It’s true – I said that I’d sworn off painting, and then I was like, “Well, now I’m excited to try painting again…” Then, of course, I didn’t proceed with doing anything, so ’round and ’round we go.
Well, guess what. I was perusing Instagram (yes, Instagram – you can follow me here) and all these people had beautiful portraits with such amazing contrasts that I could hardly believe it. How on earth did they do that?
Hahahaha. With my nemesis, of course – OIL PAINT. It’s a whole thing with using what is called drybrush technique with oil paint to paint these amazing portraits that look like they’re pencil drawn, except smoother and darker. Amazing.
After watching a gazillion videos on the technique and stocking up on the items that I would need, I decided to take a portrait that wasn’t going the way I wanted it to and use it as my guinea pig for this incredible painting technique.
Well, I learned that I wasn’t quite sure how to do blond hair with black oil paint, so the hair was done in pencil, and I think it shows; however, the portrait as a whole came out rather nicely, if I do say so myself! It looks like a technique that I will be continuing to explore in the future, and I hope to present many more portraits with this beautiful contrast.
A few days ago I did up a “quick sketch” of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister (because, in my opinion, celebrities are good subjects for quick sketches) and posted the sketch to social media (G+). One of the users of the site commented something akin to, “Quick sketch my ass – this took at least two hours.” Okay, so maybe his comment wasn’t so brash, but that’s the gist of it.
But he’s right! The sketch did take an hour and a half…. So why would I call it a “quick sketch?”
Because it was one.
The average drawing, depending on the subject, can take me 8-12 hours, maybe more if there’s some killer detail. For me to do a drawing that is only 1-2 hours – that’s a really quick sketch! You may notice that the eyes aren’t quite right, that the hair isn’t fully rendered, her eyebrows aren’t quite Lena Headey’s eyebrows; it’s not meant for perfection, it’s meant for practice.
Ever look at a drawing and think to yourself, “Wow, how did he/she draw that white fur? It looks so soft!”
It’s all an optical illusion. I’ve posted before about how the eye fills in the blanks, and that’s all white fur it. There will be a few lines here and there, but for the most part, it’s blank (or negative) space.
Here are some tips:
1) Hair casts shadows. Shading in small areas of shadow make the white parts look more real and 3D.
2) Less is more! Don’t shade in too much, or you’ll ruin the effect.
3) Draw lightly and use an electric eraser to draw out white lines for whiskers, ear hair, etc.
In the drawing above, the cat’s whiskers are simply erased area that are outlined with graphite. The ear hair is the same. The forward paw only has shading to separate the toes.
Is tracing ever good? Is it effective? Should I trace?
Maybe, not really, and probably not.
Tracing an image doesn’t do a lot for you. Of course you’ll have the outline, which is always fun, but you won’t gain any experience in drawing, and tracing developes hard lines that are difficult to work with. If your aim is to get photographic perfection in your drawing, it will save you a ton of time to just take a photo of your subject.
Tracing is a good technique for silhouettes, but that’s all I can really do to give tracing any credit. Silhouettes are a comment type of art that can be applied to pencil, pastel, and painted works.
So. What if you just want to have a copy of the outline so that you can practice shading?
I say to draw the outline a couple times to practice accuracy and to learn to keep a steady hand, then you can decide what you want from there. You can trace if you’re using crappy paper; you can use carbon paper if you press very lightly as to prevent hard, non-erasable lines; you could just photocopy your line art and accept that there will be impossible lines to deal with.
Some people claim to learn a lot from tracing; I say that you’ll learn a lot more from actually drawing.