My Materials and Technique
My materials of choice:
Strathmore 400 series drawing paper: I like it for it's smooth finish and subtle tooth. It's also quite durable and will stand up to some abuse from an over-zealous eraser.
Cretacolor Monolith Woodless Graphite Pencils: I LOVE these! I had so much trouble with getting traditional pencils to sharpen without breaking, but there's no breakage with these. And I can even use the shavings as powder. They make nice smooth lines and give me a great range of tones for shading.
Design Kneaded Erasers: I sometimes draw more with this than my pencils. I love being able to press it down to a fine point, or a wide line, or any shape I need. They erase smoothly and allow for lifting a layer of graphite off without completely erasing it.
Kleenex tissues: For blending large areas. Sounds a little weird, but it works.
Design blending stumps: For small areas.
Krylon Fixative: Seals the finished drawing and protects it from damage.
Jeweler's Nylon Gloves: To keep my fingers off your drawing. Oils from skin damage artwork, so this is the best way to ensure that I don't accidently smear anything.
My style is one of technical accuracy and emotional influence combined. As these drawings are portraits, I try to get as close to photorealism as I possibly can, but with a slight touch of expressionism added in. I use a blended technique to produce smooth tones, but I leave the final layer of graphite unblended for detail.
My shading tends to be varied and intense. I like a little drama... in art anyway.
I draw the hair as separate strands, but I do not try to reproduce the hairstyle of the person exactly. I just make the hair fit the general shape and flow of the subject's hair.
I shade the eyes with subtle freeform shading to produce the cloud-like effect that lends a little emotion to my subjects' eyes.
Noses are the bane of my existence.
My style is still developing at this point, so as I'm learning to be a better artist, it's likely to change over time. Hopefully this will make for better portraits!
This is Daniel - he looks a little scary in this picture, but he's a really nice guy.
By the way, the photographer took this shot during a complete blackout. Awesome job Jammie! Check out her other work on Facebook.
Where I got the idea for his armor. Mine will look completely different from this in the finished drawing, but I did get inspiration from this... and knights templar armor.
This picture is by Winona Nelson.
Sword design. Again, mine will be somewhat different, but I took inspiration from this design. It was surprisingly difficult to find a good sword reference image on google.
Design from a tutorial by DragoArt.
Idea for the wings. I used these for the basic outline.
Conceptual Armor Sketch
|I did this to get an idea of how the separate elements would be put together and how I would design the armor. It's very rough and I didn't try to get things completely accurate at this stage.||At this stage, I started a new drawing, this time trying to get the details as accurate as I could. The sketch is actually much lighter than this, I brought up the levels in Photoshop to make the lines more visible.|
First Stage Drawing
Second Stage Drawing
Tragedy strikes! I had to start an entirely new outline because the other one got folded in half by accident! Oops!
I've got the facial structure drawn in for the most part, and have started the upper body section of the armor. I always start a drawing with the eyes and then the mouth, because if those are incorrect the entire person looks wrong. Then (usually) I finish the rest of their face and do their clothing and background from left to right. I'm right-handed so that prevents smearing. But in this case, I wanted to do the armor first to get it out of the way.
I've completed the body at this point. All that remains is the wings and swords, and final touch-ups.
The embeliishments on his legs will need some fixing in the next stage.
I also increased the hilights and contrast on the armor to make it look more shiny.
I fixed his armor on the boots, finished the wings and swords, and added a simple background. I also pulled up some more hilights and deepened some of the shadows.
Hopefully it will help the ministry!
What you CAN expect from your completed drawing:
- You can expect me to be up-front and honest about what I can do with your request. If I think you would be better to go with another artist, I will recommend one to you.
- I will let you know the cost and estimated time to completion before I begin.
- The truer to the subjects (and the higher quality) your reference photos are, the more accurate you can expect your finished portrait to be.
- You can expect me to update you frequently as the drawing progresses. I will send you photos of your artwork and ask for your input. The more information you provide, the better your portrait will be. Don't worry about bothering me, I need any information you can give me to make your portrait well.
- You can expect to receive an accurate representation of your friends or loved ones with nice smooth lines and great depth of shading.
- You can expect to see my initials on the front (EMB) and a full signature and date on the back.
- You can expect it to be sealed with fixative and ready to frame.
- You can expect it to be shipped to you in protective gear to keep your artwork safe during the shipping process.
- And you can expect me to be available at anytime if you have any questions, feedback, or input at all!
What NOT to expect - I am human, after all:
One of the most frequent misconceptions I have encountered is due to poor reference photo selection. I typically have never met the people I'm drawing and so I have nothing to draw from other than the reference photo(s). For this reason, it is important to find photos that are not only technically good quality, but true to the subject. For example: if the subject has lost 50 pounds, aged several years, or changed their hair color, they're going to look different now than in a photo taken prior to changing their appearance. Please consider this when you select your reference photos.
This leads to another common misconception: I cannot completely change someone's face. I can tweak small things - smooth a few wrinkles (but not completely remove them), conveniently forget to add freckles, remove a minor scar, etc. However, I cannot make large changes to a face and make it look like the subject. It's just not possible. I cannot make a person 50 pounds lighter or 20 years younger.
Unless you specify that you would like minor changes made to the subject's face or body, I will NOT change anything at all. I will draw them exactly as they are, as closely as I can. So if you want that beauty mark removed or a minor (painless) facelift, let me know A.S.A.P.!
Another typical misunderstanding is the level of photorealism expected. Your portrait will not look EXACTLY like your photo for three reasons:
- Most reference photos I receive will be color photos but I draw with graphite. Even the exact same photo looks different in black and white so obviously the portrait is going to look different.
- I am not capable of exact photorealism. I can get very close, but precisely reproducing a photo to the tiniest detail is quite beyond my skills. It's beyond the skill of any artist for that matter, though some can get closer than others. I strive to portray the person as accurately as I possibly can, however, and generally do achieve strikingly realistic and accurate results.
- Personally I do not see the point in exactly reproducing a photo as a portrait. If you wanted your photograph enlarged it would be cheaper and less time consuming to have it blown up. If you're paying good money for a portrait, you want an original work of art and that is what you will receive.