- Lesson details
Steve Huston demonstrated his charcoal drawing technique on a female head. You will learn how his process applies to the forms of the head from the lay-in with a stump to the final finishing touches.
- Conté Crayon – Black
- Alphacolor Char-Kole Square
- Alphacolor Soft Pastel – White
- Blending Stumps
- Sandpaper or Emery Paper
- Electric Eraser
- Plastic Eraser
- Kneaded Eraser
- Cut Paper Scraps
- Paper Towel
- Large, Soft Paintbrush
- Strathmore Bristol Paper – Vellum
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technique on a female head. Steve will take you through each step of his process, starting
with a light lay-in using a stump loaded with charcoal powder.
After that, you’ll learn how to establish a clear core shadow in charcoal…
and then create the shadow side of your drawing by scrubbing in a gradient away from that core.
Next, you will develop the major forms using half-tone, core shadows, and a darker contour
line in Conté crayon to contain the volumes. You will learn how to resolve all major forms
of the head as well as scrubbing the environment using dark tones.
full-value style. I’m going to show you the materials right now. As we look here we
have a bunch of stuff going on. We have alpha color, which are cheap pastels. They’re
inexpensive. They come in packs, usually of several. They can be multicolored or you can
get all black. We’re going to use black today, obviously. Here’s a couple of them.
They look like this in size when you buy them, and then you work them down.
I usually break them in half and end up using this.
We’re going to use Conté sticks, Conté a Paris. They come as a shape like this, again
in a pack of two or more. They come in a few different colors. We’re using black.
You can use—there’s B up to 2B; 2B is a softer, puts down a blacker line. Then B and it even
goes back to HB and I think maybe H. They’re a harder line. So we’re going to use a 2B.
Then what I do is take an Exacto knife and whittle them down into a blunt point like
that so I can make a nice soft or crisp line. I’ll show you that a little bit later.
We use stumps. A stump is a rolled paper affair that’s basically a paper pencil. You can
use that to blend in and smear the charcoal as you put it down.
You can also use it to dab into powdered charcoal to draw with.
That brings us to this. That’s a little sheet of emery cloth, just a fine sandpaper.
You can use 100 grit, 360 grit, whatever it is, up to emery paper.
Any of those are fine.
We’ll use that also as an erasing tool. I’ll get a clean sheet of the sandpaper
and use it to erase back for areas that have been stained heavily with charcoal.
You'll see as I work it’s a very aggressive style where I really scrub in the tones.
So if you need to remove those for highlights, you have to work equally hard
to get it back towards the white.
And then the erasing—we’re doing additive. We add pigment to the paper to make our drawing,
and then we use a subtractive method. We take pigment away back to the white surface to
get that lighter effect. So I’m going to use primarily a kneaded eraser. They come
in little square blocks, basically, and they’re like putty.
As you use them they get very, very dirty.
One of the lovely things about them is you can stretch them and bend them
and they clean right up. I’ll show you how to use that. Then you can shape them to get
into little tight areas like that. Then a harder eraser of any type, really.
The pink erasers actually are harder and scrub more pigment away than these white ones,
but sometimes you’ll get a cheap—especially if they’ve sat around for a year or two, they get older.
That pink can actually stain the paper. So if you end up with a pink one come over on
the edge outside the frame you’re going to work and see if it’s staining pink at all.
Then we can use a brush to just dust away.
As we erase you’ll get the eraser marks. You can dust those away. You want to be careful,
of course, if you’re dusting over an area with a lot of dark pigment it can drag that
dark pigment into your light rendered areas and give you trouble. The last thing we’re
going to use is a paper towel. We’ll fold that up. Let me grab another one here.
We'll fold it up. I’m going to use that like a chamois. So I’m going to blend using the
stump, my fingertip. You’re going to see my fingers get really black with charcoal
and the paper towel. I’ll oftentimes do it like that and just scrub it away. It’s
just a pad for my finger. You’re working so hard you can actually get blisters
on your fingers scrubbing away at stuff.
So anyway, those are the tools. It’s fairly simple. Let me move these away, and I’ll
show you the paper. The style itself doesn’t take a lot to get going.
Just a few little bits of materials and you’re all set.
Alright, the paper, you can use a couple different papers. The Strathmore paper, you can see
here where it has gotten a little stained from laying stuff down on the paper here.
Strathmore paper you use 400 grade or 500, Strathmore 500, Strathmore 400. It’s Bristol and you
use a vellum surface. That’s moderately textured. There is plate finish which is hot press.
It’s slick as glass. You don’t want to use that because that paper has been
pressed so hard under the heat it’s sealed off. It doesn’t accept the pigments.
It's good for ink and marker, things like that, or for very light pencil.
We’re going to work in a deep value range like a Rembrandt or a Caravaggio.
We need a good quality paper that will hold the pigment.
The plate finish will resist that pigment. It won’t bond into it.
So you need something where it will imbed down in. If you use plate it won’t work.
Kid finish is a much rougher texture, well, much rougher than plate. It’s a rougher
texture, and it’s a little harder to cover that texture. That texture can get in the
way of the gradations. It works. I use it from time to time. The vellum finish is in
between the two. It’ll take all the value. It’s not so textured, so you’re not going
to get that problem of resisting the rendering.
That’s the way we’re going to go here, in these kinds of drawings.
One of the earlier classes I did the Strathmore. In this case, we’re going to use Lana paper,
and it happens to be the 120 lb paper. You can use a 90 lb; it doesn’t matter too much.
It almost looks like a watercolor paper or an etching paper. It’s got a spongy-soft
quality to it, but it’s touch as heck in terms of working it. You can really abuse it.
This style is abusive. You’re putting a lot of chalk, scrubbing in. You’re rubbing
it with paper towels and fingers. You’re scrubbing it in. You’re taking erasers to
it, scrubbing it off. It takes a lot of abuse, so if it’s a cheap paper you can’t do
it in newsprint. It won’t work. You need a good quality paper.
That’s what we’ve got today, the Lana paper.
Let’s get started with our little head adventure here.
I’m going to use this, and all I’m going to do is take some of my alpha chalk and just it scrub it.
I’m just getting some charcoal powder there, and
I’m going to use that. I can draw with my Conté,
but sometimes it’ll score and that line will stay,
and then you’ll fight it through the rendering. You have to move things around.
I’ll use this, and you get this light kind of pencil line type of thing. It
works better. It’s just touching the surface. It’s not scoring the surface. So we’ll
use that and do our little head here. I’ll scoot it over a little bit more.
I’m in a three-quarter view on this head. Her head is slightly above lifting up from me.
I’m going to exaggerate that. Whatever is going on in position and character, ideas,
overdo it a little bit. Because what’ll happen is then you’ll do the arching eyebrows
that go up and down and the hairline that goes up and down or zigzags back and forth.
You’ll add the sloping jaw line underneath, and it will slightly soften your perspective usually.
Usually when we add detail it softens that initial idea and sometimes disrupts it
and gets in the way of us feeling that original idea.
So overdo it. Push it a little bit farther.
You can use a little pencil to do this. That would be absolutely fine.
All the time when I do these kind of more finished, more rendered ideas of painting
demo, a careful drawing demo—and by the way, this technique is a great transition
into painting if you’re the type that’s a more natural draftsman and struggles with
paint and color and that kind of stuff, which was where I was at when I started. I was a
draftsman who learned how to draw. This is a great transition in because you’re working
in full value. You’re learning to create gradations. You’re training the eye to see
the reality of things. Until you really spend several hours rendering something, you don’t
really see it oftentimes. Let me move my reference just a little bit. So this allows you to really
spend some time and understand the form and the relationships of values and all that stuff
in a careful way. Then that takes you more naturally into paint.
When I start painting, when I’m teaching beginning painting I like to start in black and white anyways
so you can take color out of the mix. Color is not one more problem to solve.
It's a problem you can solve later when you’ve built up some confidence in what you’re doing.
If your values are right, the colors will follow a little more naturally.
So that’s good enough for now. We’ve got everything laid in decently and roughly.
You can see one, two, three places where the ear might be, a couple places where the eyebrow
might be. That’s fine. I want to let it just build out of that. You might be much
more comfortable, you probably are, frankly, doing a very careful lay-in. I prefer to let
the process dictate the proportions as I draw. What you’ll probably find when you render,
you know, you’ll lay in this eye, let’s eye and all this other stuff, all the features
carefully. Then you start rendering and it gets a little bigger. Or sometimes it gets
a little smaller. It usually gets a little bigger. As you render it you look more carefully
at it. It becomes more important in your head. You’ll render it bigger on the surface.
Oftentimes, if you do too careful of a lay in, you’re going to either it copy it and
it’s going to feel kind of lifeless, kind of stiff. Like a wax version of it.
It's not going to have a lot of life. Or, it’s going to get out of control any way you go,
and what we need to do in the style—here’s the problem with this style: When I start
laying in my tones it’s going to cover my lay-in. I’m going to lose a lot of lay-in,
so all the work I did to lay it down, as soon as I put the tones down as the process demands
that disappears. You have to be in a position that you can rediscover the things that are lost.
So to me it’s not a lot, kind of pointless to put it down so tightly when you’re going
to lose it anyway, so what’s the point of that.
What you can do if you’re doing a commission or this is a painting that is going to be
an important piece, you do several sketches so you get to know the features.
There's a certain rhythm and proportion to her that’s going to be different from anybody else.
We want to get to know that, and then obviously that research is going to help you in the finish.
Okay, so what I’m going to do now, I’m going to start always at the core shadow.
The core shadow is going to be my corner. It’s going to be where the light side meets
the shadow side. The form turns at this point. Out of light becomes shadow. Shadow is a dark
idea. Light is a light idea. We get that separation of value, and the audience goes ahh, form.
They recognize that from the real world. When they look at the real world they realize that
if I look at flesh every time the value changes on that flesh the plane changes. You can get
rosy cheeks and farmer tans and things like that, but in general we have, let’s say
the pink flesh. As the values change the color changes. The plane changes. As the value changes
the plane changes. What we’re seeing there is a little formula of nature. Different value
equals different plane. Different value equals different plane. So if I render the side of
the nose or the side of the cheek the same value as the front of the cheek it’s going
to be flat. If I render the shadow side darker than the light side we’re going to see that
boxy turn. We’re going to see that plane change. Different value, different plane.
Same value, same plane. We’re going to lose that pop of form if we don’t
separate all the values from all the lights.
So look what happens now. As I start at the core I load up that cheek bone, the corner
of the cheek, very, very dark. Then I’m going to take the pigment that I’ve put
on there, and I’m going to spread back into the shadows.
I’m going to have to work hard to do it.
You can see how aggressive this medium is. It’s a lot of work.
We have to work it in there.
You can see how as I blend that I’m losing my construction lines, aren’t I?
You can come back and sketch them back in at that moment.
I need that eye socket because I’m going to work it, so you go
back and do that or not, as you need to. Let’s go ahead and pick up that eye socket a little bit more.
Now, I’m going to come the eyebrow roughly. The eyebrow roughly is the core shadow.
I’m going to start at that core shadow, and I’m going to scrub it down in. Now,
look at the mess I’m making here. I’m going over outside the eye socket shape.
You can see I scrubbed that in pretty strongly. Later there will be some tones maybe on there
that aren’t as heavily scrubbed in. At this stage I can’t really smudge that around
with the brush because it’s embedded into that surface.
This is one of the things I like about this paper. Notice the rich pores. As you scrub
that you’re bringing up the pores of the paper. It feels like the pores of flesh, really.
It really has a lush, lively quality to it.
Now, when you’re deciding the value in the
light side, the half-tone value, key it to the highlight. There’s going to be a highlight
on the forehead, highlight on the nose. The highlight on the nose is the brightest highlight.
I need to make that nose and forehead dark enough that when I put that highlight in there
it pops. I’m going to just drag that out like so.
I’ve got some other lessons on the site with this same technique,
and I’ve gone over in those lessons more carefully the rendering techniques.
I won’t spend quite as much time on that on this one, so you can refer to those.
There are a couple figure drawing lessons particularly that speak carefully about the lesson.
Notice, too, I cut have put down a tone like toning
a canvas over the whole thing and then drawn over it.
You’re going to see by scrubbing this down it’s going to create some problems
in getting back to the white paper though. So if those are problems you don’t want
to have to fight with, you might want to kind of work around those lit areas, you know,
and not scrub the whole thing down.
I always think of this as the first date stage of the
drawing. We’re getting to know each other. I’m getting to know what she needs as a
personality or as a work of art. She’s getting to know how I think as I put things down.
So kind of my style with this subject, with this personality, with this set of expectations
as I do the art. How is that going to play out? It’s going to be organic for a while.
I should just kind of, you got your thing and you knock out your version of things every time.
I certainly have my style. It’s important to me that I have a strong style, but I don’t
want it to become a dead formula. I want to surprise myself as I go and say, oh, I can
use a line that way. Maybe I’m going to lose some of the full rendered tone and go to line.
Maybe I’m going to make more interesting an area that somebody else would’ve played
down or I normally would’ve played down. Maybe I always focus on the eyes.
I’m going to focus on the mouth and chin as it drops into shadow.
Maybe I’m going to play long languid shapes coming
down against a cross current of chatter going across.
So I'm just getting to know—as I get to know her neck she has this lovely bow to it, bow neck,
real long beautiful neck and it curves in the reverse.
Normally a neck does this kind of thing, curves back.
She is bowing this way.
In early fashion drawings, kind of mid-century fashion drawings they made a big deal about
a neck that would kind of bow like this. This is kind of giraffe neck, elegant neck.
So maybe I’m going to make a big deal out of that, this movement here. Normally I wouldn’t
darken this as much at this moment, but just to show you. That’s a quirk. That’s something
that’s specific to her. So part of the importance of building this up is as quick as possible
you want to establish her personality. It’s not an ear. It’s her ear or your version
of her ear. It may be that you’re going to work like Michelangelo. You’re going
to have—or as Robert Beverly Hale says, “You’re going to have you’re ideal model
in your head, and she is going to be another version of that ideal.” Or, you’re going
to do more of a portrait, and you’re going to use that ideal model idea as a cannon to
gauge how she varies from that to get her personality.
Michelangelo, though, would take her or him—he’d use a male more likely and make the male female.
That would never be a person you’d find on the street. Every model he ever used became
a Michelangelo creation. So your choice. How do you want to do it? But in the beginning
of your artwork you’re working those things out. You may have a plan. You may have something
that you always do because that’s your style. Or you may be searching for an “in” into
how to conceive, compose this, how to make this about here. It’s your version of her,
but it’s also going to be a unique piece of art in that case. It’s not going to be
a knockoff of your earlier successes. That’s an intention every artist has to struggle with.
How do I become a strong stylist where I make things feel like it’s my idea of
the world, my view of the world? I’m teaching you to see the world as I see the world.
That's really what the audience wants. They know how they see the world. They want an artist
to interpret it. They want an artist to give us a sense of what life ought to be or better
not be or once was. They want us to help them feel a certain way about the world.
We pay artists a lot of money to be surrogate emotional sponges basically.
We want the actor to cry for us.
If the audience can watch that actor feel pain, feel anger, feel great happiness
in public, it gives them the excuse to feel the emotions they’re feeling if they’ve
been hiding from the public. And so one of art’s great powers is to help the audience
feel what it desperately needs to feel but doesn’t have the means or the courage to do it.
Actors, at great cost, I often think, you know, living their adult lives feeling
these heavy feelings, I think, wears you out, probably.
We’re paying them a lot of money to do that emotional work for us.
When we come to piece of art we want to feel. We want to walk up and we want to feel something.
That’s why art can be transformative.
It can bring a society into alignment, into place where
they can agree emotionally on something, or they can help the individual
work through that emotional baggage. Those feelings that the art is showing that the
audience didn’t have the tools, the emotional tools to deal with; it’s powerful stuff.
And probably that’s why you’re doing art. On some level it’s to feel that incredible
high of making something real, of working through certain emotions in your life that
you don’t quite understand, don’t know what to do with.
To use it to make a world that is as the real world should be, all those kinds of things.
One of the great gifts an artist to give to his or her society is show them a utopia.
Show them how the world ought to be. Wouldn’t it be great if the world were this? Utopias
are powerful, powerful things. Disneyland is a utopia. The Harry Potter, The Dinotopia
series if even named after that. Those are worlds that those artists created that are
places we wish we could spend more time with, we could live in. Mary Poppins. Avatar that
just came out, all that big stuff, heavy stuff, important stuff. It can be glorious stuff.
Notice as I’m talking I’m just kind of feeling for the information. You can see I
moved that cheekbone around a few times and moved the eye socket around a few times.
I'm letting the excess tone blend off into the surrounding areas to start to make it dark
enough or knowing that I’ll end making it lighter later.
When you’re first starting out with this technique, less is more. Don’t try and finish it all off.
Let it be a start rather than a finish. It takes
the pressure off. If you really get rolling and you naturally flow into a lovely finish,
that’s great, but the finish part can be difficult. Finishing something off can be difficult.
Adding evermore detail is usually what that means. That can be a tough way to go.
That can be just too ambitious.
I like to start these with the idea that I may not take this very far, and then oftentimes
you can get way into it. You find your way and it turns out terrific.
We should all be so lucky.
comes up, and it has a slight accents as I’m drawing it and as I see it with our lovely
model here. It has some natural corners. The ear I’m making square on top. The hairline
I’m starting to pick up. Now I’m picking up a series of shapes that ring more or less
true to what I see, but there’s a theme. There’s an idea behind that now.
The idea is that the curves always have corners.
That can mean something. That can be some deep,
philosophical, emotional truth that you’re trying to get to, or it can just be that it
looks pretty or it looks more accurate, you know, whatever it is.
But I’m constantly thinking of the whys of something.
Why does that hairstyle feel like it fits with that face?
Well, that forms here kind of rise up. They’re lifted up, held up nicely. You know,
they’re not being taken down with gravity. She’s a young, healthy woman, fresh face,
and it’s pulling. Things have lifted up. They’re in ascension, and the bloom of life
kind of thing. So that hairstyle is really like flame in a faux hawk kind of thing is
going up and playing up that. Now, I’m cropping this off so I can get more face in the camera
for you to do rendering on the features,
but I’m going to play several times probably with this idea of that going up.
So in this case, rather than taking kind of up, I took it up and out. I like that.
That up and out mimics and exaggerates the up and out of the
bone structure down that contour of the face.
Oftentimes the hair as a shape can be something that contrasts against, or something that reinforces.
Maybe you have a hairstyle that really pulls out against that long face.
The hair really is a dramatic difference, a contrast to the hair shape to the face shape.
Or in this case, it reinforces and exaggerates that. You’ll see that in fantasy, in science fiction
designs of aliens or armor or something. They’ll take natural features, the natural anatomy
of an animal or a person, and they’ll double it up. They’ll exaggerate it. They’ll
play certain things down. Make other things wildly exaggerated like a Klingon in Star Trek.
They’ll take the natural bumpy brow ridge of an angry character, the furrowed
brow, and they’ll go crazy with that so those guys always look angry. They’ve got
this mottled, gnarled, furrowed structure for a forehead. They’re just taking the
idea of someone who’s grumpy and making a grumpy race out of it to the “nth” degree.
Those kinds of things.
So we want to be sensitive to those kinds of possibilities.
Not just copying it but translating it, making it be that way with purpose.
So I have kind of a over-the-top and it can get a little decorative in the muscle and stuff, but still,
I want everything to be in service of the function. If I do a heroic boxer or worker
type all those muscles are exaggerations of the reality, but they’re also more functional.
They’re going to be a better product. They’re going to be a better specimen for what they
do if they had that kind of anatomy. So it’s functional in that sense. These lines I’m
drawing here, I love lines so no matter how much I render I always leave a lot of line.
These constructions lines here, what I’m doing is I’m really trying to feel the little
ridge here. There is a symmetry/asymmetry going on. The symmetry is there is an eye
socket over here and an eye socket there. The asymmetry is no two eye sockets are perfectly
equal because we all have a certain imbalance to our face. That’s nature. The pose itself
is an asymmetrical pose. It’s not a perfect profile. It’s not a perfect front view.
It’s a three-quarter. It’s between those two station points. So we’re getting a less
and more kind of thing. So I want to design this with its own character as opposed to
that because of the asymmetry involved. They have to have a relationship. This eyebrow
arches up. That eyebrow has to arch up. This eye line tracks along the structure of the
face in this position. That eye is going to be fairly close to that too. This brow ridge
bumps. I’m going to feel over to this other bump.
If you look to the reference you can see—
let me lighten it up—you can see the brow ridge gets a little lighter here.
So that lovely little lift of value I want to track all the way across to this other side
and feel how those connect through. I’m laying those construction lines that I will
leave or I will remove as I decide as is appropriate.
Now, let’s say this is a little area. I tend to just go ahead and smear this down.
We’re going to have the shadow under the nose anyway toward the mouth. But let’s
say we want to be a little more careful with this stuff. Let’s say you don’t like this
way I’m working. It’s kind of a messy way, isn’t it? It’s getting kind of dirty.
That might be something that bugs the heck out of you, and I could understand that. We
may not want to do it. So if we wanted to lay in these forms, especially these floating
shadow forms in here without spilling over into the other stuff, the background or the
other lit areas, I could use the stump.
You can see I can be as precise as a pencil lead here and lay it in.
Of course, as I said before we can use it, and as I did before we can
use it to draw. She has a pretty delicate small nose.
I’m going to make it even more delicate and a little smaller, I think.
I’m making it a little closer. It’s not quite as long as it really is.
I can get away with that for a couple of reasons.
It'll make her eyes look bigger, the eye sockets look bigger, whether I show the eye structure in
there or not. That’s always a good idea to show beauty. You know, the eyes are the
window in kind of idea. We make a lot out of eyes in our society, as most societies do.
The eye becomes a very powerful, even magical item.
Seeing is always made a big point of in almost every society.
Making this smaller will make those bigger, but also we’re slightly underneath her,
and so being, if you look at me for a second—you don’t have a choice, I guess. The editor
made you. If you look at my nose when I’m straight on to you. I’m looking right at
you. You are seeing a nose that is foreshortened. It’s coming out at you. So if I look down
now you’re seeing that full length. Make sure I’m on camera here. Now you’re seeing
the full length of it. But when I come up it’s foreshortened. So if you get just a
little bit below me, or I get a little bit above you by tilting my head or stepping on
the ladder, look at how quickly the nose foreshortens and gets small.
So when you get under, she’s tilted like this,
if you get under just a little bit that nose starts to quickly lose its length.
And so doing what I did seems perfectly natural even though it’s a bit of an exaggeration.
That’s what we’re going to find as we do our portrait-type work or we look at our
favorite portrait artists. Van Dyke, one of the great portrait painters of all time, Sargent,
of course. Their portraits were partly caricatures.
Think of a Ralph Stedman, if you know his work,
how he would do a crazy portrait with wild eyes and exaggerated. Any cartoons or
go to a Disneyland-type place, a theme park where they have a cartoonist sitting down
there doing sketches of people for a few bucks. They take whatever the quality is and they’ll
overdo it. They’ll make a big deal out of it. So if it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger they’ll
give him a huge jaw. If it’s Jay Leno they’ll give him a huge chin. If it’s Jack Nicholson
they’ll give him incredibly arched eyebrows. They play up that.
The really terrific portrait painters who are “realistic” will do that also.
They'll make the eye socket deeper, the neck longer, the lashes fuller, the lips redder.
You know, the wrinkles smoother. All those things to play up, flatter, and to explain.
Give an insight into that personality. You look at Rembrandt and the Rembrandt portraits, probably
the most famous portrait artist of all time, and you go look at that Rembrandt portrait
and you see a window into that subject’s soul. You feel like you know him. I always
think, no, you get a window into the artist’s soul. You know a little bit about him. In
a very real way every painting, every drawing you ever do is a self-portrait. We’re learning
a lot about you potentially when we do that. But having said that, we want the likeness
there, the character there even though the emotion is a mixture of the subject’s attitude.
His haughty quality, her innocence or guile or whatever the artist is seeing there, and
his or her own attitude they’re projecting onto kind of thing.
Anyway, there’s the start of the nose. I’m going to knock this down. Here’s another
trick, a portrait trick. The problem—let me do it right now actually even though we’ll
do more work. Notice what I did. I took my kneaded eraser, my silly putty eraser and
I made a little finger so that I could come into this tight area at the tip of the nose
and work, softening a little transition to tone there I didn’t like.
Notice how slow and patient I’m being.
I’m not coming in and scrubbing it out. I’m easing in.
Easing in a little more, a little more, little to the left, little to the right. Take your time.
Then what we can do is feel the highlight.
Notice as I start to pull out that highlight, the highlight is going to
be more dramatic if that nose started as a darker value. The half-tone of the nose was darker.
That makes the highlight lighter. The half-tone of the nose is lighter.
It makes the highlight less impactful. So what a lot of people, Frans Hals would do this. He’d
have these bar types, people hanging out in bars and taverns. They’d have a mug and
they’d be smiling into the camera or out of the painting. They’d have a rich, red
nose because they were drunk. Rosy cheeks and rich, red nose. By making that rose redder
and by making it redder, making it darker, what they did, when Frans Hall did put the
highlight on there, boom! Pow! It really jumped off. So one of the things you can do is knock
that nose down in value, and then when you put the highlight on there you get the pop.
Because think about it, if I’m in a front view or a three-quarter view, the nose, which
has its own perspective, remember face is going this way, nose is going that way.
It's got its own perspective. Having it in profile, no problem. It just shows its silhouette.
But in any kind of front view, three-quarter to full-front, we’re seeing the nose contained
inside the contour of the cheeks. We don’t have any linear way of explaining that nose
is coming out. We have to then depend on the audience knowing it does, and that will help.
We can help the issue by forcing the value range.
Remember I said different value, different plane. Different value, different plane.
Same value, same plane. If I make these shadow side the same value as a light side it’s
going to look flat no matter how well constructed in line it is. The tonal pattern will say
it’s flat. If I can make that tonal pattern two strong values, so shadow is a dark value
and the light is a light value and they’re distinct and different, boom we get that deep form.
A different value, different plane. Same value, same plane.
The other way to think of that is different value, different plane; same value, same plane.
If I want this area of the picture to come towards the
audience and this area of the picture to go away from
the audience I need to make these a different value also. Or in the rendering a different value range.
So different value, different plane.
When you get into rendering you’re going to have a range of dark values in the shadow,
a range of light values in the light side. Instead of two values, two value ranges.
But it works this way too. I can make the tree closer to me than the field by making the
tree a different value or a different value range than the field. That’s what we’re
doing with the nose. We’re going to make the nose a different value range by pushing
the half-tone a little darker. It’s just one possible choice and you may or may not
see it in the model. In this model we do not see it. But if I push it a little bit darker
then the highlight can look a bit lighter. I’ll make the highlight lighter, the half-tone
darker. That’ll be a different value range than say the cheeks, which I’ll make more
middle range. The half-tones don’t get as dark. The highlights don’t get as hot. It’ll
set back a couple inches as we need it to. So that’s what I have going on there.
And if I tighten up that zigzag, the tighter I make it the more time I spend working back and forth through it.
The more rendered and perfect the transition will be.
I use that technique in every medium I use. That’s why I can work so fast.
I tend to work quite fast when I’m not talking. That’s a lot of it.
I've got a strategy for getting those gradations. The difficulty in any medium, the most difficult
part of any medium is almost always the gradation. How do we create a gradation with that medium?
How do we blend shadow into light? Foreground into background, red into blue, those kinds
of things. The zigzag is how I do it. What I do is I go to the border between the two
values, and I zigzag along that border and go down into one and/or down into the other.
I’m going to take the pigment off the stump this way. I’m going to come in and start
to get the socket over here down to the value it deserves.
Notice my goal here is to start simple and become
more complex, from simple to complex. Big and simple, small and complex.
That’s my strategy here. But big and simple doesn’t mean big and generic. This is a
simplification of her nose. But it’s her nose. It’s not my nose. It’s not somebody else's nose.
This is a simplification of these eye sockets, but it has the character of the eye sockets.
One of my pet peeves is when people, especially in sketch drawing, quick drawing classes where
they’re working two to 25 minutes kind of thing. They’ll put generic eggs for heads
and generic tubes for torsos or whatever. It could anybody. It could be an old man,
a young woman. It could be someone who is healthy, someone who is sickly.
It's not giving us any real insight into that particular moment, that character or that moment in history,
You know, whereas the more sophisticated draftsman will do something simple, yet characteristic.
Those are my two criteria for doing a form. I want to make it as simple as possible so I can get
control over it. I can animate it. I can change its position as I need to. That can be for
the animation industry, or it could be because I want to animate the pose and make it more
dynamic is able to give me than the model is able to give me like Rubens did with his
models. I can animate if it’s simple. But also, simply a characteristic. I want to be
able to design it and make it a heroic figure or a suspicious figure or a young female figure
or a wise old man figure. I want to make it distinct so then it can become a design issue.
So big and simple allows me to—I should say simple, yet characteristic. As simple
as possible, yet still characteristic. Not generic. Not just snowman egg shapes for everything,
but characteristic to what an arm would be as opposed to what a finger would be.
And her arm as opposed to his finger. Trying to capture that right off the bat.
It slows you down a little bit, but notice how I have
less rendering work to do if I do that. If it’s simple yet characteristic I’m
closer to the finish. As we look here, if I have to stop at any point it still rings true.
It is still something that has value to it. It’s informative to the audience.
It’s something you can be proud of because it is reminiscent of the character you are
working with. If I have to stop and pick it up it’s easy to begin again.
If it’s a generic ear rather than her ear, I’ve got a tremendous amount of work to
finish it off during the rendering stage. Much more work. If it’s just a ball for
a head rather than an egg shape, or if it’s just an egg shape instead of a pill shape.
It’s just a pill shape instead of something that is a little more chiseled here, rounder
here, slightly bigger here, slightly tapered here. All those things make it easier and
easier to finish off, give the audience more and more character information about the personality
involved like a good story should. Most importantly, it’s going to make a better connection to
the next simple, yet characteristic form. When I add the neck or the hairstyle or the
hat or whatever the heck it is. Simple, yet characteristic does all those good things
about the form that efficient and useful and professional, and it’s going to allow me
to fit in to the next form or series of forms. That’s always the biggest problem in art,
is getting things to fit together, getting the light and the shadow to feel like they’re
on the same surface. Getting the foreground and background to feel like they’re in the
same environment. Getting the orange and the blue to feel like they’re in the same harmonious
painting. It’s the relationship between things that is the most difficult thing.
If I can keep my stuff characteristic of what I see and what I’m after then it’s going
to do a yeoman’s job of making it a composition, making it a complete piece of art. Making
a bunch of things one thing. That’s what art really does. It makes a bunch of notes
a song. It makes a bunch of scenes and characters a story. It makes a bunch of colors a painting,
a bunch of steps a dance. That’s art’s job is to take all the stuff that seems to
have little or no connection and find an intimate, deep, mysterious, powerful, maybe even religious
or philosophical connection there. That’s what we’re after when we look at art. That’s
why we look at it. We might say, oh, isn’t that pretty? But then you walk on like a window
shopper. If it’s not just pretty, it’s profound, then you stop and you find you’ve
spent 20 minutes there when you thought it was five minutes. You haven’t moved. You come
back again and you can’t get it out of your mind. You feel like it was made just for you
and nobody else because it speaks to you so deeply. That’s what we want our art to do.
So that’s what we aspire to.
The standard that I apply to it is does it ring true? In whatever the technique is, whatever
stage it is. You know, when you lay in that first gesture line of the spine or that first
simple shape of the head does it ring true to what I see or what I want to say about
the world. What I see and what do I want to say about the world. That’s what we’re
trying to do. If you just put down a placeholder, just put down something that’s good enough
that tells you where the head is then you’re not helping yourself. You have to come back
eventually and make a decision, and what you have down there is just in the way of that
decision. It’s hurting you rather than helping you. Then tendency will be to assume it’s
correct even when it’s more than likely not correct. You just slop down stuff. Get
down to the toes of that standing gesture drawing, and you’re going to assume as you
come back that the toes are in the right place. They probably aren’t. They’re probably
not connecting well to the other stuff.
Alright, so let’s work on this nose-into-mouth area. I want to give her a little more chin,
it looks like. We all have our little quirks. I almost always do that. I almost always give
not enough chin in the lay in. If you know what your quirk is you can kind of plan for
that and don’t commit until you get down there to check it, or make it a little extra
long if you’re making it too short. Make it a little shorter than you think if you
tend to make it too long, that kind of thing.
Now, we have the cast shadow of the nose on to the barrel of the mouth, not onto the lips
although they come down to the lips but onto the mouth’s structure there. When you have
a cast shadow the cast shadow is a chance to show the contour of the form. This is going
to bump down over the mouth and show the character of the mouth. Let me cut this back so you
can see it a little bit stronger. I want to feel that.
Notice that we have—I’ll show you some traditional flattering portrait techniques
here. Notice too, we have a heavy shadow under the nose, which is almost always the case.
If you’re going to get any kind of shadow in the eye socket, that’s going to help
define the socket and the lids. In this case it’s almost completely in shadow. It’s
just little flecks of light coming up. You’re going to end up with a quite lock cast shadow
off the nose. Now, her chin is up. She’s lifted her chin up a little bit, and that’s
helped mitigate that shadow, but still that’s a long shadow.
There’s a couple techniques.
The problem with a long shadow is that shadow is going to cast over the mouth. That’s
not considering very flattering usually, when this lays over and cuts across that, especially
if you’re doing a female portrait. You’re tracing to show a grace delicacy, let’s
say, or of a child portrait. That’s a heavy thing to have in that kind of portrait.
You can shorten it. You can just come back and say, I’m going to make it shorter.
Or, you can lighten it. You can have it fade out. Our reference does that a little bit anyway
because the lighting on this has a softness. It’s not a real hard light. You can fade
that out a little bit or a lot. You’ll see this quite a bit in especially portrait drawings
rather than the paintings. In paintings they feel obligated to be a little more real, and
so they’ll come in usually and anchor that cast shadow. A drawing oftentimes can look
like that, and because there’s a sketch quality. Oftentimes there is line in there.
Little or no environment. Background to it, you know, those kind of things.
The artist feels comfortable making those stylizations.
In a painting they oftentimes obligated to be more realistic, more true, which
can be a shame, actually, feeling that they have to.
too far down. I want to lift it up a little bit. I cut out, I just took an Exacto knife
and cut a generic S-curve. Then I can use that to trim back a little bit.
Notice with this dark shadow this isn’t going to do a great job of taking that dark shadow off.
This will do a better job, but it’s a big blunt instrument, so we have to be careful.
I can also use my sandpaper. I’ll show you that a little bit later. Instead of sandpaper
we can use an electric eraser. It’s like a dremel tool. Instead of a steel bit it’s
got a long tube of eraser material. The bit is an eraser. It spins and abrades the surface
and more gently takes the pigment off than using this. I’ll just show you.
You're basically sanding back, sanding into the paper.
Like I said, this is a tough paper. It can take the abuse.
Let’s see how I can sand back and get to the light side.
A rough eraser is all it is acting as right now. I can use that to wear back the paper to the white.
You can see it tears it at times. I use that. I like that tearing action. But an electric
eraser is a more gentle version of that.
Anyway, those are choices. We have choices here.
The upper lip is just a “CAPLIUM”. I’m going to lean over for just a second to take
a look at this. I want to move it just a little bit back. I’m seeing the drawing from a
slight angle. It affects what I’m doing.
It’s important when you do these lectures
to always give a caveat. We call it an excuse. So if I screw up I can say, well, it was the
angle of the paper that did it. Otherwise, it would have been perfect. Always have an
excuse available when you do your gallery shows in New York or wherever.
When the collector spend thousands of dollars on your work but doesn’t quite like it, you have an excuse
ready to say it’s not my fault. Always try and do that in life. “It’s not my fault.”
“Different value, different plane” and “It’s not my fault.”
I’m easing into the solution because this is a tricky part. It’s a delicate operation here.
It’s rolling around the barrel of the mouth.
You want to pay particular attention to the corner of the mouth...
and the corner of the mouth.
Notice that it’s lying at an angle here. This is lying at an angle too.
We want to make sure we keep that angle more or less true depending on the expression you’re
trying to show. I bring that up, and she’s
looking a little more happy than she is in the reference.
Or, we’ll say let’s make her that strong personality.
The thing that's making her happy is the Kewpie doll curl to these corners.
We’ve got these corners coming out, they come up here.
We’ll simplify this off. Here is the upper lip here.
When you turn that up it starts to smile. The more you turn it up the more it’ll start to give
a little bit of a smile to it. We’re going to play that back down.
The other thing you can do is lay it in—that’s a start to it. I’m going to dust it back
now so it’s a little easier to correct it when I get ready to correct it. I’m going
to keep the drawing I did, but I’m going to dust it back so it’s a ghost of the drawing.
If I do it with this stump it’s easier to ghost back like that.
I’m looking at this…
This…so that needs to come up.
Most of that is in shadow.
Okay, so I’m scrubbing. I work very hard to imbed that pigment, scrub that pigment in there.
It makes it harder to change, but it gives me the easiest way to get that smooth gradation
without those little problematic little goobers of value.
Okay, then all of this just gets really dark down here.
Maybe I’ll come over here to that dark area.
At this point, I can kind of hatch across. If I start out hatching, I start at the core
shadow and blend. If I don’t do that I hatch, and then when I blend it becomes very, very
difficult to get rid of those hatch marks. Once I do have pigment staining as long as
I’m fairly careful and have somewhat light touch, I can go over that with subtle hatches,
and those hatches will fade out or all but fade out. They’ll be easier to manage. That’s
what I’m doing there. I was hatching lightly into the body of the shadow.
So then it fills in as I need it to fill in and is not giving me technical problems a little bit later.
So you attack it like a maniac, berserk rage, and
have a delicate touch when you need a delicate touch.
It’s the back and forth, back and forth.
That’s right. Let me lighten that nose a little bit.
games. I know the shadow needs to be dark, but I have an area where it falls into the
mist, where the mist fades it back so it’s not a full contrast of value. So I’ll pick
out areas maybe up here where it really pops in value. Another place where it also pops
in the reference all ghosts back. Once I’ve got the light and shadow pattern it can be
a more contrasting or more subtle pattern. I’m not really mucking with the reference
in a way that’s going to screw me up. It’s going to confuse my rendering.
It's just a matter of taste.
I’ll go back and forth. Add a little dark. Well, maybe that’s too much. I’ll take it away.
For now it seems okay. Switch over to this again.
I drew it once and integrated into the tonal pattern. It’s going to be softer down here.
I still felt the ghost of that original drawing.
I’m going to come back again. redraw it, correct it a bit.
Make it a little more of what it needed to be, define it.
I’m going to do it now with the reflected light area. I’ll explain it in just a second.
There’s a little muck up of value there on the paper that’s kind of twisted the lips.
I’ll have to do a little surgery on that.
You’ll tend to find the pillowy shape of the upper lip and lower lip, they don’t
fit together perfectly. You’ll get areas where you can see through or you can feel through.
At the corners of the mouth and at these little high points of that capital M
(if you think of the upper lip as a capital M kind of thing) along the line of the mouth
these points and these points get a little deeper and darker just because of the upper
lip form and lower lip form having a little bit of a leaky connection there.
Okay, now here’s going to be the chin down here.
Let me lighten up that upper mouth area
for a moment, show you what I’ve got. This area in here is in light.
Light up here, of course. All this upper lip and most of the lower lip is in shadow.
All the chin is in shadow. And so what’s happening—let’s come over
here and take a look at our laws of light. Look to my laws of light lectures and you’ll
get a full explanation of it, but this will show you the rendering of complex forms that
that won’t. That’s a good example of it.
So we’ve got a form, and at some point that form by its own character—let’s say the
light source is over here as it is in our case, really more up this way. That form is
going to slowly turn by its own character, and eventually it will turn out of light.
At some point there will be no light able to hit that form. That becomes shadow. The
beginning of that shadow is our corner. We want to feel that everything on this side
is light. Everything on this side is shadow.
By careful rendering, we can move it into a suggestion of a reality that is pretty convincing.
It can be very convincing at times.
So notice what happens. We end up having this border core, as it’s called, of shadow.
Then it naturally, just in the process of what we’re doing, gradates into the shadow,
gradates back into light. When it gradates into light we call that half-tone. When it gradates into
shadow we call that shadow. The fact that there is value ranges in both is a curiosity,
but it’s just we usually absorb it and take care of it. What is happening in reality is
the light source is striking the form, lighting the form. Where the form is facing most directly
towards the light source it’s tends to have a highlight in that area. So highlight and half-tone.
Over here it’s all shadow, though. That light source cannot strike down here.
But as it strikes the ball it also strikes maybe the tabletop that the ball is on,
and it strikes the wall over here that the tabletop is against, maybe.
Just set that up.
So as it strikes the tabletop that light bounces back up.
Light bounces. It’s like dropping a million tiny
little ping pongs. They hit down and they bounce back up, or it splashes back up if
you want to think of it that way. It hits the table top and bounces back up, and the
light then lights by an indirect method. Direct light, indirect light. It lights the shadow
a little bit usually. Usually not a lot, a little bit. What we end up having is the core
shadow is the place where no direct light hits it, and very little indirect light usually
hits it. So oftentimes it’s the darkest part on the form. Then that form slowly turns
under. As it turns under it’s going to catch that bouncing light off the table. Bouncing
light is coming back up and lighting it, so we get a natural gradation going down as it
turns under, and a natural gradation back up in the lights as it goes that way. So we
have a double gradation. It’s going in both directions. So that means every plane that
faces down in the shadows will tend to get lighter.
Every plane that faces up in the shadows will tend to get darker.
As they turn left or right it’ll depend on the angle of the light source.
In this case, since the light source is over to the right as it turns to the left it’ll
tend to get lighter. As it turns to the right in here it’ll tend to get darker. That’s
why we’re going to have this chin, the top of this chin getting quite dark in the shadow.
That’s going to go into that pouty underside of the mouth structure. When you pout it’s
like your tucked-in shirt coming out your pants and hanging over your belt loop. Your
chin is the belt buckle. The belt buckle/chin pushes up, and the relatively loose forms
of the mouth drape to either side, and you get that kind of pouty look.
Look at your kids and you can get a lot of practice drawing that...Just kidding.
This doesn’t turn up quite as much, so it’s not going to get as dark. We’re going to
make an adjustment for that. This is turning up.
This is turning up.
There’s a core there. This core extends.
This is turning a little bit to the right relative to the rest of the jaw and cheek.
You can see that reverse—it’s like Alice in Wonderland. It’s a reverse image.
The little ridge of the lower lip—the lips are made of a membrane rather than skin so they
have a different texture. Different color. That’s why they’re pink and red and kind
of fluted. They have creases in them that are different material. But where they come
together, where the skin stitches into the membrane, there’s a little ridge oftentimes
where the membrane ends. So right here, that’s not just a change of local color. It’s a
change of form. Oftentimes, if you look carefully you’ll see that end of the membrane bump
and then go into the chin. That bump can catch value changes.
That’s what’s happening here.
The lower lip is turning up before it tucks up against the upper lip, and that’s
why it’s getting darker there. We’re getting this change, very interesting change of values there.
You have to be very careful, of course, with how you do it.
There’s a half-tone coming out of that.
You can see there is very little change in value, you know, the range of values in here
between the upper lip, upper mouth in light and the chin facing up and down. There’s
not that much—there’s a little accent here, but not that much of a value change.
We’re going to keep that subtle, at least a first. Then we can always decide to pump
that value change a little stronger than it really is or realize it was a little stronger
than we first assumed, that kind of thing.
Just settling those tones back in and softening them a little bit.
Here’s the neck tucking under. It’s turning up as it tucks under
that chin so it’s getting darker. Any forms that turn up in the shadow get darker. Forms
that turn down in the shadow get lighter. The exact reverse of what the light side is
doing. You say it and it’s pretty easy, but once you’re into the thick of things
it’s equally easy to screw it up because you are having to reverse your thinking there.
It’s very easy to kind of revert back.
of a fun little bit, so we’ll pick that up.
Notice if I put a few dark marks there
it tells you just how subtle and ghostly this is.
It’s a nice way to contrast it.
Notice I changed that neckline again.
I’m just going to leave that old choice.
You may decide that’s not appropriate for what you’re doing, and then may come back in and erase it.
I like to see those corrects, actually, in the drawings.
In that shadow area, what I can do rather than rendering the heck out of it—
I did quite a bit in here. I did quite
a bit of rendering in there, relatively. Here maybe I’ll just do line.
Go look at your favorite artist. Many, many artists do a little or a lot of line instead
of true rendering in the shadows.
Not all of them and not in every case. Many do.
A lot of the Brown School that I always mention, Rubens and Rembrandt, Van Dyke.
Okay, we’ll start working on that forehead a little bit now.
You can see how by doing the highlights you get more form, more pop of the form.
It doesn’t add, it doesn’t save you if your form isn’t
working. It just gives you a little more pop.
The highlights should have a hierarchy. Find out what is going to be the brightest highlight.
What's the next brightest? You know, don’t make them equal. Like telling a good story, each
character will have a little bit different personality and will have a smaller or bigger
role in this story being told. Same way with our highlights: If you make them all equal
then it gets spotty. You get these dots all over. You see that quite a bit in people’s work.
It’s bad, bad, bad to do that.
Okay, we’ll use this little guy here.
I know that eyeball is going to go this way
As it goes into the right a little bit it gets a little darker into the right quite
a bit, gets quite a bit darker away from reflected light. This cheek and the ear are laying back
and catching more reflected light. The convolutions of the ear (which we chose not to make a big
deal out of), the inner eye socket, and the lips and such as they turn
that way will get much stronger.
This side of the nose comes back. It should catch more light, but actually the cheek bone
and the eye socket are blocking it so it stays dark too. Sometimes you’ll see little contradictions,
seeming contradictions of these little rules, and it’s because there is some blockage
of light or some extra reflected light, secondary tertiary light you hadn’t counted on.
It would have been fine and go ahead and turn this lighter because of this to keep our internal
logic going, and the audience would never have thought that, oh, he shouldn’t have done that,
or she shouldn’t have done that because the cheekbone would’ve blocked it or whatever.
This is an ambient light. We’re getting a lot of reflected light with a little bit
of catching light from above that upper lid. I’m not going to do—
I say that and I might change my mind as I go.
I’m not going to do a tremendous amount in here because it's in that soft light.
I just don’t think it needs a big deal made of it.
You can make that determination, and then you get into it and you go crazy and make it the most detailed.
You start out with your plan and you don’t always stick with it. That’s fine.
You want to be nimble on those things. It’s always about what the art needs.
That’s a difficult thing when you’re working with a model. If you’ve got a beautiful
young woman or a handsome old man or a distinguished old gentleman, whatever the heck it is,
and you feel obligated. You know, this person is sitting here. It’s a privilege to have
someone to work from. You know, the idea of having a model is a real privilege, so you
feel obligated. You’re a nice person. You don’t want to offend them. You try and make
it look as real as possible or as idealized as possible.
Then you’re really doing what you think the model wants and not what the artwork wants.
In a few more minutes the model will go away.
The artwork is going to be there forever, potentially. What does that artwork
have to have in it to ring true for the work? Not for the model. They said Michelangelo
would use and abuse these models visually,
and they would be just raw material for what his artwork needed.
We need to have a little bit of that sense too.
So, be a jerk to your models, and it just isn’t a problem.
These kind of sketches where it’s realistic but it’s also, the line stays in, it vignettes
out, there is stuff that’s unfinished; there is a long history of using aerial perspective,
using landscape devices in this kind of stuff. Aerial perspective is as things get farther
from me they go back into the atmosphere. They take on the value and even the color
of the atmosphere. That’s what’s going on here.
I’m making this eye socket barely distinguishable in terms of detail.
This has a little bit more. That’s because this is
closer. This is less close. I’m going to pretend that she’s going back into the mist.
That’s going to be my excuse to give less detail.
I do that all the time. You’ll see again that the caricature thing great portrait painters will do.
Oftentimes they’ll make one eye by design, staging it so that this catches light and shadow or that all
drops in shadow, or this is more frontal to us. Notice that that eye is right at us.
This eye is obtuse, going off at an angle. We’ve staged it in such a way so that’s what we’re
looking at, and this just helps frame the argument.
Most portrait painters by nature will make one eye staged with light and shadow,
with position, where the amount of detail is more interesting.
The other they’ll play down somehow. Let it be all in shadow.
Let it have less information or let it fade back in value and detail like a series of mountain
ranges or trees would when going into the fog.
having things show up and disappear or get loud and then turn into a whisper, that kind
of thing is mysterious, and it’s inviting. It draws us in. That’s one of the goals
I have, and I think you should really have in your work is how do you draw us in?
If you give us everything, what is there for us to do? I like to have areas that are less
finished, more obscure, more contradictory line instead of tone
or staging a boxing exhibition in a romantic light.
Doing things, putting things together that shouldn’t quite go together,
or leaving things out that really should be fairly clear. Doing those kinds of things
in a careful manner doesn’t confuse; it invites. The audience wants to be part of this.
They’re here to get something out of your work for them. In that sense they
don’t really care what you have to say. You already said it in the work.
Your argument is there in the frame. It’s their turn to decide what it really means. I really
believe that the art needs to be a dialogue more often than it is, especially realist work.
Well, I can’t even say that. Oftentimes, in modern work it’s not even a dialogue
either. It’s a diatribe or it’s a political argument. It’s an angry statement or a shocking
attack, that kind of thing.
Let’s make it a call for all artists to let the audience have a turn. Let them tell
us what the artwork needs. Oftentimes, they’ll have better insight than we do. We’re working
out of all sorts of issues that we don’t exactly understand. One of the things good
writers know is that a person, a character, a lot of the motivation of that character—
method actors depend on this idea—the motivation that’s driving that character.
The character oftentimes doesn’t know, doesn’t realize why he or she is doing that.
That’s one of the powers of storytelling is that the actor, the write, all the movie makers or
storytellers have a chance to give hints and suggestions or keep it a mystery.
We never quite know why that person made that self-destructive choice, but we can relate to making
self-destructive choices at times, that kind of thing.
If the audience doesn’t find room for themselves they’re going to feel preached to. They’re
going to feel looked down upon, treated like a child rather than a sophisticated adult,
and you’re going to lose a great opportunity there. The fact is they’re pretty darn smart, usually.
They might well be smarter than you in terms of telling you what that stuff means.
I get people coming up to me in shows and they’ll say, “Oh, that’s so interesting
that you did such and such,” and I’ll go, “Yeah, isn’t that?” They’ll leave
and I’ll go I had no clue. I had no intention of making that seem like a tragic expression,
but they just told me that that model is in the deep throes of depression or something
or whatever it is. They project onto it, dig into it and get what they need out of the
piece. You know, it’s not what you need anymore. What you needed was to do the piece.
The audience gets their turn to get what they need out of it.
Okay, so now I’m going to use this sandpaper. I’m going to make a tight edge so it’s
a little knife blade in effect. You can do this scraping with a razor blade too, but
this oftentimes is a better effect. The razor blade will kind of tear and dig kind of like
this did, this more aggressive. That can be useful. You may well want that effect. If
you do it a little lighter hand like I’m doing there you get this nice reverse line like scratchboard
basically. You’re literally making scratch paper.
I’m going to add a little bit of hair texture here. I’m always, whatever medium I’m
doing, I’m always interested in seeing how the shapes, the colors, the values, the material
comes together; charcoal against charcoal, paint against paint. You know, I want to surprise
myself first. If I surprise myself there’s a good chance I’ll surprise you as well.
I’m trying to accent that jaw a little bit since she’s twisting back in here, turning
back toward us. There’s a binding going in there. The pinching neck against the binding
full jaw is creating this nice turn. I want to play that up. That’s going to give that
kind of, I was almost going to say haughty, meaning kind of arrogant, but that’s too
harsh. That’s strong, you know, confident is a much better term. She has this lovely
confident look to her which is played up by her or displayed by her hairstyle, the faux
hawk. She’s got tattoos and stuff, and so she’s a confident young woman who is not
subject to peer pressure. You know, she’s very comfortable with who she is. I’m projecting
all this stuff on her. I’ve never met her. I’m putting all this stuff on here because
that’s going to help me do my work. My work is to show who I think she is or find what
I wish I was out of her, maybe. I wish I had a faux hawk. Notice how doing several lines
adds to that ghostly quality. That’s meat and potatoes for me since I’m trying to
get action and motion in my work. This is a still life in that sense for me where I’m
really keeping her very quiet. Just those lines like the goofy thing I did with the
ear and here, that can even a—instead of motion that’s my way of showing the confidence
of this kind of thing where she’s just vibrating with confident energy. She’s exuding that
type of thing. You come up with all sorts of excuses basically. It sort of comes down
to do what you’re going to do. They’re emotional truths to you, or they are ways
of getting through a difficult area in terms of rendering or picture making. Then it doesn’t
matter unless you’re going to write a thesis about it or do an interview on NPR. It’s
then the audience’s job to figure out what it means or the critic’s job. At that point
it’s kind of your job to listen, I think. See if you can learn something new from them.
It’s a lovely thing about one-man shows. Lots of fun things about it. It’s a big
party and you get nice pats on the back, usually. If you’re getting a lot of people attacking
your work, that’s a problem in a one-man show. Usually, you’re getting very gracious
comments and even thank yous for it, and so you get a nice party after all that hard work.
But also, you get some really interesting and oftentimes insightful analysis. You’ll
get people coming up and say, you know, why did you do this? Even it challenges sometimes.
Why would you do such a thing and mean that? I try not to argue too much with what they,
their perception unless they’re demanding an answer to it. I try and let them, you know,
hold on to that perception because that’s something they needed to get out of that work.
You did it for your reasons. If they see something heavy coming out of that or something transcendent
for them, you know, a breakthrough for them, who are you to say that that is not what it
means? You know, don’t correct them. Go with it. Maybe you can feel a little bit of
what they’re feeling, and that will inform the next series of work you do.
Every little smudge around these features is going to slightly change the expression.
If I darken that she’s going to look a little more serious or a little angrier possibly.
If I take it back she’s going to have a little more wonderment and/or openness to her, possibly.
A few lashes go a long way to say feminine.
Okay, right there, rewind the tape. take a look at that.
We don’t have tape. Rewind the recording there and see does that look better with that new line,
or did it look better before? I think it looked better before, actually.
It just kind of dawned on me as I’ve been doing this series of lectures—I’ve
mentioned a couple times now in some of the other demos—is one of the great strengths
of the website is you can go through it, you know, watch the lesson, and then you can go,
wait a second. How do you do that? Go back and check. Or, wait a second; that didn’t
look as good now. Go back and see what happened and then see if he can bail himself or she
can bail herself out of that. See why it looks better. Why did that get better when he did
that? Maybe that gave a little stronger contrast, a little stronger kick. There was more confident
energy to it, or whatever it is. But it’s a great way to go.
You can’t do that in a class. You’ve got your instructor doing a demo or the guest
speaker doing a talk. He can’t say, wait a second, I missed that point. I was thinking
amount the last thing you said, and I missed the next thing you said. Go back. You can
do that in these recordings and parse it out as they say in journalism.
You know, you go through it moment by moment and see what’s really being said there.
See if you’re getting the whole message or the whole processes.
Usually, you’re not in just a live demonstration
or an unrecorded, or a recording you can’t stop like a TV show that just runs and you
don’t have the means to stop and start. But in this case you can go back and you can
take that lecture and spend quite a bit of time just working through the information
and the transitions, how we get here from there.
I can finish this off a little bit. I’m going to keep this a vignetted base here just because.
We want to put this in an environment, and I’ll show how it changes when we do that.
It can have a pretty dramatic effect.
Notice this is done with more energy just to let the technique reinforce the fact that
I’m not quite as serious about this in terms of making it interesting.
I really don't want you to spend much time here.
Then I get distracted by some other stuff I see.
I don’t even know what they are.
Okay, now this area isn’t going to get any rendering in it, so I don’t have to worry
about that hatching problem that I do in these other areas.
But maybe we want to bring a little bit of value into this background.
Create an environment. There are losses and
gains by doing this. Some of the line quality at the edge will suffer.
This is where this kind of thing is the most useful.
Being aggressive with those tones.
Grabbing some of the tone over here, pushing it back over here.
Do a little bit of surgery to correct and ease a couple things together.
Let’s see, there’s that.
Then maybe we’ll let this forehead flare off a little bit like a camera flare.
You can see that kind of abraded gradation. I like that look.
Come back and correct some of this.
On this side I don’t have to be as careful do I because
it's all smudged-in shadow tones. There I do but I could erase that easily.
Here we’ll come back—and I’m not dealing with the shoulder obviously and the flesh. That could be some
shirt for all we know. That’s fine with me.
I say that and 5 minutes later I might change my mind.
Let’s make it a little less interesting there. She is in kind of a murky world.
Let’s get behind her hair.
It’s coming out her wrap, which I never really described that much.
Again, by design, really, I didn’t want to attract too much attention to that.
You can also use an Exacto knife.
It’s actually a roughened area.
You get a sense of the stubble in her hair.
I didn't want to do it.
Sometimes you get your eraser dirty, so I come over here off the side and pick that up.
I’m just mucking around here, of course.
I’m just trying to make each area interesting without being overwhelming,
without it intruding. Politely interesting.
Okay, so notice these lighter accents in the shadows, the lightest of reflected lights.
Any time you do that it’s going to compete with the light side, so you have to be very
careful when and how you do that, if at all. I would recommend not doing it generally.
But sometimes it’s just appropriate because you’re getting an exceptionally strong reflected light.
Her light chest and shoulder are throwing up a lot of value into that chin area.
It's making its effects felt.
You can see how dirty my fingers have gotten.
So don’t go eating marshmallows after you do this without washing your hands.
Alright. So I think we’ll stop there, maybe there.
I see one little thing I want to do.
I just want to create a little bit of a ripple off this so the ear feels integrated in a simple way back into the jaw.
I like finding these rhythms.
That’s why I did those little linear marks.
That linear mark is a little too much.
See, I should have stopped when I said I was going to stop.
Alright, I promise we’ll stop there. I hope you got something out of it. It’s always
fun to do these. You never quite know how they’ll turn out when you do portraits especially,
but they’re just fun to do. You just take it as far as you're comfortable taking it.
As I’ve said in these other lectures, if this is your first time looking at this, your
first time about to try it, don’t try and go to a finish. Take it into the basic steps.
See this egg down here that I did. Do that kind of stuff. Do a bunch of those little
simple things, and then go to a head or a torso or whatever you want to work on.
Take it about halfway and then stop and then do it again and see if it got better. Do it two,
three, or four times of the same or other images. But just take the drawing halfway
and then begin again. Learn how to begin. Learn how to get the basic mechanics before
you attack the finish. Quite often we expect it to turn out into a perfect finish, and
you can never guarantee that. If you’re not used to the materials you can pretty well
guarantee you won’t do that. There’s no sense frustrating yourself. Just take your
time and ease into it, and then you’re going to have several drawings of different stages
of development, and it’s going to be your own kind of recording of how the process is done.
That’s always helpful to have. We will see you next time.
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Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
14m 21s3. Laying in features of the face and head, establishing highlights
16m 55s4. Bringing out corners in the features, assigning different values
13m 17s5. Creating cast shadows and rendering shadows of the forms
14m 17s6. Drawing the mouth, using a hatching technique, adding details to nose
15m 55s7. Refining reflected light and shadow areas and detailing the mouth and chin
14m 57s8. Adding highlights, line to the shadows, and detailing the hair and eyes
16m 6s9. Using sandpaper to add line and detailing the features
12m 47s10. Scrubbing in the background and using the X-acto knife to add line
10m 25s11. Adding reflected light, finishing touches