Portrait critique
7mo
steven clarke
Hi, I’ve recently returned to drawing and have been practicing my portrait lay-ins. I’m completely self taught and have never benefited from the critiques of other artists. I want to move onto rendering some finished pieces but don’t think I have the basics pinned down just yet Any help or advice you guys have would be massively appreciated cheers 😁
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Oloenpia (Leon Mercx)
these are amazing and I think you really captured their essence, they feel very lifelike because of their great expressions, (especially the second and fourth). if for advice, i'd render out the fourths hair more with hairwaves like in the third. to give that hair shape more depth.
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steven clarke
Ah thanks thats really kind. Glad to know I’m getting the expression to read well. I definitely need to work on the hair more. I either don’t do it enough or do too much and it looks ‘off’. Need to find the nice middle ground
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Arnab
your work is really amazing, I am a self taught artist too so i know the drill. Did you use loomis method for these portraits. You have a very good understanding of the structures of the shapes in face. if i were to critique though I'll just say one thing about the 3rd drawing , the eyebrow section feels a bit off. Hope to see more from you man!
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steven clarke
Ah thanks. Yeah, I start with Loomis (circle, centre line, divide to 3rds) but once I have the big block nits in I’ll use comparative measuring to build it up. Find that works best for me. Ah I know, that has been annoying me as I couldn’t figure out if the eyebrow was off or the eye far too low. Cheers man
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Serena Marenco
I like your stroke, they have a lot of character and even though you keep everything very simple, without rendering, you manage to give a good idea of shapes and planes and express the personality of the subject,  it shows in the second and third portraits very well.
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steven clarke
Thanks Serena. Very kind words indeed
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tes_k_a
why did you leave in the first place!!…the expressions look great and the whole thing
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steven clarke
Thanks. Ah you know sometimes life gets in the way but the past year has put things in perspective and having a platform like this with similar minded people will help me keep at it
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Marshall Zazen
My perception of "render" is pushing lights and darks, which you have begun an eye for here. There are many ways to render, so I won't describe a technique, but rather a core idea. Render is a range of depth. Like plumbing a line when fishing, we need to know how far the water goes down to know we are in range of capturing a fish. The amount of greyscale increases or decreases depending on how far we want to cut up the gradient between black and white. It is possible to "cel shade" render with 2 tones. (Shadow and no shadow) with cross-contour form. The rest is adding in those layers of gradient. Push the darks to define how far BACK the depth will go and allow the numbered range of your render to define the gradient. Squinting your eyes will help you see where the darkest area of anything is. After that, everything else MUST be lighter as you drag it into the light. This is what Michelangelo meant as he sculpted forms and pulled the forms from marble, "freeing" them from the implied darkness of crude stone or in this case, the abyss of anything not currently in light. ____________________ I do see another post discussing "character" or "theme" as opposed to technical prowess, and I agree with them. I fell into a similar trap and sometimes still do. What helps me is to recall master Directors like Akira Kurosawa who may perhaps be wrongly critiqued as pushing his characters to having 1 primary motive/theme/intention. I learned this reading the Essays on Sanjuro ( a film of his that excellently illustrates this very consideration) and may help you push the emotional aspect as you tinker with the render. _____________________ Post script, Excellent carving into the sphere. Your orbital nature of the eyes is great in the structure. I think you've done very well in self-teaching and will continue on beautifully! <3
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steven clarke
These are really useful comments and thanks for your kind words as well. Definitely a lot to work on but this is really going to help me. 😁
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Johnathan
I think the linework shows the form really well even without shadowing. To reduce the mental pressure, I would photocopy and print multiples to practice adding in the shadows and rendering. To make things more challenging you can trying lighting from different angles.
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steven clarke
Hi. Thats a great idea! I always get very tentative towards this point for fear of ruining the picture so practicing on copies would help. Thanks!
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Gabriel Kahn
Hello Steve! Great job! You capture emotions pretty well (maybe you should think about stylization?). I think the thing that your lay-ins could use the most would be core shadows. You already seem to have a good idea of where to put them. Maybe focusing on them a bit more could help you out a ton when you start rendering, especially if you plan to paint over the sketches. Seeing where your shadows end can be extremely useful. Keep up the good work :)
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steven clarke
Thanks Gabriel. I definitely think this is one of the next steps I need to focus on to push them to the next phase. Cheers
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Kristian Nee
Hey Steven! These are awesome! You really have those rhythms down, and the likeness is spot on. I really really like the confidence of your lines. Especially how the neck meets the trapezius on the third image. The first thing I'd say is that though they do look accurate, and the forms read, the portraits as images don't come off as anything other than anatomy studies. Your shapes and edges are definitely correct enough, and I can tell you're a good artist. I think the next step is injecting a bit of what you want to do. At the Watts Atelier, @Erik Gist used to say to me "It's accurate enough, but I can tell you're not really thinking about what you want to do. You're in the generic phase where everything is correct but not necessarily saying anything". If your goal is portraits @Stephen Bauman has some great videos on edges, and values. I think he does an incredible making a portrait really pop with just edges and values. The second thing I'd say is to take better photographs of your drawings. These aren't bad, and they show the drawing well enough. Some people disagree with me, but I think when sharing your drawings (even studies) it's important to take good photographs. That's because every aspect of the photograph gets included into your artwork. If it's badly lit, or there are things in the background, or taken at an angle, those also go into the image and distract from the story and mood. It's especially dangerous taking photographs at an angle because it can stretch or squish the perspective of a drawing. Again, great job, and I'm nit-picking when I say these things. Good luck and I hope this helps, -Kristian
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steven clarke
Thanks for your comments @Kristian Nee. I absolutely agree on your points and you’ve hit the nail on the head, I’m looking at them to be correct but not sure where I’m really ‘going’ with them. I’ll definitely check out your recommendations. 100% on the photos too. They probably don’t do them justice. Really helpful. Thanks so much 😁
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Antonia Kiewitt
I think these look really good! When I’m painting portraits, I like to have the Astro hat on a second monitor. I think that really helps! https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/asaro-head-9d26548182f8465a8e97371a9170561e
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steven clarke
Thanks so much. I love to have a range of tools at my disposal so this will come in really handy
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