Sunday, September 26, 2010

Drawing it out

For the last year or so, when I'm bored, I've been drawing portraits of my friends from photos.

I have done a few upon request. I've given a few as presents. Mostly, I'm just doing this for my own entertainment.

Sean, the drawing of the man and the photo that got me started on my current portrait kick. I haven't drawn a lot of men, and he's a pretty inspiring guy. The most awesome person you'll ever meet, perhaps. Anyway, I think it's pretty obvious that I mostly draw women. He's very pretty in person, but not *quite* this feminine.

Here's my chikadee, all dressed up for a wedding. It will be a present, if I haven't given it to her yet. I wonder where I put that drawing...

Here's my gorgeous friend Gibbitt, from a photo of herself on her way to a dance party at Dragon*con. She's all blues and purples and greens in that photo, and I didn't realize til I drew this that the color is what makes it really special. Luckily, she's gorgeous enough to be breathtaking in black and white as well. Of all of my portraits posted to my deviantart gallery, this one's got the most favorites, I believe. Can't blame them.

This was a commission for a birthday gift. I don't do many group or couples portraits, and it's always interesting. Not only do the features have to be in proportion, but the two or more people have to be properly oriented in relation to each other as well. It helps that Amber is a perfectly average ladyheight, and her Tim is beanpole man. Made everything really strange to fit on a page.

This was another commission by the model, which turned into a birthday present from her husband. Or something. There were two commissions. But one gift. I was very sneaky. This was fun to draw. A dream to draw, even. There were challenges, but because it was a photoshoot situation, the lighting and shading were interesting and dynamic. With standard flashes, the shadows disappear and the light colors get blown out.. this is why faces look just a tiny bit fatter on film than in person. All the interesting shades are missing. Only the lightest and darkest make the cut. As the artist I usually spend a lot of time trying to imagine those shades back in. This is made much easier when the photo is as nice as this one was.

Here's another photo snapped by a pro of my friend Watcho. It was one of the photos I picked up when I was soliciting portrait practice jobs. I'm excellent at getting a likeness when the person is in a standard position: front facing, relaxed features. This was an entirely new thing where I had to get the likeness while most of her face was hidden behind her hand and she was sucking on a smoking thing. Interesting challenge. :)

My most recent drawing is... alright. Like the others, the scan makes my pencil texture scratchy instead of awesome. The likeness is.. alright. I was trying to mix it up a little again with the glasses and big happy smile as my challenges. For the record, drawing glasses sucks. They're these stupid little bits of plastic or metal and glass that should be shapes and shades and no big deal, but they're shapes and shades within shapes and shades and all curved and twisty and I kinda want to kill them. And smiles will always be tricky, what with teeth and muscles and whatnot. So I'm only mildly satisfied with this one, but happy with my progress.

As I draw I become more aware of my style, which I've always considered pretty traditional, especially when it comes to portraiture. But I'm seeing now that I have a slightly heavy hand and an eye for simplifying that works best with casual, organic images. The photos with more formal staging, or more expressive features don't look as good in my hand. I'm hoping to get more experience with facial expressions, but I can't discount that my pencil stroke and weight and shading usually creates the mood enough that the person in the portrait is almost an afterthought.

I'm ok with this to a degree. On one hand, it's kinda cool to leave my mark so obviously. But then again, what's the point of a portrait if the content is as much about the artist's stroke as the model?
Not sure I need to worry about it so much. We'll see which photo interests me next, and what I actually end up working on: the portrait, or my technique.

Anyway, you guys might be getting drawings of yourself or loved ones for any upcoming holidays. Don't bother to complain. Just be grateful I'm not going through a self portrait phase.

If you need to see the whole gallery, knock yourself out at


  1. Sean lookis super good-looking and I really like these pictures. Chika looks happy and confident - so lovely.

    I adore the sketch of DH and myself. Happy and healthy. It brings back lovely memories just to look at it.

    And how gorgeous is Cymerin?

  2. I've got some good looking friends, for certain!