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Step-by-Step Portrait Sketch

A couple weeks ago, my group painted the same model that we used to do the demonstration this week.  I saved more steps along the way and thought it might be nice to see the evolution of painting her in more detail.

First step: laying down the foundation.  I want the generally shape of the model's head right away.  Usually I can find this by nailing down the dark hair color, and what shape it is.

Second, I tackle skintones.  By this stage, I should see the model on the paper, though probably it will be very blocky.

Now I start refining.  This is mid first pass of refining.  Still very rough, but all of the most important features are there.

Most of the time my painting looks like this.  It's kinda a good sketch, but the only changes are very small little ones.

Finally all those little changes build up to make a fairly polished face.  At that point I can start working the face into the composition—finding ways to unify the figure and the background.

At this point, I finish and am mostly satisfied with my work, but I never consider this done.  I always need to let it sit overnight.

After I've slept on the painting (not literally), I tweak the values, the edges, and a few details.  Then I consider the piece finished.

It's good to get back at this.  It's been too long.

Portrait Sketch Demonstration

I did a demonstration on Wednesday!  A great opportunity to stretch my public speaking skills, which need much stretching.

I took the opportunity to go over my "7 Essential Skills Artists Use" content.  I learned that I probably want to short the skill set, using the seventh as a sort of prologue to the other six skills.  I also learned that I probably don't want to go over the skill set while I'm trying to demonstrate painting a portrait.   Not unless I figure out a way to unify the two.  At times it felt like I was giving two different lectures simultaneously.   Lesson learned.

 So here's how the sketch went:

First I nailed down the general proportions.

Next I worked on creating more detail.

With the computer I can work on composition late in my painting, allowing me to save this complex subject for later in my talk.

Finally, I surprised people by breaking out some old photos from the late 1800's and reformatting the model's hair and dress to look older.

I never post a painting as is.  I always let it sit a night at least, and then touch it up.  This is what I did to the painting just now.  The composition needed a little tweaking, and the neck had some muddy color, and some of the edges needed a little something.

We painted the model a couple weeks ago, so you might want to check out that step-by-step, too!  I've got a few more stages saved.

I hope you enjoy!