Two Concurrent Sketches, Dad and the Girls

Welcome to part two of this reckless “drawing two things at once” series. Basically, I was so pumped up from feeling like I’ve actually been improving, I decided to sketch two scenes concurrently. This was not my best idea, as I felt compelled to finish too much too quickly. The smaller sketch suffered in quality partially because of that. The larger drawing, though, I think actually turned out well!

As I mentioned in the other post, things started out fine. I appreciated having some variety, and being able to switch back and forth. As I started layering color, I could pretty quickly see that this one was working out better. Because the facial features were larger, it was much easier to capture accurate finer points. Although I didn’t like my self-imposed and sort of neurotic need to rush, which increased the further along I got, I think this sketch had a good result. In fact, I think this one is one of my best efforts so far. So, even though the companion piece didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, the end results overall were worth it.

What do I think went right? Well, I think the skin shading was solid, and the blending in everyone’s hair turned out well. In fact, I think it’s the best depiction I’ve done on my oldest daughter’s bright hair. Facial features and resemblances were also pretty much on target; this definitely looks like all three of us. I don’t see any features or areas that have significant mistakes or problems. I’m even pleased I was able to get the detail of my youngest munching on a piece of cake…although it does almost look more like a pizza roll or something.

Even though I think a lot went well, there is always room for critique in my view. So, what could be improved here? Well, as usual you can see some laziness shining through, particularly when it comes to my shirt; I never wear white t-shirts, so it would have been much more realistic to make that one navy or black. And, I was able to fix it in this drawing, but I need to work on my pupil positioning. In early versions of this sketch, my oldest had some major googly eyes happening. Pupil positioning can be really challenging, especially when you’re trying to make a subject look at something specific.

On this sketch, and in its companion drawing, I actually remembered to take more progression photos. So, this one has a few more frames than usual, which might help see how it developed. Here’s the progression:

Amdall Gallery Dad and Girls Progress

What’s next for me? I’ve still got the art itch, so I’d imagine I’ll need to come up with something by the weekend. I could always do more family stuff…my dad would be a new subject. I’d really like to try something a bit different, though. No, it will still be people! But maybe some fictional people, or people I don’t know. I should brainstorm on things I love, more characters from novels or movies that are my favorites. Or musicians, actors, other noteworthy famous people.

Another thought; there are actually a couple of online forums that have threads for portrait/drawing requests, which is sort of enticing (ResetERA and NeoGAF). Of course, that’s risky because you never know if you’ll get destroyed by criticism; the anonymity of certain portions of the internet can make people a bit rough. And you never know; maybe I’ll get a request or something.


  • This is freaking gorgeous. It feels like such a moment caught, and I find myself waiting for everyone to move! So expressive.

    I actually like that you left the shirt white. My eyes are so drawn to the faces here, and the white helps with that in that it just fades into the background. It’s not an important detail to the story of this moment.

    Just wow. I’m eager to get to my drawing desk now!

    • Thank you! This one is actually one of my favorites. I’ve got a few recently that I think might be an improvement from a technical standpoint, but I can’t help but love the scene here. I guess I’m a little biased towards the two little subjects!

  • Pingback: Messing Up a Guardians of the Galaxy Drawing | Amdall Gallery

  • Hi Jon! Thank you for visiting my site. I just love your “Dad and the girls”! I’m also a Star Trek fan, so I really enjoyed Captain Picard. I’ve tried to find where Amdall Gallery is located, but I can’t find the country or city listed anywhere? I presume you are in the USA and I read your acesters are fromNorway, that’s where I live.
    Keep on drawing… Sincerely Eva Newermann

    • Hi Eva, sure thing! I really like your paintings. Is the art used on your book covers also done by you?

      I’ve always wanted to visit Norway, hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to go. It seems like a really cool place to live. Where would you recommend a first time visitor travel to?

      • Hi! Yes, all the paintings are done by me. One of my favorite is the astronaut,Bruce McCandless who in 1984 did the first spacewalk( EVA) with a MMU on his back.He just died recently. I found this image on the NASA webside. Just mindblowing! I would recommend the westcoast of Norway. If you see Tom Cruise larest Mission movie he is climbing up a mountain called the Pulpit ( more info on utube) There you will see the beautiful fjords. To walk to the Pulpit takes about 2 hrs ,it has been made an easy path by Sheapers from Tibet who has built steps stone by stone. If you bring your family this will be something they will rememger for ever.

      • That’s great, I really like the outer space theme; it makes for interesting subject matter. And Norway seems like a beautiful place. I would guess the summer is the best time though, right? Especially if we’re not used to real snow.

        Also, RE: your follow up comment – not to worry! Your comments are coming through just fine through the WordPress Viewer and the main website. Sometimes it takes a few minutes though, that might be why you weren’t seeing it immediately.

  • Wow! Comparing this with some of your earlier work you’ve made some serious improvement. I think you were already good at capturing the likenesses of people but the much improved blending really makes a difference.

    • I appreciate you saying that! I wasn’t really sure if practice would make much of a difference, but I really think it has. I’m still fairly slopping at drawing, but the colored pencils have gotten easier to use.

  • Nice work, Jon! Those skin tones are coming along amazingly! Or actually I think it is the combination of tones and graduated blending…there is a really strong sense of convincing rounded masses, now, on all your figures! Yes, I do think you have to be very aware of the centrality of the pupils – if the eyes are even a fraction off it distracts from the whole figure – the pupil MUST be central to the iris, always!! Sometimes it helps to pencil in the complete circle of the iris and put the pupil in that,dead center and erase the parts that belong under the lids….get it in the right place, in pencil, and then add the colour (don’t do someone’s portrait with their eyes even a little squiffy, they’ll probably be really upset about it!! – even though they might not be able to put their finger on what’s bothering them! πŸ˜‰ )

    • Very cool, Hilda! That’s exactly what I’d hoped, adding a sense of shape that wasn’t quite there before. Those little touches sometimes have such a powerful effect, don’t they?

      That’s a really good pointer (semi-accidental pencil pun) on iris placement. And you’re definitely right about getting it exactly in the correct spot. I’ve had a couple of sketches where it’s even slightly off, and it bothers me to no end! I’ve even had to go back multiple times, and then eventually just let it go, for fear of destroying the paper from erasing too much. And if it bothers ME that much, I can imagine it would drive the subject crazy.

      • I have only done portraits for family members (as gifts, based mainly on my own photographic references) so I can’t comment on any experience with commissioned portraits via an internet source and a stranger…. I will be interested to hear about your own experiences though πŸ™‚

      • Ha ha, well we’ll see if I actually step up to that challenge or not. I will definitely write about it though, if I do!

  • Looking good! I think what you do with the white in the skin tones is working really well. And honestly, I like the look of the “laziness.” I think it looks unique and gives a little bit of an illustration style, while the rest of the piece still looks super realistic. I know what you mean about the pupils–I have always had so much trouble getting eyes to look at something specific (for me usually in animal drawings). I think you’d do great at portrait commissions, and yeah getting criticized sucks, but sometimes you can take it with a grain of salt and other times it’s actually useful. Enter at your own risk πŸ˜‰

    • I think I need to be careful not to overdo it with the whitening; I want to simulate light, but I don’t want to make their faces too shiny. The one I did a few posts ago went a bit too far, and one of the guys almost looks like his face is made of peach-colored metal! But I do like the effect, I think it’s adding a nice touch to these recent ones.

      Also, thank you for saying portrait commissions would be in the realm of possibilities – that would be pretty fun! Really though, at this point I’d probably do some portraits for free rather than expecting a commission. I think it’d be great practice, and I feel like I’m always short of ideas.

  • You really nailed the complexions and the light refracting off the foreheads in this one. Children are hard to draw because they have muted features, so good stuff!

    For what it’s worth:

    From my perspective, your drawings are mechanically well done. Group scenes are hard and a lot of things can go wrong. Sure there is a sketchy sort of quality (lines in the hair or random things) but that’s not really a bad thing, more of a style. You’re also good at likenesses (I can’t draw people, I have a way of making them look pretty or more attractive then they are because of the way I learned to draw) which is a valuable skill.

    In terms of submitting to various sites, you’re right. I don’t really share much of what I do in many places aside from my portfolio and a few pieces on my blog. I have a couple things on deviant art, but I don’t have time or the ability to keep up with the social aspects of that platform. For me, an introvert who stutters around people she isn’t comfortable with, it’s nerve wracking.

    I think a good place to start, and where I kinda started, is to just approach places like dick blik (they regularly shuffle around artist submissions in their shops) or coffee shops and see if they would be willing to sell anything or even just hang it. Less stressful than cold-calling, would be to simply submit things for various galleries in you area. They tend to draw a different sort of crowd, one that’s a little better for critiquing and figuring out how to improve. And I believe a lot of galleries or events would take a lot of the stuff you’ve been posting. I can’t say for sure and it’s subjective to theme and event or the gallery in general, but I’ve seen things in galleries a lot less advanced than your sketches and portraits.

    When you do get featured in a gallery, a funny trick it to pretend you aren’t an artist and are just there to look. Stand around your stuff and you’ll get pretty honest opinions.

    • I appreciate that! Kids are definitely a challenge sometimes. I’ve only ever drawn my kids, which I think is probably the easiest child to draw since I’m so familiar with their defining features. Without that, I have a feeling it would be a struggle to capture traits that make them recognizable

      I have to say though, I beg to differ when you say you can’t draw people. The art featuring people I’ve seen on your site is extremely detailed and life-like. Just my opinion, but you’ve made some very fantastical and abstract backgrounds/scenes feature people that somehow seem quite realistic. That being said, I consider it a big compliment when someone with skills like yours says my drawings are mechanically sound. I don’t always think that, so it’s really appreciated to hear in your comment!

      As for forum sharing, I think I’m a bit reluctant because early on when I started drawing again (around August-Sept last year), I posted something to some sub-Reddit for feedback. They absolutely tore it to pieces! To be fair, I did ask for feedback…but they were merciless, and it was so brutal I actually deleted the thread. Ha ha, I’m still not sure if I’m ready for a lion’s den like that, even though the idea of an entire thread full of people requesting portraits is sort of enticing.

      I like that idea about pretending you aren’t an artist at your own gallery. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people do that!

      • Well I can draw people…just not real people, if that makes sense? Like I’ve tried drawing friends and family and then it ends up looking like I gave them a makeover lol. My sister does the family portraits, needless to say XD
        Thank you though πŸ™‚

        I’m better at shading and processing images than necessarily creating contour and having good proportions. I focus a lot on texture and lighting which is equally important to the contour and line-work. That’s why I do a lot of portraits or closeups where I can focus on smaller details.

        But I totally understand. That was honestly brave (or one of the many variants of brave πŸ˜› ) of you to submit to a sub-Reddit, those fellers are especially vicious. I have trouble even putting things on the blog. The more I like a piece the harder it becomes to share, it seems. Don’t know why.

      • I think that’s pretty natural though. If you’re really invested in something you’ve made (through time, energy, or you just really like it), that’s pretty normal to be more reluctant to share it. Some critiques are tough to take, but a few have really made me laugh. I remember one of these Reddit guys who was especially bombastic said something along the lines of, “you need to learn that lines are an illusion, and until you can draw without lines, you will be an amateur.” I mean, I AM an amateur…but, am I sketching stuff, or are we training to be the Dalai Lama?!

  • Wonderful πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply