A Pencilly Afternoon

As you may recall, my Pencil Portraits class will begin again, on 2/17/21. It’s a lovely class with a great instructor, social distancing, real people! None of this virtual stuff, which has its place, but doesn’t cut it for me. However, that is another story.

For my previous two Pencil Portrait classes, I spent the entire time – 2 hours a day in class for 5 weeks to do one portrait in each session. I learned a lot and got some good results. This time around, though, I am actually “prepping” for the class. I want to be able to render a likeness that is recognizable, but I want to try to do a portrait in each session. That means a portrait in two hours, for a total of 4 portraits (we are meeting for 4 weeks this time, with a possible 5th depending on what the class wants).

Thus, I have decided to refer to various how-to books in my library, as well as work with other resources, such as YouTube. With as many resources at hand, I just need to sit down and work on things. Today’s focus is on proportions and positions of the eye, nose, ears, and mouth in a frontal view and in profile, as well as some practice with shading – as I’ve noted, my ability to render shadows and contrast gets lost when I work with color.

Above are studies from the book Drawing Portraits for the Absolute Beginner by Mark and Mary Willenbrink.

More from the Willenbrink’s book as well as a face I drew the other day. 

Shading studies with a look at where light hits a sphere from different directions.  Not too sure how realistic my results are, but in a way, just doing it and thinking about it is perhaps more important.  Being conscious of shadows is the whole point.  I learned a lot from a video by Xabio Arts, which is below:

Solving the problems of drawing means putting tools in your art supplies – mental ones for reference with a pencil (or pen, or brush!).

More shading, and a face.  Per the Willenbrinks, the face is about 5 eyes wide – which I know – and 7 eye-widths high – which I never learned.  Now that is a good trick.  From there – a couple of faces and shadows.

A face on a singe sheet of paper, using guides from the Willenbrink’s book as well as from a video on YouTube from Xabio Arts on drawing the face straight-on.

Now, profiles.  I really did not get the Willenbrink’s proportions very well.  Something eluded me.  The heads just don’t seem in proportion.  Thus, some YouTube videos on drawing the head in profile.  Not much hit me until . . .

. . . I came across a profile video done in 2015 by Liron Yanconsky on YouTube.  These are his proportions, and they work a lot better for me and how I want to set up proportions.  You can see his video below.

And the final drawing of the day is below.

Art is personal and we all have our own way of doing things.  It’s so interesting that, although we are taught the same thing, how our minds and bodies put it out on paper can be so different.

I’ve also realized that I never have had a drawing course, or read a book, that says “Do it this way!”  Technical mastery is not just in knowing how your medium works, but also how to render the real world around you.  This mastery becomes a jumping-off point to your own adventrues.