A Quick Look at the Process

Remind me not to try to write blog posts on my phone in the wee hours of the morning when my brain is already half asleep.  They are not very coherent.  Also, Remind me not to stay up all night trying to finish a painting at the last minute because I left it too late getting started.  It is not a good idea and results in much tiredness and a body that hates me.  I’m also not convinced that brains that are half asleep churn out the best work ever.

So yesterday I was too tired to write up a proper blog post like I had intended so I’m doing it today instead.  I’m not counting this for the day count because it’s not a daily sketch.  I just thought I’d post a little bit on the process for making yesterday’s painting.  I took photos at each stage because I was really paranoid about horribly screwing it up.  I’m not sure exactly how I thought the photos would help with that but for whatever reason taking them made me feel a bit better.  Since I’ve posted the process for a bunch of my random sketches it seemed a bit remiss not to post it for this painting that I’ve been going on and on about for a week now, especially since I actually have the pictures. 

The first step, as I already mentioned in a previous post, was just blocking in all of the basic shapes to make sure I knew where everything was going in relation to everything else.  I used a grid for this mostly because I didn’t trust myself to get it all right without some solid reference points.  It really helped me to keep everything in proportion.

Stage 1: The Block InI tried to clean this picture up a little bit but it’s still pretty hard to make out.  I was drawing really lightly because none of these were really intended to be the final lines.  This was all basically just a road map to make sure I knew where I was headed before I set out.

The next step was to build on this drawing by adding all of the details and refining the exact shapes and positions of everything.  This was by far the longest stage.  I actually thought it would go much faster given that I already had a basic plan laid out.  It did save some time on the larger areas like the torsos and the chair and it really helped by giving me parameters to work within for where I was putting all of the details.  It still took me much longer than I had hoped to reach my final line drawing though.

Stage 2: The Line DrawingI didn’t actually use the initial grid lines much for this.  That was partially because the were based on a very low res print out.  I had spilled water all over my computer before doing the block in drawing so I couldn’t look at the picture on the computer and had to rely on initial reference pictures I’d printed before doing my studies.  For the line drawing I had my computer back up and running and I was looking at the image zoomed in on my computer screen for all of the detail work.  I couldn’t make a new set of grid lines match the old ones exactly so I just referred to the printout for larger forms very occasionally.

The most challenging parts were definitely the faces and hands.  I did about four or five passes just on one of the faces because I just couldn’t get it right.  The hands I don’t think I got right at all.  They still look a bit demented but I was running out of time and energy so I pretty much just gave up on them.  I really wanted to get everything worked out in the line drawing so that I knew I was on track before I started adding colour into the mix.  I didn’t want another mishap like the face in my previous watercolour pencil drawing.  I actually had quite a few other detail lines in a bit lighter but they got erased with the grid lines.  Trying to erase the grid lines without erasing my line drawing was another major challenge.  Next time I should probably make my line drawing darker so that it doesn’t erase as easily.  I just wanted to go for a really soft look for this one so I kept my lines very soft and light.

One I finally had my line drawing done and was at least mostly happy with it, it was time to add some colour at last.  The mistake I made last time I tried the watercolour pencils was to do an initial pass and then try to fix things after the fact.  It seems to be much harder to keep colours where you want them after you’ve brushed it over with water.  That’s why the face on my last portrait ended up in such a mess.  I didn’t like how it looked and tried to add extra detail after the fact.  That works fine with actual watercolour paints but doesn’t seem to work as well with the pencils.  It might work better if it was fully dry again first but I wasn’t about to test it (and was pressed for time anyway) so I made sure that I had all of the colouring and shading done before I got any water anywhere near it.

Stage 3: ColoursThis was the result.  I started at the left of the page and worked my way right.  It was already getting really late at this point so I think I started running out of energy as I was going.  I feel like I did a pretty good job on the first figure but the other two (or three if you count the baby) ended up being pretty bare bones.  I think the painting would have turned out quite a bit better if I had done a little more shading at this stage before moving on.

The final step here is pretty obvious.  Just add water!  I brushed over everything with water, trying to stay inside the lines so that things wouldn’t blend too much if I didn’t want them to.

Stage 4: Just Add WaterAnd this was the final result.  All in all it’s not too bad but not quite as nice as I was hoping either.  I was going for a soft look but I think it actually turned out even softer and more pastel-y than I had intended.  I think it probably could have used a bit more colour and shading like I mentioned.  I was just getting really tired and also a bit afraid of overdoing it and ending up wrecking it.

So anyway, that’s the whole process.  I hope I didn’t bore you.  I’m not too sure how interested anyone actually is in the process.  I mostly just post it because I like going over it myself.  I think it can be nice to look over it as a whole after the fact and see all of the different stages you went through and what things changed and what didn’t.  I think it’s helpful for deciding what to maybe do different next time and what things to keep the same.


7 thoughts on “A Quick Look at the Process

    1. Thank you! I was trying really hard to get the emotional connections across. The biggest challenge was getting the expressions to look right while also making sure there was a good resemblance to the subjects.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think it helps me to go over it. I have a tendency to just focus on the negatives when I finish something. It’s nice to be able to look back and see how it evolved and appreciate some of the things I learned along the way. It tends to give me a better perspective on it.

      Liked by 1 person

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