Monday, February 20, 2017

Portrait: Kim Novak

Here's a new movie star portrait. I don't do many of these now, although they were the mainstay of my work when I was a teenager.

I'll be honest, I didn't like working on this, for reasons I won't go into here. But I never let that stop me from creating work as best I can, and I think the end result is pretty good.

See some of my process below the cut:

I didn't take many scans of this while I was working (I share an office with my father, and he uses the scanner as an extra shelf, and really, I just couldn't be bothered shifting all the stuff off it at the end of every day =P) so I don't have a progress gif, but I do have a bunch of photos I shared on my Instagram Story while I was working. They've long since vanished from there, but I saved them, and will put them here for a look at my process. They're not of the best quality, I'm afraid - my phone is pretty old and doesn't take the best photos!

I started out by ruling up an enlargement grid. I printed out my reference, and ruled a 1cm grid over it, and then ruled a 1.5cm grid on my sketching paper. Accuracy is important with this type of portraiture!

I then used the grid to help me draw light outlines of all the features. I focus on the facial features, things like hair don't have to be millimetre perfect, so I just rough them in:

When I had finished the outlines, I scanned them in, increased their contrast and turned them red in Photoshop, and overlayed them on my reference. That way I could see where I had gone wrong, and fix my sketched lines accordingly:

Here are my finished outlines (slightly out of focus):

I always start with the right eye, I don't know why:

Here's a timelapse of me drawing the eye. That's 10 minutes of work, and it's not, of course, finished -there are lots of small details to go - but it's a good start:

This portrait had a lot of medium shadow, which I find the hardest part of a portrait - everything is pretty solidly grey, but not quite. It's tricky to get right! Everything was looking pretty awful at this stage, but I'd got the background in. I had to do that before I started the hair:

Some more progress:

Unfinished shading always looks awful. If I'm doing portraiture demonstrating (which I was not doing with this portrait) I always try to get out of this stage as quickly as possible, because it looks like I have no idea what I'm doing!

My trusty electric eraser got a big workout for her hair. I love this little gadget, I don't know what I'd do without it! (It and my blending tools - you can get realistic hair with JUST the eraser, everything is too sharp and defined):

Here's what the portrait looked like when I had almost finished. At this stage I scanned it in, and overlayed it on my reference again. Then I carefully flicked between the two, and fixed up all the little places where I had gone wrong, as the likeness wasn't great here. The more beautiful someone is, the easier it is to completely lose the likeness with just a few misplaced lines. By switching back and forth from the reference to the portrait, I can really see what needs fixing. Most of my issues related to her lower lip and left eye, but I did minor touch-ups all over:

And here's that final result again:

This is a graphite portrait. I used a 0.5 #B lead mechanical pencil, an #8B solid graphite pencil, a plastic pencil eraser, a kneadable eraser, an electric eraser, and a blending stump, tissues, cotton buds and makeup pads for blending. If you want to know more about the materials I use for portraiture, this old tutorial is still valid.

17 hours work.

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