Can I really call myself a portrait Artist?
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Thread: Can I really call myself a portrait Artist?

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    Can I really call myself a portrait Artist?

    Hey Everyone, I came here for some type of reassurance , advice or anything else you want to share.
    I make alot of portraits for practice and such, and (to my understanding) they turn out to be pretty good, but the fact of the matter is that they are of people I don't know. After I draw someone I don't know I want to do more but this time of someone I do know. I use the same method for both but it just doesn't look like the person i do know. I throw it away out of frustration instead of just analyzing where I went wrong. Anyway, does anyone else have this trouble? Any Solutions? ( I wasn't sure whether to post this here or artist discussion ) I forgot where the references come from for the first two. Looking back at the third picture I can see alot of mistakes.
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    Yeah, usually when it's of someone you know you can spot mistakes more easily because you're familiar with how their face should look. At any rate, thinking more about the structure of the head (also look at head-drawing/construction methods) instead of just copying the shapes you see will help. Your drawing doesn't entirely look like that girl in the photo - it's just a tad off in places - more measuring and comparing with the reference more frequently will help.

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    These look more or less OK to me. You should probably post some of your drawings of people you DO know--along with reference photos if possible--so the commenters here can offer feedback.

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    Yes, measuring and comparing more will help. Also try putting the ref on a layer on top of your sketch to see how far out you were. This is the sort of skill that will just get better with practice -- don't need to learn new things to be able to copy photos better, just keep doing it.

    But if you want to capture the likeness, the essence of people you know, it might be worth learning a bit about caricature. Tom Richmond's The Mad Art Of Caricature is excellent. It goes into all the little details that make people go, "that's her!". I got the book after someone commented that I tend to average out facial features. I think it's been helping me to know which features to exaggerate just a touch in classical portraits to enhance the likeness. (Plus it's a whole lot of fun.)

    And if you want to be able to draw things that aren't just photos (imagined poses, for example), then as Krysjez mentions, learning the structure of the head is vital. I link to a bunch of construction guides in a post here (second paragraph).

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    I'm no technical expert (I'm self taught) or professional but I do make some money from graphite portrait commissions so maybe I can offer some of my experience here: I would say it's difficult to really nail a likeness with the amount of work you've put in to each of these cases. I still have serious anxiety for the first few hours of rendering a portrait because it looks nothing like the person it’s supposed to be but I’ve learned to work through that now. Experience has taught me to carry on and eventually the likeness emerges. The drawings you’ve posted may look better if you worked them more – when I finish a portrait, there is usually no paper showing through, everything has some graphite on it (because nothing is actually pure white on a human face).

    How do you lay these out when starting a portrait? Do you grid them up or sketch and lightbox them or just crack on and get drawing? Accuracy is important in achieving a good likeness, sometimes millimetric differences make or break a likeness, it’s extremely difficult to hit a likeness by just cold drawing a photo. It’s hit and miss, you can’t afford hit and miss when you have a paying client expecting a likeness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by William Scott View Post
    Hey Everyone, I came here for some type of reassurance , advice or anything else you want to share.
    I make alot of portraits for practice and such, and (to my understanding) they turn out to be pretty good,
    There's still a ton of room for improvement. Your measurement isn't all that accurate. Your values aren't all that accurate. Your rendering isn't great. You could use a better understanding of structure. You're turning a blind eye to your mistakes, and then getting frustrated when you draw someone you know and your mistakes get in your face where they can't be ignored. There's really no way around this than to acknowledge your fuckups so you can try and fix them the next time around.

    I've found that it's easier to deal with mistakes in your older art. Go back a few months and grab a picture you did that you no longer really care about. Look at the reference and pick out where you made mistakes. Then do two things. One -- write those mistakes down and remember to watch out for them next time you make a picture. Two -- re-do the old picture and see whether you can improve it.

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    Thanks guys for your input , always room for improvement , I drifted away from measurements (except for the really basic divide face in 3rds and other) in fear that i would get too mechanical and lose emotion. I think im going to do a step by step, even if I mess up.

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    OmenSpirits is offline Commercial-Illustrator in-training, NOT an artist. Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    Check this guy's tuts out. I've enjoyed the info he's shown.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...5WEc23462tQzBg

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    As far as I can assume I think you should gain a better understanding for the forms of a head. This means, thinking of a head in 3dimensions, how shadow falls and why it falls like it does, how far transitions reach etc. But also plan your outlines. Besides constructing the head, features like the eyes, nose etc. usually have pretty unique forms. Especially noses can be troublesome to draw, as it's completely depending on the type of nose how they look from certain angles.

    That's also, why everyone always suggests to draw from real live. Drawing portraits from photographs of persons you don't know is limiting your chance on analyzing the forms - you only see a certain perspective on forms you don't understand yet, and maybe the photograph was even manipulated with photoshop. Try drawing self portraits, as many as possible, look at your own face from every angle and under every light influence, take your time analyzing your face to find out why and how everything looks. This however mainly to gain an overall understaning. You should also ask your friends to draw them, it's crucial to draw other faces too in order to fill your head with different options of facial parties and skullforms.

    Whenever you're outside (train, waiting rooms etc.) analyze people's faces. It's one thing to save people's faces up in your head and recognize them, but consciously learning how their faces and facial parties look like from certain angles is something totally different which your brain needs to be trained in. It's like you save up everything you see, but you can't reconstruct it on paper because you don't have the understanding for those informations saved up. Then, sooner or later you'll save up so many faces and how they're constructed that it becomes more and more easy for you to draw portraits, with the result of having a lot more freedom in you possibilities, like drawing from photographs with satisfying results, change the face you're drawing to make it look different/better than your reference, adding your own style, breaking with certain rules, etc.

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