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Monday, June 30, 2008

Birthday Portrait Commission

Well I spent last night and today peeking at this off and on and there are a few more tweaks that need to be made as the daughter is not quite there yet. I think the jaw line on her right side needs tweaking and the shading on her cheeks needs to be lightened in areas to give her a softer rounder face. Her nose has become too long and too dark on the end and I think it needs to be rounded just a touch above the nostrils. Last but not least her left eye needs to be adjusted a bit...then we have a look and another and another ;)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Birthday Portrait Commission

A few more tweaks have been made and I think I have got it :) This is the completed portrait in full size which is 18 x 24.
The transitions of the light and dark graphite are not as smooth as in the actual portrait but it is pretty close. I will leave it for a bit to see if anything needs minor tweaking but I think it is done!

Birthday Portrait Commission

This is the portrait with both kids. I will need to leave it for a bit to see if there are further tweaks needed. It looks a little distorted on screen so I think I will set up the tripod and take a better photo as well.

Birthday Portrait Commission - Son Update 2

This is another update on the son's portrait. I will take a break from him and let things 'settle' and will work on the daughter again for a bit. His left eyebrow still needs a bit of tweaking and his pout is not quite there yet. Aha his left eye is also a little too open, just noticed that. The computer is a great 'fact' checker as soon as you upload the image on the screen things start jumping out that no amount of staring and comparing on paper seems to catch :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Birthday Portrait Commission - Son Update 1

This is an update on the son's portrait which is to the right of his sister. His eyebrows and hair need to be darkened as well but need to let the graphite settle in more.
Again several tweaks are needed but much of the tonal values have been built up gradually. I should not of complained about the lack of sun here as I have been melting in my studio all day...but at least I have great lighting :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Birthday Portrait Commission - Daughter Update 2

Well I think she is nearly complete but I will leave her until I am nearly finished her brother's portrait and then do a few more tweaks. I think her lips need to be a tad fuller in spots and her nose definitely needs to be narrowed a touch along the upper bridge but I want to wait for daylight and, per chance sun?!?!?, to see for sure.

Birthday Portrait Commission - Daughter Update 1

This is an update of the portrait of the daughter which

is starting to take shape. The lighter layers have been added and now they will be built up to create the darks and to further refine her features. Several areas need to be tweaked but she is starting to look 'alive' :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birthday Portrait Commission of Kids Sketch

This is the outline graphite sketch for the birthday portrait. The color balance has been adjusted in photoshop so that the lines are more visible online as they are fairly light on the actual paper. Now the fun begins!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Birthday Portrait

This is the reference photo of the commission that I started today for a birthday gift for my client's kids. They are a few years apart but both of their birthdays are in August.
I think this is going to be an awesome portrait! The images were taking from different photos but I think they go together very well to show their different personalities. This portrait will be done in graphite and will be 18x24" in size.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watercolor Figure Portrait - Untitled

This is another watercolor figure portrait done with a monochromatic palette of sepia for an upcoming exhibit at Place des Arts.

It is part of a series of paintings that will be on exhibit in March 2009, 7 paintings down, 31 more to complete, haha, good thing I work best under pressure!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Murphy Touched Up

Just a quick post as I touched up Murphy's portrait just a little. I pulled out a few more highlights and extended the grass as it was looking a little odd to me.
The paper flattened out nicely but took 2 days so it is off to the post office for Murphy today to go all the way to Scotland!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Murphy Completed

I think Murphy's portrait is complete! I will leave her for a bit and come back for another look just to be sure. The paper has buckled a little in a few spots so once I am sure she is done I will 'flatten' out the paper again so that it is totally smooth.
Once the paper is bone dry, I will pull out some grass blades around her feet just to settle her a bit more. I may taper the corners of the grass a bit as they look a little rounded at the edges but I will stare at it for a few hours and then decide :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander 4

The darks have been re-established and now for the fun part of lifting out the highlights. Her feet need more darks added in a few places as does her hind leg and a couple other areas that I wanted to leave until the very end to ensure they are crisper looking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander 3

This photo seems to have come out a bit darker than it really is. The overall fur midtones have been established so now I just need to re-establish the darks, add a bit more dimension to the lights, darken her eyes and give her some grass to stand on.
Last but not least, I will pull out some highlights and Murphy will be ready for her close up :)

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander 2

Watercolor Portrait of Dog
Murphy's portrait is really starting to take shape now as most of the darks have been added. The eyes look a little funny still as the 'color' has not been added to her iris's which should set them in nicely. Her right cheek needs a bit more shading as does the tip of her nose.

Once I have a few more glazes of watercolor painted on I will do the finishing touches to the darks and add more texture to the fur on the face & ears.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander 1

I have started adding some of the darks and have added several layers of fur already to create a fuller effect once completed.
I have only added one overall wash of watercolor at this point just to take away the starkness of the paper and will add several washes as the painting progresses to soften the edges and blend areas together more smoothly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander Underpainting

Watercolor Portrait of Dog MunstlanderThis is a photo of the under painting of Murphy a, ahem, female Munsterlander dog, sorry Murphy. Her face looks a little comical right now but once the layers are built up she will look more natural.

She is fun to paint though as her hair is just so wispy and her patterns on her legs are going to really add punch to the portrait I think!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander Sketch

Dog Portrait Commission Munstlander Sketch
This is the outline sketch of Murphy, a beautiful Munsterlander dog that I will be painting as a monochromatic watercolor. I have done the sketch small and will enlarge it then transfer it to the watercolor paper.
I usually start out with a large sketch but I wanted to keep it small to ensure that I caught all the details as the photo is blurry. I think I have captured his personality already though even with the limited detail.
The eyes I had to 'feel out' as in the photo they are in total shadow but he seems like a loyal intelligent dog so I hope that I have caputured that in his face and eyes.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Family Portrait Commission Completed

This is the completed portrait in full size which is 18 x 24. The transitions, again, are not as smooth as in the actual portrait so I may take another photo later in the day when the gloomy weather clears. I will leave it for a bit to see if anything needs minor tweaking but I quite happy with it. I think it is going to look amazing framed!

I did a few more tweaks and reuploaded the new photo. Just waiting for the frame to arrive so I will photograph it framed as well and upload.

Dog Portrait Commission Munsterlander

This is a reference photos of a portrait that I will be starting on Monday of a Munsterlander dog named Murphy. The reference photo is very small but it is a surprise gift and it is the best one available and the pose and expression on Murphy's face are so sweet.
I will be working from several reference photos to get more details but the general pose and tonal values from this photo will be used to ensure that Murphy's character is captured.
The portrait will be 18 x 24 in monochromatic watercolor which will give a very nostalgic feel that I think is very fitting for a hunting dog.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Father's Day Commission - Father & Daughter

The profile portrait of the father is nearly completed. The hair needs more texture added both darks & lights which I have just started adding. The shadows needs to be darkened just a little and the rest of the skin blended out in some areas, especially the ear once the graphite has settled a bit.
I just love the expression on the dad's face in this once, it is worth a thousand words. I think anyone that has just become a parent can relate, it is such an amazing thing to hold your new baby and wonder who is this person!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Father's Day Commission - Daughter

The daughter is nearly completed now so I will move onto the profile of the father and come back to her again near the end. The forehead needs to be blended a bit further and the hair darkened in areas but I want to give it a chance to settle in more so as not to damage the paper. Her eyebrow now appears a tad to narrow in spots so I will touch that up as well before the next update.
It is starting to look very cool with all of the family together, the balance of lights and dark are coming out really nice in the overall piece.

Difference in Photo Setup


I tried photographing the portrait using my new SLR camera..I am very photo challenged which makes it even sadder now that I have such a nice camera! The darker image was taken using a 50mm lens and the lighter one was taken using a 17-85mm lens both using the AV setting and manual focus.

I have not set the white balance which may be some of the problem but have not figured out my camera that far yet. The color on the

50mm is more accurate for the darks, but the transition is more accurate from the 17-85mm lens.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Father's Day Commission - Father update

More darks have been added to the father's face and areas have been touched up and softened. The hairline will be softened more by adding wisps but that will be left until the end to keep them crisp.

I am not sure if it is due to taking the photos under indoor lighting but the transitions are really not showing up well for either the father or the son. I will take a photo tomorrow, hopefully in light as it has been raining and gloomy here and there is no end in sight!

The father's lips are still too dark I think but will wait until morning to fix. I did a few minor adjustments to the son but more are needed. His face looks dirty online but on the original the transitions are again much smoother. Will see how things shape up in the morning!

Father's Day Commission - Father update

This is an update of the father's portrait. The transitions between the dark and lights look much harsher online than on the original but still a fair bit of work is needed to darken/lighten areas. His hair is looking a little pointy and too round on the side but the darkness is getting there.

The mouths looks a little odd with the outline of lighter skin around the lips but I want to leave it to nearer the end to fill in so that I do not loose the contrast of the lips. The moustache has just been placed in for now and will be shaped shortly as will the teeth.

This is the first portrait I have done with the darker skin tones and due to the size it has been a bit of a challenge to get the darkness tonally without getting a shiny surface as so often happens with graphite. I am happy to say that I have learned a few tricks on this portrait!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Father's Day Commission - Father & Son Portrait

This is the 'first pass' of the father but alot of the hard work has been done.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Father's Day Commission - Son Update

The son is looking better now but still needs minor tweaking which I will leave until closer to the end. This photo was taken at night so the transitions from dark to light look more harsh than they really are so I will take another photo with more natural light to better judge the shading.

Evaluating your drawings

While working on a portrait it is crucial to take a step back every now and then and take a really close look ... from a distance. While working on a recent commission, I needed to After looking at get some distance to do a few more tweaks to it before moving on. There were too many little areas that needed tweaking and it would be too distracting if they are not addressed first as they are throwing off the resemblance.

I use several tricks to 'get distance' from my portraits as I work on them, the most helpful and easiest is to just take a photo and upload it onto the computer. It is like viewing the portrait through different eyes as the computer flattens the image even more so any areas that are off immediately pop out.

Another trick is to look at the portrait in the mirror which I think gives a pretty similar effect, but is a little difficult to do with a larger drawing. One I have been trying recently is using Photoshop to superimpose images.

  1. Open the original reference photo and the drawing at the same time
  2. Size the image size for both ref and drawing using Image - Image Size
  3. Unlock background layer of drawing by double clicking on lock in the layer panel
  4. Drag the drawing over top of the reference photo
  5. Set the opacity to around 45% on the drawing using the drop down for Opacity in the layers panel on the right hand side
  6. Match up drawing and reference photo

You may have to resize the image a few times to get it just right but it is a great way to check the proportions quickly for the entire drawing.