Thursday, September 24, 2009

More on the Mom Portrait

I've been working on Mom's portrait this last week, though it's been slow going. I had been working mostly on the face layering in more color and also filling in more color in the rest of the hair. But at some point I started to become dissatisfied with the likeness. Even though the drawing looked like my Mom, it didn't seem to me that it captured the look of freshness and youth so evident in the photo.

I thought that maybe something was off with the eyes and so I started working very closely on them, making small adjustments, tweaking a line here, extending a shadow there, trying to match exactly what I saw in the reference image. It turns out I had to change more that just the eyes. The next series of progress pictures shows the process I followed to get the portrait back on the right track.

Picking up from my last post, I added color to all the rest of her hair. I also filled in part of the collar with a dark color to get a better feel for the way her face will be framed.

This step is where I really concentrated on getting more layers of color on her face, especially on the lower portion. There had been too much of the background peeking through in the right side jaw area. It was easy to forget to cover this area more because the dark background color already had it looking as shadowed as it was supposed to look. Still I wanted to have more control of the shadowing and a smoother look to the skin, so I covered it up completely with my own midtones.

I also felt that I had left too much background showing through the eyebrows. With very sharp pencils I carefully filled in all the nooks and crannies of the surface with a light skin tone, so much so that the previously drawn eyebrows were almost lost. Not a problems since later I just drew them back in over a much more evenly skin toned background.

On the hair I brushed the color again, distributing and diffusing the highlights and shadows once more.

Here I added some highlights and midtones back in after having obscured them somewhat with the previous layers of color. Every so often I would pick up my brush to lightly blend the colors on the face. This is especially helpful in dialing the colors back when they get too stark or intense. At this step you can tell that the highlights are looking a little harsh and need to be smoothed over a bit.

Between the last step and this one is where I did a lot tweaking on the face. The changes are subtle but I think they make all the difference between an acceptable portrait and one that really jumps out at you as the person you want to portray.

I made the most changes to the left side eye, bringing the inner corner further in and straightening out the line of the lid a bit over it. I made the iris a bit larger and brought the eyebrow down a tad.

On the right eye I widened the iris a bit too and straightened out the downward tilt of the inner corner. I also lowered this eyebrow just a little.

Moving down, I slimmed down the width of the nose and refined the lines of the tip to reduce it just slightly. I widened the mouth on both sides and lifted the line of the top lip slightly. I also realized that the bottom lip needed filling out on the left side.

I think the most important change of all was that I redefined the cheek and chin line on the left side of her face. Right above the apple of the cheek I brought the line in a bit while underneath it I curved the cheek out more to give the face a more rounded youthful look.

The last change finally made the face look right to me and I went back to work on the hair.

There is still work to be done on both the face and hair, but its mostly finishing and polishing, maybe adding a bit more color. But now finally I'll be able to go to work on the clothes and background. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on. [famous last words :-)]

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