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Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits

Jsirkis

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Hi,

I am attaching 4 drawings. the first was done just before I started taking online lessons. Pictures 2-4 were done a week or two apart after beginning lessons. I am just now trying to learn to draw the mouth. I have not yet learned how to draw ears. Though I am making progress, my portraits still look cartoonish or grotesque (picture 3 is supposed to be Julia Roberts) and picture 4 is a self portrait. (I include a reference photo in a reply.) I am drawing from photos using the grid system - which I find helpful, but I would like to outgrow it. My greatest concern is that I am reaching a plateau and not getting progressively better. Please tell me how to get better. Please critique freely - it won't hurt my feelings - and offer suggestions on how I can improve. I want to stick with portraits and I hope to one day be able to render some portraits using paint rather than pencil. I figure I have to learn how to draw first.
Thank you in advance for your suggestions.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 02:18:49 AM by Jsirkis »

Jsirkis

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2014, 02:14:34 AM »
By the way, I do know that Julia Roberts does not have a goatee. I'm just not very good making dark shadows look like dark shadows and not facial features.

Jsirkis

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Here is a reference photo
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2014, 02:19:51 AM »
This was the reference photo for portrait 4.

katya

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 04:44:35 AM »
I tried to draw from the same photo so I understand what to give you as advice. Number one I think you are doing huge steps on your progress. you picked a difficult photo, but it does show all the forms. I did the quick sketch just to try to capture the forms of the face. and go for softer edges in  the beginning .

Jsirkis

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2014, 10:50:58 AM »
Wow, I really do see it now. Your wonderful drawing is very helpful! Yes, I need to learn to soften the edges. I can see that I define boundaries too rigidly and I need to use shading more so than lines to define features. I'm not sure exactly how to do this, but I am going to figure it out. I am trying to draw a portrait a week. Right now they take me around 1.5 to 2 hours to do. I am working on one of my husband and will try to soften the edges. I'm not sure if Matt has a tutorial on this or not, but I will find some instruction and work on it. Thank you for your most helpful advice.

katya

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 11:44:00 AM »
It is easier than you think, but one needs to see it. It is mental vision. When you draw lips, you think of the image of the lips, you have a concept in your head. That concept makes you outline the lips with a unified line in your drawing. Same thing goes for the rest of the face. I have adjusted your reference photo to demonstrate the point. Take a look how different in values one side of the mouth in compare with the other. When you draw try to see how light eats the form, dissolves the edge on one side. Before start drawing mentally figure out where is the lightest light and darkest shadow. and while you are drawing all the face features, think how light changes that form. You have a really great eye for placing proportions of the face, that is most important. Now it is just to understand what light does to objects, forms, features of the face.

Holt

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 05:25:39 PM »
I tried to draw from the same photo so I understand what to give you as advice. Number one I think you are doing huge steps on your progress. you picked a difficult photo, but it does show all the forms. I did the quick sketch just to try to capture the forms of the face. and go for softer edges in  the beginning .
What a wonderful visual critique katya. you have been so helpful.  I hope you will be doing more critique in the future

Jsirkis

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2014, 02:16:13 AM »
Thank you so much for your helpful advise. I did some looking into how to soften edges and applied what I learned to this rendering. I am making progress and I have you to thank!

katya

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2014, 02:56:14 AM »
Yes! you got the idea! Now you want to find where edge can be hard and where it can be soft, that will make your drawing to become even more alive, it will breath. I also have something to say about the eyes, but let me draw an illustration first. you are very talented in my opinion. Thank yourself.

katya

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2014, 03:48:52 AM »
Sometimes try to make a portrait with a minimum "work", try to grab the most important. i am giving one example of my own quick sketch. take a notice on the eye on the left. there is almost no work to it, but the darkest dot ( not the full line over the eye) is placed in the middle over pupil. I am also showing the eye from an old master drawings. Once again, look how  the line of the eye lid is not unified, darker, harder edge is in the middle over the eye pupil.

katya

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2014, 12:23:03 PM »
Here are two portraits of my son in oil, but grey scale is a good reference for drawing. the time in between them 2 months of intense study, drawing, painting. in the first one besides wrong placement of forms there is a lot of contrasting things. even eyes which are in a shadow are lightened up. that does not look natural and organic. look at over all changes I have done to my own painting and see if any of them help you to look at you old drawing and realize how you can change things in your next one.

dj1304

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2014, 12:06:29 AM »
I found that only putting down very cursory marks for the lips at the entrance to the mouth (light marks for the lower part of the upper lip and upper part of the lower lip) and then using a blending stump to build up the rest of the lips.   i would then usually go back and use a kneaded erasure to lighten areas of the lower lip.  you can always go back and darken areas that need it.    keep at it.  the only way to get better is to draw and keep drawing.  find the little tricks that great artists use and keep practicing.   

Royz

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Re: Critique for someone new to drawing trying to learn to draw portraits
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2014, 10:01:34 PM »
Katya, I applaud you!
You're an big asset to this forum, I like your teaching method very much!

Roy