Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Religious Sister - Building up skin tones

Rendering colour from a black and white reference photo is not as difficult as it sounds. Experience of colour is important, of course, because the choice of pigment, then, becomes straightforward. In this portrait, I am working up through the values in roughly the same order as I normally do. In fact, an advantage of the black and white photo is that it shows the contrast between the lights and the darks much clearer than from a colour photo.

A little guesswork is necessary, however, as I can't see the exact skin tones, so the final picture will be an impression, rather than a perfectly accurate depiction of the subject. The lack of clear detail, in the photo, is another reason why I'm not relying on small details to make this picture work.

At this stage, I still have many layers to apply to the lower half of the face, including the mouth. The rest of the face will need more peach and pink tones to bring the skin alive and to smooth it out. I am using smooth watercolour paper for this portrait and I am finding that, with my style, it is more suited to the harder pencils than the soft. Stonehenge paper, so far, has been the most versatile and pleasing surface that I have worked with.


  1. What a difference adding color makes, Vicky! I'm interested in seeing this one emerge because I couldn't figure out how you would manage with such a poor photograph but I can see that you are on top of things :) Good luck!

  2. Thinking back to some of your other projects, where you mentioned that you sometimes make your reference photo black and white to get an idea of the lights and darks, I can see how that would help with this project. However, the colouring must be far more difficult in this picture. At least that's how it looks to me. Your picture looks really good!

  3. I don't think I ever feel on top of things with my art, Mary. I suffer with each picture and I'm never completely satisfied. With writing, it's different. I enjoy writing and, then, reading it, afterwards - maybe, I'm not so concerned about producing good writing as good art.

    Thank you for your encouragement, Mary:)

  4. Thank you, Immy. In some ways, the end result is only going to be as good as the reference photo, but, by adjusting my style, I can improve it to a point. As with all my other pictures, I won't know how successful I've been until much closer to the end.

    I appreciate your comment, Immy - thank you:)


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