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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Student Drawing Critique - Pet Portrait Workshop - Wendy's Cat

This is a cat portrait drawn by one of the artists from my Realistic Pet Portrait.  As we cover so much in a short time, we do not get a chance to fully finish our pieces, we did a cat & a dog in two days. Perhaps a little ambitious....but we were all very close to completing at the end of two days :)
Wendy had already taken one of my classes to learn the techniques so she brought her own photo of her cat for this workshop to work from.  I believe the drawing is a little washed out so the light are reading much too light and the dark values not nearly dark enough.

So, I took the photo of the drawing and adjusted the values in Photoshop.  This gives a much clearer idea of how much darker the drawing can go and I think shows how important using a full range of tonal values is.  The small round highlights in the eyes need to be brightened more to give that full range of values as if they are the white of the paper or as close as you can get, the eyes will immediately pop.  The eyes in a portrait are usually the center of interest and having the pupils the darkest value and the highlight the lightest value makes the view immediately drawn to them as our eyes always go to the strongest area of contrast in a painting or drawing.    
Drawing Darkened
As you can see, Wendy has done an excellent job on this portrait so really it is just fine tuning that is needed to really give her cat the depth that she is after and capturing an even stronger likeness.While this cat's pupils are very rounded, they still need to form a slight point at the bottom.  The right eye especially could be shaped more to be less rounded, the left eye is quite close and just a bit of shaping will achieve this. The outer edges of the cat's eye (where the lip of the eye and the fur meet) could also be slighly more tapered inwards at the top corners (just under the lids - see the little circles on photo).  
The shape of his nose & mouth seem to have gotten lost a little bit as well.  I highlighted the areas around his mouth (very roughly as I never seem to get the motion right in photoshop) to show how the shape curves out just a bit more giving a more rounded feel which creates depth and the shape of his fur.  Darkening the underside of the fur, just where the top lip meets the bottom (I am now painfully aware that I know nothing about the correct anatomy terms for cats!) will give a more rounded feel as well and add that feeling of shape.  Again, these are little changes that really push the drawing to the next level I think.  
His nose on his right side (viewer's left) needs to be refined further. There is a darker line of fur at the top edge of the nose and the bottom, curving up to the nostril which once darkened will separate the nose from the fur more giving a feeling that it is closer to the viewer slightly more than the fur.  Again creating just a little bit more depth.  Another way to create instant depth is to darken the body, especially to the left of his ear and his shoulder, leaving the lighter areas in tact.  This again will instantly push his head forward a bit and create a feeling of shape in his body.  Finally softening the lines on his paw will lessen the focus on his paw as they are a little bit too linear right now.
I hope that helps and does not sound to picky as again this is an excellent drawing and she has really captured her cat so well :) Awesome work Wendy, keep it up!

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