Today I went for a pretty detailed portrait of someone I really admire. This is a famous person so there is some chance of people guessing it. I’ll leave it open in case anyone wants to try. It’s an author though so the chances of someone recognizing him are not great. He is a British fantasy author and one of my personal favourites.
This is the longest I’ve ever spent on one portrait. Most of that time was spent on the shading. I was pretty much just cursing him the whole time for wearing so much black. I was also cursing the photo for having a flash on it which meant that the shadows were pretty hard to pic out. I decided to give it a shot though anyway because I really liked the photo.
Again, I did all of the line work first. Then I tinkered with it until I was pretty sure I had it just right before I even started on the shading. I think the two step process really helps me. It allows me to really focus on the shapes and lines and making sure that I can get the drawing accurate without getting distracted by shading or using my shading to compensate for bad line art. It also helps with the shading because once I finally get to the shading I can really just focus on that without having to spend a lot of time adjusting and correcting my lines.
Here’s my line work so you can sort of see what I mean:I took a photo of the line drawing before I moved on to the shading just in case I completely screwed up my shading and ruined the picture. I also find it really fun to flip back and forth between the two and see what changed and what didn’t. So far I haven’t really wrecked any drawing with my shading, only improved them. I’m still pretty paranoid about it though so I like to make sure I’ve got my bases covered.
I actually ended up doing two drafts of this portrait. The first one was in my regular sketchbook which is quite small (A5 so that I can carry it around with me). I’ve done all of my other portraits so far in that sketchbook so I just started in that one on autopilot. It turned out to be a bad idea for this one. The reference photo was in landscape and I tried to translate it into portrait for my sketchbook which was just a bad idea to start with. Also since he’s wearing a big hat and I wanted to get his hand in the shot too his head ended up having to be really small in my little sketchbook. I find it harder to draw detailed faces the smaller they are so I was having a lot of trouble with it. In the end I decided to just give up on that one and do a landscape sketch in my exercise sketchbook (which is a larger A4 sketchbook). It worked out much better that way.
The first draft was really rough and quite bad but I will post a picture of it here anyway just so that you can see my process (in case you’re interested):You can see some of the rough elements are there but I was having a lot of trouble with it. By the time I actually got everything blocked in I realized that it just wasn’t going to work. All of the other portraits I’ve done in that sketchbook worked fine because they were simple portrait shots of just the head and shoulders. Now I know that If I want to go detailed on a shot with more than just head and shoulders or a landscape shot then I’ll need to use the bigger sketchbook.
There you go. That’s everything I drew today. Let me know what you think and especially if any of you are able to guess who my portrait is supposed to be.
Update: It seems that he is recognizable enough that a couple of you managed to guess it :). I’m glad I was able to capture him. I was trying pretty hard to get this one right.
It is, as some of you guessed, a portrait of Terry Pratchett, the amazing author of the Discworld series of novels along with several other great books. He sadly passed away on March 12th, the day before I drew this sketch. I drew this as a tribute to him and the great influence which he has had on my life and the lives of many others.
Terry Pratchett was a fantastic author although my initial impression of him was unfortunately not a positive one. He wrote the Discworld novels, a satirical fantasy series, which I had an irrational hatred of when I was a child because I blamed it for stealing my brother away from me. My brother got so involved in the wonderful world Terry Pratchett had created that suddenly he was spending all his time either reading or playing Discworld MUDs on the computer instead of playing with his silly little sister. I had no idea at the time what this “Discworld” actually was but I decided that I hated it.
Luckily that decision was not irreversible. My brother eventually paid attention to me for long enough to lend me one of his Discworld books. I believe it was Wyrd Sisters. I had a fascination with Macbeth at the time and was instantly hooked.
Terry Pratchett’s imagination, wit and his sense of humour have been an inspiration to me, my brother and a great many others. I was sad to hear of his passing but one of his biggest influences on me was in teaching me that death is to be respected but not feared. While I am sad for our loss, I am also glad that he did not have to suffer through the prolonged mental deterioration that would have lain ahead of him. Some things are worse than death. Though he may be gone he leaves behind him a beautiful legacy and a wonderfully imaginative world that people can continue to appreciate and enjoy for many years to come.
Thank you for the inspiration Terry, may you rest in peace now. You’ve certainly earned it.