Tag Archives: people

Sarah Jessica Parker

14 Apr

My guess was (and still is) that I keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and that those mistakes are preventing me from getting better at drawing (well there’s some progress). I want to escape “amateur hour” and get more serious about my craft.

I picked a photo from my TV guide of Sarah Jessica Parker and decided to stick to it as close as possible, using rather crude tools (4H pencil and Pentel Color Brush pen) for rendering a full body at such a small size (less than 20 cm high).

Sarah Jessica Parker

While the end result might not surprise you if you have followed me lately, how I came to this result is what interested me and might interest you too. So I recorded the full 20 minutes drawing session with my iPod Touch on a stand (mic stand with a clamp to hold the mic).

In the inking stage my voice becomes very soft, as I’m trying to see the whole picture. I’m sure I’m using both halves of my brain at that stage, preventing me to talk in a normal conversational voice. I’m sorry for that. I guess once my process is more established, I’ll be able to give more attention to talking to you guys and gals.

Some observations. Drawing what you see, isn’t literally drawing what you see, but rather observing, reasoning, forming an idea in your mind, and executing that idea. Since that idea can be wrong, it’s important to stay loose in the initial stages. As you can see in the video, I went into detail far too early, and made some wrong assumptions.

Furthermore, since inking is permanent, it’s important to form some kind of plan in your mind’s eye, and use the sketch to formalize that plan, containing little reminders and hints of what you were thinking. It’s about how to put something on paper, where and with what line quality. I think sketching should be an important part of the inking, and be used to annotate your though process. It isn’t a rendering, but rather a visual guide for the inking. A sketch is not a drawing, not a finished piece of art.

I need to change my attitude to sketching and treat it like the intermediate step it really is. Less is often better, because it’s less confusing for the inker (which is the same person here, but doesn’t have to be).

Using the TV Guide as your guide (part 2)

2 Mar

I’ve been drawing more 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 need to add some of my own interpretation. Furthermore, after the two-week break of the portrait class in my local community college, I want to impress people with the progress I can do on my own.

Albert Verlinde7
7. I didn’t use an eraser for drawing this portrait of Albert Verlinde, so that I would force myself to look carefully before I draw, as well as learn how to correct mistakes without an eraser.

John Wayne (non eraser art)8
8. Another drawing done without an eraser, this time of Western movie star John Wayne.

Lee Van Cleef9
9. I wanted to try two things here: use a colored pencil for an underdrawing, and use a technique to check if your drawing is correct from Bridgman. The first one failed (I couldn’t get the pencil markings to cover the Pentel lead), but the second one succeeded.

Basically it’s like this:

  1. draw a straight line through the root and base of the nose
  2. draw a straight line perpendicular to line 1, going through the base of an ear
  3. draw a “line” from the widest point of the cheek bone to the highest part of the chin
  4. draw a straight line through the intersection point of lines 2 and 3, and the base of the nose

All features (mouth, nose, eyes, ears, etc.) should line up with line 4.

I could see I had made a mistake, and after checking the 4 lines on the original, I was able to correct the drawing.

The pipe is a mess, though. While I drew it, I saw how it was constructed. Sorry.

Drawing from my TV guide
10. The disadvantage of drawing from low quality photos is that you need to do a lot of interpretation. Even so, the human figure is the human figure and there is some logic to its shape. It is finding this logic which puzzles me. Sometimes I get it, most of the times I don’t.

I started the sketch by drawing a block as the forehead, a plane underneath it, representing the cheek area, the cylinder of the teeth, and a horse shaped lower jaw. This might seem basic to some of you experienced artist, but for me it still is a big mystery.

Cameron Diaz from my TV guide11
11. This is what can happen if you just start drawing. Well, I did some preparation, but I didn’t do enough. A portrait like this, with my current skill level should take at least 3 hours. I took less than 30 minutes. No wonder it is all wonky.

Even in portrait class I often need 30 to 45 minutes to get the basics right, while others do that in less than a minute. I want to be faster, be I guess I have to be patient.

For the moment I’m just slow.

12. This was a warm-up sketch and drawing from my TV guide, which had a special about Westerns. I think I have never seen this movie, but judging from the description I wouldn’t like it very much, because of the excessive violence.

When making the sketch, I first tried to carefully draw the contours, looking for landmarks, angles and basic anatomy. Even so, I got the left of the drawing completely wrong and had to redraw it while the rest of the drawing was already done. This meant the chin is much too big, although it doesn’t seem too noticeable. In fact, it makes it even stronger than the original photo. The 3D perspective is off as well.

So while there is a lot of things wrong with this drawing, it still is a strong image, because I did pay so close attention to making it look impressive.

13. In modern Westerns, women aren’t the passive and cute beings anymore, but bad behaving actors that can sling a gun as well as any male cowboy.

To be continued…

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.

Hair, hair, hair

17 Dec

I need a stronger lamp, because while I made the drawing below I was sure I was shading inside the lines. However, once scanned I could see that was not the case. I saw a good lamp advertised in a home improvement store. It costs 75 euros, though.

Hair hair hair

The drawing was purely from imagination, based on the self-portraits of a few days ago. No, it isn’t I.

That is all.

Trying to sketch Jerzy

15 Nov

Jerzy Drozd speaks with a student.
Originally uploaded by Ann Arbor District Library

As a self-imposed drawing exercise I’m trying to create a convincing sketch of Jerzy Drozd, using this photo reference.

The difficulty is that I want to sketch it without looking at the paper.

Here is what I have so far.

Sketching Jerzy, first sketch

I’ve folded a big stack of paper, and am trying to get a better result than the above sketch.

After 50 minutes and quite a few sketches, my best version was this one.

Sketching Jerzy, part 2

Another thirty minutes later and my head exploded. Obviously, this is a mind-numbing exercise, especially because progress is so hard to spot.

Still, it is good for the soul to do things you hate doing, and still keep doing them, just to discipline yourself. It makes you appreciate the times you’re having fun all the more.

That is all.

(added November 16, 2009)

Sketching  Jerzy, part 3

So, this is what my best attempt was one day later. I can see some improvement. I guess I should keep this up. Being able to draw without looking at your drawing is a neat trick to have as an artist.