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Entries in portrait (4)


Game of Thrones Drawing Tutorial

After the tragic conclusion of season three of Game of Thrones, I wanted to try a pencil drawing of Daenerys Targaryen.  Mind you, I haven't done any graphite pencil drawings since college so the thought was somewhat daunting. Fortunately, once I had my sketch down it all came back to me!

I started off by drawing a light sketch. Try not to make your lines too dark, we will use sharp and soft edges to build the shape.

Once the sketch was down, use a darker grade pencil to start enhancing your dark areas.

Starting to look like a face!  Look to your reference photo and notice the really dark areas. If you build the dark areas you will be able to blend out and create the softer/lighter areas. Look at the nose, see how we can start to create shape by blending the darks?

When you are ready to blend, a tortillon tool is best.  It's basically tightly rolled paper that allows you "push"the graphite around to create that blended look.

As you blend, you may find some of your dark areas have lost some of their depth. Don't be afraid to go back in with a darker pencil to continue to build the levels!

Woof, time to start with the hair.  Drawing/painting hair has been an evil nemesis of mine since I first started portraits.  I started with wavy lines and used varying depths of shading to create the flowing appearance.
 I found that is was easier to add the background at this point so I could use it to show the dimension between the head and the background.
When adding the dark pencil for the shirt, I went back in with an eraser to add highlights.  Once you have your highlights, you can enhance them by using a darker pencil around the highlight. Adding a part in the hair made a huge difference!

For the final touch, I went in with my eraser and erased some fine lines to add texture and highlight to the hair, and Viola!
Have fun!



Painting Baby Ben

Recently, I have been really into giving art as gifts for special occasions.  So when my college roommate had her first baby, I knew I wanted to paint her something for mother's day.  What better subject to paint than her beautiful baby boy!

I thought I would share a tutorial for this painting.  I really enjoyed the process.  I used oil paints for this portrait so it took a LONG time (about a year all together). I used their announcement card as a reference photo.

The early photos are pretty poor quality, so bear with me.

Once I had a sketch down on the canvas I started filling in color.  By placing dark colors down early, I was able to build the shadows and details.

 At this point I really start going in with dark colors to highlight the shadows.  Pay attention to all the nooks and crannies! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Don't be afraid to go too dark with oil paint! You can always lighten it by layering. That's the beauty of the medium.

I chose to use a thinning medium to change the consistency of the paint as the face progressed.  I use Turpentine. The Winsor & Newton Oil Painting Solvents are affordable and effective.  You can find them at your local craft store or Dick Blick online.

Thinning mediums (like Turpentine) are solvents that are mixed with oil paints to change the consistency. Basically changing the paint from fat to thin.  When you see oil paints that are glossy and shiny, chances are the paint was mixed with a thinner.

For the hair, I used a fan brush like this Royal Langnickel Sofia Fan from Dick Blick.

 This type of brush allows you to "fan" color on to the canvas, while creating a hair texture.

Here are some close-ups:

I went to Michaels to have this little guy framed. Their custom framing department is always helpful and they have a decent selection of frames and mouldings.

It was so special to give this portrait to my friend and hear now 2 year old Bennett point and say "that's Bennett!"



Dog Portrait Tutorial

I was recently commissioned to do a portrait of an adorable pup named Fergus.  I thought I would share the progress as Fergus' portrait comes to life!
This is the photo I received as reference:

First, I made a pot of coffee. After staring a the photos and making a plan of attack, I started by creating a line sketch on tracing paper. I liked the ears from another reference photo so I sketched those. 
 I like using graphite transfer paper to get my sketch onto my canvas.  By using graphite paper you only have to sketch once, and you don't have to worry about erasing on the canvas.  I like Sally's Graphite paper

Once the sketch is on the canvas, I start by using my dark colors.  You can always lighten oil paints because they are transparent.

 Continue to build the dark areas and blend lighter colors as you go.
 Once a base was down, I went back with heavier dark colors to build shadows and contours
 Blend. Blend. Blend.
 Once we get to this point it's time to stop until it dries.  By letting this paint dry, we can layer paint on top, without having it blend. Oil paints take about 4-6 days to dry, depending on the moisture in the air.  Oils take even longer if you use a thinning medium such as Turpentine (1-2 weeks!).

 Once he's dry we can go back to adding darks to the nose/mouth

Painting eyes can be very scary. It's all about layers! Start with the basics, black pupil, brown iris, reflection highlights. Around the eyes, this little guy has dark fur. Add it. It will look really dark and awkward but remember we blend and layer everything!

 Adding darks around the nose/mouth
 Reference check! Notice how light his face is in the picture? We will get there, but we start dark and work towards the light.  Before we finish, a fluffy brush can help soften all the colors. I can't do more to the face until it dries (4-6 days) so on the the body!
 Don't forget the bandanna!
 Starting to bring in the whites in the face

With the basic colors of the body and bandana down, it's time once again to let him dry.

 After 2 weeks of drying, I went back to start lightening his face and body.  Don't be afraid to be aggressive with the paint, you will need to blend it anyways! My client sent me several photos and wanted to "blend" the looks.  When all is done, the painting will not be as light as the photo.

Adding the darks around the eyes was a challenge. I used a fine brush to add lines of color and then blended it with a feathery brush.

 Next step was to work on the nose.
 Use white to add the "wet nose" look

 Almost done! just have to finish the background, lighten his face a little more, and add details (whiskers, hair detail, finish bandanna).

 Some close-ups:


Fred the Rooster

Hello again!
I thought I'd share a portrait I did of an unlikely subject! A rooster! Painting portraits does not have to be limited to humans.  How many fuzzy/feathery faces have you seen that you would like to capture?
A dear friend of mine has chickens.  Among her flock is a hard-headed rooster named Fred.  This cocky rooster (pun intended) has quite the personality. So when my friend got engaged I knew I wanted to give them a painting as an engagement gift.  Who better to paint than the boss of their household, Fred!

Because I wanted to be able to layer the paint to add texture to the feathers and wattle (who knew that dangling thing was called a wattle?!), I started with the dark tones. Once I had the darks down, I started adding lights and layers. The feathers were the hardest part. By alternating shades and using coarse and fine/feathery brushes, the texture began to develop.
Smoothing, blending, and adding highlights.

 Fred the rooster deserves to be the star of the show, so I chose a blended color background.  Once the painting was dry, all he needed was a gaudy frame and a signature!

- M.