June Portrait Giveaway, the Resulting Artwork


At the end of last month, we wrapped up a custom portrait giveaway with some pretty solid participation. The winner sent me a photo she liked, which seemed to be a good candidate for a portrait scene. I started the outlines of the sketch as I normally do, but ended up having to travel for work for a bit. In my normal routine, I probably would have wrapped this portrait up the weekend after the contest ended. As I couldn’t really do much without my full set up and supplies, this took a bit longer than I thought it would.

As I mentioned, the basic outline started a few weeks ago after the contest ended. At one point in my travels, I was staying in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I brought a small selection of pencils and the sketch outline with me, so I did some of the base layers right in the neighborhood of some of my favorite food in the world. I’m not sure if it helped with inspiration, but it did insure that I never drew anything while hungry! After returning home, I finished this up and added the remaining detail. This portrait is fairly well-traveled at this point!

Here’s how it turned out:


The original image also had the winner’s in-laws popping their heads into frame, partially obscuring her and her husband’s faces. I think she was hoping to have all four individuals in the drawing, but I decided that it didn’t really work for this one. I focused specifically on her and her husband, filling in the details where they were being blocked.

This drawing actually presented some unique challenges I had not considered. Everything else that I’ve drawn has involved subjects I am familiar with, or I at least have access to lots of images of them. For example, I know exactly how my family should look. And actors, musicians, or other famous people are very identifiable because of the media they’ve appeared in that’s as close as a simple Google search. But, the winner is someone who I don’t know, and have only ever seen one image of. So, I can only judge if the drawing is accurate based on pretty narrow perspective.

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I think as artwork in a vacuum, it’s a solid piece. The real test though was how the winner received it. I sent her a copy via email this evening…she responded, and seemed to like it! I got her eye color wrong; they are actually blue, but I struggle a bit distinguishing blues and greens sometimes. But she said she wanted to hang it up in her house, which is very cool. This is my first time drawing something for a stranger, and I have to admit I’m glad it’s something she feels positively about. I’m going to make a couple of small changes, but overall this worked out.

As usual, I also included a progression .gif. This one is probably a bit more uneven than others I’ve done, because the photos were taken in different locations with varied lighting.

Amdall art giveaway1 progression

I definitely want to do more of these portrait giveaways. I’ve gotten solid interest from people who’ve entered, so I’d like to keep throwing that opportunity out there. And, as I’ve mentioned many times, this is a great source of practice and subject ideas. I am really glad (and a bit relieved) that the winner liked how it turned out. That’s certainly nice positive reinforcement to keep doing these giveaways!


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  • Good work Jon, it is tricky doing portraits of people you’re not familiar with.

    I’m part way through a project to do 100 portraits (allegedly in 100 days) and finding it easier doing the celebrities. Oddly, even when getting it wrong they still look kinda right, in fact I don’t think I’ve got any totally right yet (subjective I know) but they seem to be well received.

    However, I’m also painting one of my parents and it’s been hidden away for months now. Not sure why but I think the extra pressure of getting it right on people I’m very familiar with is having the reverse effect of being able to paint from a crappy little photo. Boosting faces from 1cm faded 80’s photo to about 20-25 times the size 🙁

    Whilst I have done a few commissions none have been for portraits, I think it’s something that could be extremely tricky in many ways – the drawing/painting process being the least of them.

    • Much appreciated, Steve! I have to agree with you about celebrities, it definitely feels easier to draw faces that are familiar. As long as you get the most defining characteristics down, people can usually pick up on it.

      Man, whenever I put pressure on myself for a portrait, the entire thing usually falls apart. I’ve learned I am at my best when I keep things as loose as possible. That’s definitely an added challenge. Plus this 100 portraits in (roughly) 100 days challenge, you are basically in artwork bootcamp! Are the 100 portraits all the most recent posts on your site? Or are there more you haven’t shared yet? I love that Edward Scissorhands, by the way – they’re all good, but that one is very cool

      • Thanks Jon, yeah they’re pretty much all the most recent posts.

        That Edward I wasn’t overly happy with but the Sheeran version I thought came out OK. You’re right, it is a bit of a bootcamp but I’m never going to make the 100 days so I’ve accepted that.

      • Oh yes, I had to take another look at the Sheeran. That one turned out really well!

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