PORTRAIT DRAWING – WOMAN SMILING – How to Capture a Smile? DEMONSTRATION / COMMENTARY


Thank you for watching this portrait demonstration… Let’s talk about the process I use. I start with very basic lines. I try to get the right size and block-in the overall proportions. I use trial and error: I make a guess with a small line and see if it works. I use my eraser as much as my pencil at this point… I try to keep the block-in very geometric, I only use straight lines and avoid curves for the beginning. I try to define the most essential shadow shapes… I always take the time to check the proportions. Now I move on to the smaller shapes. I refine the block-in and correct the shapes. I focus on the angle and movement of the face, I don’t draw the details of the mouth, nose and eyes… not yet ! I suggest the curls in the hair with a couple of quick lines… The hands are important to capture the gesture… it will make the smile feel more genuine. Now I start to separate the light from the shadows to see what is or isn’t at the right place. I keep this tone very light because things can still move a lot at this point… …and if it’s too dark, it will be too hard to erase. Now that I see the shadows better, I refine the shapes even more. I make all the necessary corrections. I try to improve the quality of the edges. Still no details… Correcting the shape of the nose and the left eye… Correcting the shape of the mouth I don’t need to detail the teeth, not necessary… … the smile is on the entire face and hands, not just the mouth. The volume of the cheeks, the shape of the eyes and the overall body language are all part of the smile. I reinforce the bedbug line to refine the edges. Now I prepare my white pencil for the highlights. I suggest the highlights by pressing lightly on all the lightest areas of the portrait. Now that most of the proportions are set, I gradually make things darker. Because graphite isn’t very dark, I take the darkening step by step. I work on the half-tones at the same time. i try to find a balance between highlights and black. Making the hair darker, little by little. It takes patience… Graphite is not ideal for big, dark subjects. Now trying to put some volume in the hair with an eraser and a hard pencil. I sometimes use a brush to get rid of the annoying texture… Graphite often stacks and creates little bumps. Refining the half-tones. Still no details in the teeth, it doesn’t look good when they are separated with dark lines. Now I darken the hair a little bit more and remove the unpleasant texture with a brush, eraser and pencil. The contour of the hair is an important texture to get the desired realism. I never just “blend” with a brush and leave it like this, I always combine brush + pencil… …It avoids to have an unpleasant blurry texture. Close-up on the texture of the hair. I don’t try to draw individual hairs. I don’t want to make it look like a mop. Now I make the hair darker again. Using the darkest parts to create volume and movement. Now I work on the final details around the face. Last minute change, I decide to modify the hand to make it feel more relaxed. Final touch ! May you be blessed with joy and happiness…

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