Category Archives: Sketchbook Portraits

Week 7’s portrait sketches

I made a bit of a course correction this week i my sketchbook. I am getting more confidant with the shape of heads I draw thanks to my skull studies, but I have still been having some issues with aligning features of faces (especially when the face is at an angle or from imagination). Thus I took a step away from my tonal studies and back to linework and symbols.

This wasn’t as an exercise in developing my rendering skills, but as a way of improving my perception of faces. I was not so much focused on creating entirely photo-realistic sketches here, but instead making sure the symbols have the correct positioning on the face.

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I had been developing a new technique here which is quite minimal and allows for a bit of freedom in creating the face. What I usually do is use a circle as a base, sketch the shape of the whole head on top of that, then fill in the features. But what I found with this was that I was then restricted with the bounds of the head, and one slight error in placement could effect the whole face drastically.

This time I instead I would draw the base circle, then a cross for the representing the level of the eyes and the vertical middle of the face. From here I began filling in the features of the face, and then drew the head around that. I found this much easier and less restrictive, although it is easier to stretch the face by accident.

I plan to combine this with my tonal style from now on.

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I also did some quick tonal sketches as usual, as well as trying a more precise technique (I didn’t like it).

Week 6’s Portrait Sketches

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Week 6’s sketchbook consists of mostly skulls, and also some quick studies. I know I said I would put them on hold but I was in the mood for them so…

The skull studies are certainly helping. I keep having to remind myself that the skull is almost as deep as it is tall and that the chin curves back a bit towards the bottom, but I am reminding myself less and less which is a good thing. I’ve also just been doodling skulls absent mindedly in other sketch/notebooks with a deal of success, a few more weeks should hammer the proportions into me.

The timed studies were met mostly with success. Hair is still and issue that needs revolved. I will be spending next week doing longer studies focused more on hair , specifically the hair line and volume (if not the flow of strands themselves). Thus expect the faces next week to be a bit basic.

Week 5’s Portrait Sketches

A bit late with this sketchbook dump but here it is!

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I continued looking into different expressions this week, although not as much as I would have hoped for. I feel I have improved greatly in understanding the stucture of the face and how it contorts, but there at still some issues to address. At the forefront is the issue I previously mentioned about the skull under the face, and how I often squash or stretch it which in turn squashes/stretches the face.scan 2I also spent some time testing my memory this week. This involved sketching people with little more that a few glaces for reference, and trying to remember what I have learned about the structure of the face when determining how shadows would fall. I also had a few attempts at creating faces from my imagination, to varying degrees of success. I think for the next few weeks I will put this on the backburner and focus on studying expressions and the skull, but I will pick it up again.

Also, have some doodles from the class debate:

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Week 4’s Portrait Sketches

This weeks sketchbook dump coming right up!

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I didnt get as much life/live drawing done this week as I would have liked and definitely need to improve on this. Drawing from photos is fine but seeing the head in 3d helps so much in recognising and avoiding flaws. I have been using photos of faces I am familiar with in an attempt to counteract this, to varying degrees of success.

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I realise I am still struggling a bit with faces, especially when awkward angles or strong expression are present. It seems I get worse the longer I consistently draw too, 3 portraits with 15 minute breaks between end up much better than 3 drawn right after each other. However this is merely down to my concentration and not something any technique or tutorial can magically solve.scan 3

Whilst this new method of drawing technique is certainly improving my speed and skills, I really must begin looking at tutorials and methods employed by other artists if I want to seriously improve. At this point it is 50/50 if the portrait ends up looking good at the end, and I need to study and understand the face in order to rise above this.

Week 3’s Portrait Sketches

Here are the collected pages of my sketches from this week.

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I began my sketches in the technique I have always used, underlying framework with reinforced line work on top. However, as Ryan quickly noticed, this was proving ineffectual and I was spending more time fiddling with details than studying and understanding the face. Instead he introduced me to a much more useful method, looking at the shape of areas of tone rather than of assets of the face. As you can see the quality immediately improved, as well as the speed. The resulting sketches took less than half the time of the the line-work ones and I believe look much better.

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My only issue with this method is that it doesn’t teach me the structure of the face as precisely as I would like. Its very much a “Does this shade go here? No. Why is it wrong?” rather than a “This goes here because…” learning curve. It is certainly good for sketching existing faces, but at this point I am not sure it would do me much good in creating my own. Combined with further reading and practice I believe it will however.At least for now it is giving me a massive cconfidence boost.