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Old 11-22-2010, 06:14 AM   #1
Henry Wong Henry Wong is offline
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Graphite drawings of some actors and Barack Obama

Hello, I'm relatively new to this forum. These were some very recent graphite pencil drawings, they were all done on A3 size pages. I'm not so much interested in likeness, but rather on my style, and perhaps any mistakes in shading I have made.

Some of my concerns with these are:

Whether I have expressed the difference between masculine and feminine characteristics effectively

perhaps some tips on how to more effectively represent the changes in contour of the human face. Does this ability simply come from practice?

Making the distinction between pale and dark skin. The first two drawings are of women with very white asian skin, whilst the second is of dark skin.

I also find it difficult to include a lot of detail into the drawings. Despite their A3 size, I am still unable to clearly express details, such as the subtle changes in colour of the lips and the corners of the eye lids.

I also have a question, how do I more effectively achieve resemblance in a portrait drawing? I have tried scanning my drawings and juxtaposing it on the original picture, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with proportions, and yet, my drawing some how still looks different and does not effectively trigger recognition. Would you say that achieving likeness depends on photographic similarity, or would it be possible to achieve likeness despite having slightly different proportions?
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:08 PM   #2
Julie Deane Julie Deane is offline
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Location: Gainesville, GA
Posts: 1,298
Hi Henry,

I really like your work. It's quite well done, and it's great to see an artist pushing for ever better quality.

Can't answer all your questions, but about likeness: yes, I think it's possible to make mistakes in proportions but still have a recognizeable likeness. As long as the proportions aren't too far off.

Personally, I think in two modes: in the first mode, one is in a "gestalt" state of mind, that is, looking at the whole picture. It's as if one is staring at a point beyond the portrait but simultaneously taking in the general shapes, and checking to see if they, the main shapes of the face, are correct. In the second mode, one looks at the details, such as eye shape. Does this make sense?

Somebody else who can write better, please jump in and help explain!
Julie Deane
Member of Merit, Portrait Society of Atlanta
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Old 11-28-2010, 10:34 PM   #3
Debra Rexroat Debra Rexroat is offline
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I think at some time in our individual art development we have each drawn from photographs like these -- I know I did. However it was not until I began to draw the human face and figure from life that I began to understand the advantages of drawing directly from the model.

To me the first and greatest advantage is that you are making an image that is uniquely your own, instead of relying on another artist/photographer for the composition, lighting, etc. Another advantage to drawing from life is that we see in 3-d and the challenge of portraying that on the 2-d surface forces us to use soft and hard edges and lost lines to make forms curve away from us. A final advantage is that while the photograph distorts, both subject matter and values, drawing from life gives one the advantage of selecting what shapes, proportions and values the artist wishes to emphasize, shift, or tweak to get the effects he or she wants.

Color is tough to represent in a black and white medium like graphite and charcoal, but value isn't. Getting the values in a black and white drawing to depict different skin tones means studying the relative values and value shifts very closely. Practice on a still life or two to get the hang of minute value changes between full light and deepest shadow. Draw the egg, an apple or orange, and a dark shape like a plum, or an 8 ball from a pool table, to learn how to make your values represent different colors. Once you can make a graphite drawing of a lemon make the viewer think of yellow, you will have gotten the hang of using value in place of color.

Drawing from life will train your eyes to see what you are drawing and help you improve your rendering of those shapes and values much better than copying a photograph can. Keep up the good work, but also remember to push yourself to grow.
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