Using the TV Guide as your guide (part 1)

23 Feb

I’ve been drawing a few famous people from my local TV guide (print version). I’m doing this to improve my portrait drawing skills. The low quality of the print ensures that I’m not copying the photo, but, instead, that I need to add some of my own interpretation for the larger version.

You see, the portrait class at my local community college has a 2-week break and I want to blow my instructor’s socks off with a jump in quality. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself, because what I really want is to improve radically. Trying to do so by pretending I’ll impress the instructor is as good a method as any.

Here is what I’ve done so far.

Charlize Theron1
1. (Feb 20) While this sketch of Charlize Theron seems solid enough in quick passing, there are some things that could be better (as there always are). That is a good thing, because it means I’m still progressing.

The way I set up the sketch was different from what I did previously. I find tried to visualize the head as a block in perspective and tried to see it without the hairdo. Next, I set up the proportions of the features (where I made a mistake, by making the nose slightly too long), and corrected the initial outline of the head and neck accordingly. Finally, I added the hairdo and the shading on the face and neck, and made the background darker.

2. (Feb 21) Used another photo from the TV guide, showing a photo of the character Krystle from the TV series “Dynasty”, played by Linda Evans. The photo was tiny, so I had to do a lot of guessing.

Notice that her left eye is drawn too high, because I had the angle of her head guessed wrong. Now I come to think of it, if you see so much of the top of the head, the model must be tilting her head forward, with her chin closer to her chest.

So it all comes down to visualizing what the character is doing before you even put a pencil on paper.

Even so, I used this sketch to practice my rendering, especially of the hair. Because the eye is placed wrong this will not be put in any portfolio. I guess it is an important piece for study, because it teaches me (and hopefully some of you), that you really need to think about your subject, and reason about it internally.

So why does she look up to the camera, tilting her head down? Well, it gives a cuter look, or at least a more youthful look. Children are much smaller than adults, and always have to look up to adults to have eye contact. If an adult tilts his or her head forward (even if it is a slight tilt) to another adult, and looks up, it signals: “I’m no threat to you!” Conversely, if an adult tilts tilts his or her head back and looks down upon another adult, he or she signals: “I’m so much more than you.” It would be a threatening pose.

3. (Feb 22) While drawing the character Blake of the tv series “Dynasty” (played by John Forsythe), I realized that the drawing class at community college is perhaps a bit demanding, and I need at least a day to recover from the experience. I guess it’s the combination of being in a strange place, having peer pressure and a live model that is tiring the part of my brain that does art.

Nonetheless, I kept trying to do more sketches that day, to get it out of my system.

Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)4
4. (Feb 22) I love the character of Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), although I have only seen one of the movies of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. He is quite over the top and instantly lovable.

As you can see, there are a lot of things wrong with this sketch, which I was not able to correct (yet).

True Grit - Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges)5
5. (Feb 23) Although I’m more a John Wayne fan for Westerns, I guess Jeff Bridges does a nice Rooster Cogburn in this remake of the 1969 movie “True Grit”, at least on the posters. The pose in the sketch is based on a photo in my TV guide.

Nicolas Cage6
6. (Feb 24) I used a movie poster in my TV Guide to draw this approximation of Nicolas Cage. I know his likeness is kinda wonky, but it is still a strong portrait. I wished we had people like this in our portrait class at my local community college. That would certainly rock, big time.

I will continue mining the tv guide and whatever I come across to practice my portrait drawing skills. See you in part 2.

2 Responses to “Using the TV Guide as your guide (part 1)”

  1. gonzalexx February 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Very cool, Rene! Great practice.
    You know… I think your John Wayne looks like our friend, Mark Rudolp! LOL!!!!! (I’ll be he likes that).

    • Rene February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

      I’m glad you like them. However, it is Jeff Bridges, not John Wayne.

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