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Pencil copy of William Bouguereaus painting of Gabrielle Cot.
I feel I especially could need some help on hair and shadowing, but all critique is very welcome.
#1 Is the latest update.
#2 Is my first try
#3 The original
Last edited by Isabell N; July 20th, 2008 at 06:24 AM. Reason: Updating
Wow. Beautiful painting.
Her chin is much smaller and more pointed. That's the most obvious anatomical fault.
As a drawing, it's too gray. Don't try to match oil with pencil for tonal range (it can be done, but it's a slow and painstaking job). Figure out where you want the focus to be, and put your darkest dark there. Pick your battles. I recommend that you give her pupils. Make two dark areas -- as dark as your tool will go -- directly under the highlight in the eye.
Pupils are, of course, perfectly round...but I would be more concerned with darkness than shape. My mother had some old-fashioned portrait training, and she was taught to make the line directly above the iris the darkest thing on the painting. Rules like that are a little too pat for me, but it does work.
Aw, shoot. Real simple paintover. Two rough black spots and two rough lines, but look how it makes the expression more vivid:
Thank you, Stoat!
I really agree that it is to grey, I'll try to do something about that. That thing about the eyes is interesting, and it does seem to work.
You've been a lot of help.
It improved a lot.
Are you trying a master copy or just reference? If you're going for a copy I would really look at the piece and you'll see a lot of things are still off.
The most important is that her head slants to the left (her left), you missed that no.
Her lips are not as full.
Her chin is not feminine enough. There is no shame in drawing a chin more 'petite', drawing it too manly on the other hand won't be taken in great gratitude by your subject however.
You could try to finish up the hair. Try to visualize her hair as block and forms. Find out where the darks and lights are, where the planes are. And try to block in her hair as planes ans shapes as best as you can.
Last edited by Aurelyx; July 18th, 2008 at 05:20 PM.
Aw, yeah. Much better.
You don't want to get so stuck in a "this is the way I draw an eye" frame of mind to do observation every time -- but I think it was very kind of nature generally to put the darkest object on the face (the pupil) right next to the brightest object (the reflection in the eye). Human beings are riveted by eyes anyway (you can put two darks spots on a piece of paper and a baby will follow it all around the room). It's always a safe place to put your best effort in the eyes.
A master copy, I guess. But I started the drawing very spontaneously...I didn't really think it through, so a lot of problems followed. I'm considering doing it over and trying to be more precise.
Thank you so much!
OK, so I am starting over again!
Here is how far I've got. (The original is lighter.)
I'm thinking that the eyes maybe are to round and the eye to right might be a bit to far down? The chin is still a bit to masculine, right? Anything else?
Last edited by Isabell N; July 19th, 2008 at 07:16 AM.
Yes, that drawing looks closer. I believe her left eye (the one on the right) extends a little more toward our right. There's something ever-so-slightly tilted about her eyes.
You know, he's done something very show-offy with her mouth: he's opened it a tiny fraction of an inch. There's a glimpse of bottom tooth in there. It's a beautiful but a terribly difficult thing to do. The flesh of the lips is thicker and teeth are further back than you think. You can't paint teeth too dark, because that looks awful, but you can't make them too white because her mouth is only open a little bit and not much light could get in.
It'a a charming pose, because only a very relaxed mouth can be open a tiny bit like that. But it's really tough to do properly, and you're probably better off not trying.
There are elements in a lot of paintings that I think are purely show-offery to other artists. Civilians have no idea how hard some things are to do. It's kind of flattering, because I look at it and think, "that bit there was aimed at ME!" Famous smarty-pantses like Albrecht Dürer and Caravaggio do this a lot.
My favorite example is Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus (below). The saint on the right, with his hands pointed straight at and straight away from the viewer, is pure "look ma, no hands!" Only, he's blown it -- bless his brilliant heart. The away hand is much too big (even bigger than the one coming toward us).
I have no idea about how I'm going to do the hair! I just can't make it look how I want it to. I guess it's a matter of practice though.
The hair on her forehead and the hair next to her ear, was really hard to draw, so I thought I'd replace them with some more swively locks.
Oh, and the thing with her eyes looking in different directions have been fixed.
Stoat, you're right about the lips thing, I tried and it didn't turn out that well. Haha.
That Caravaggio thing is pretty interesting. I like to think that he did it on purpose. Just for whatever reason. On the other hand it's pretty nice to know that even the great ones make mistakes. Makes you remember there's always improvements to be made.
Last edited by Isabell N; July 19th, 2008 at 04:16 PM.
The hair. I just don't know what to do about it! : /
Anything else to better?
Holy cow, Isabella! I can't tell you how much better the second image is. You've gone a long way toward capturing the sweet winsomeness of her expression.
Okay, here's the thing with hair -- and this painting is an especially good example. You don't paint it like hairs, because hair clumps together into shapes that look and behave more like satin ribbon. The highlights go sideways across each curling lock -- not following along the hairs.
Here, I've lightened up the image and painted over a little so you can see it better. This is actually easier to do with paint than pencil!
Hang on -- here's James Gurney explaining it better (with pitchers!).
Though...whether you should continue to try to refine this one, I'm not sure. I'd hate to see you overwork it.
Yeah, it's probably finished. I've learned a lot from it so I'm happy. Thank you for all the great advice!