, Immy, for your support and feedback:)

  6. I shall visit your blog just to read Melanie's comments!

    Looking good, Vicky. I am guessing that once you have Jordan's skin right, that will be the most difficult part of the drawing done.

    Keep working: it will be worth it.

  7. Thank you, Sue. Yes, I think that Jordan's skin is the most important part of this portrait - I'm feeling that the level of success achieved here will make or break the final result.

    I'm going to move on from the face, for the moment, as I've reached the point where I need to see it in the context of its surroundings, in order to assess it properly.

    Melanie's a character - I'm glad to see that she is attracting visitors to my blog! Thank you for your support, Sue:)

  8. Looks great! I'm glad you decided to keep going with it!

  9. Thank you for your feedback, Mary:)

    I think it might be starting to coming together, at last.

    Hope you're enjoying your holiday, Mary!


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