Full Portrait Walkthrough YouTube Video
In a couple of ways, I consider this post to be somewhat of a do-over. Months ago, I shared a YouTube video on my relatively new channel covering some details on outline sketches and measurement. Although I was happy with the discussion portion, I was not very satisfied with the artwork that resulted. I wanted to make another outline/pre-drawing video with hopefully a better final product, which drove this one forward initially. Later, I also decided this might serve another role as front page website material. I had another post announcing this YouTube channel back in May, but since then I’ve improved a bit in terms of video quality. I still have a ways to go to figure out lighting and other editing aspects, but I figured I could stick this on the front page to provide a slightly improved version of that announcement. So, essentially a double-do-over!
In the majority of drawing videos I share, I tend to skip most of the outline sketching. One of the primary reasons is simply how my blind-as-a-bat self wants to be as close as humanly possible to the paper. It’s somewhat true for most of the process, but the urge is much stronger during the outline. It makes it really difficult to take video when my big old head is right in the way. So, for my own drawing ease, I tend to just do that part prior to setting up video, then jump to the color portion where I can more comfortably lean back a bit. Another less significant reason is that, on a hierarchy of important portrait elements, I don’t think the outline is anywhere near the top. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it isn’t valuable. If it wasn’t, then I wouldn’t even do one! It’s of course useful to have a guide for shapes, locations, and how the person is supposed to look. But I find that most of the more satisfying visual results come during the color layering and blending, as well as from finer detailing towards the end. I think if I were talented or experienced enough, I might not do much of an outline at all.
Anyhow, that might have been veering into the weeds. I wanted to show more of how I sketch the outline, including some measuring. When I first got back into drawing a couple of years ago, I started getting comfortable by measuring grids to better capture proportions. Eventually, I moved away from the full on grid drawing, but I still think it’s useful to do some measuring and page marking to get my bearings. You can see this in action in the video, but essentially I measure distances between major facial landmarks, like between the top of the head and eyes, head to nose, head to mouth, and so on. Mark those locations, then use them as the boundaries for the sketch! I think artists with stronger skillsets and training don’t need to lean on such things, but I do need the crutch, especially with less-than-straightforward poses or angles.
As usual, I will start by sharing the final result below, then discuss the drawing itself, and end with the progression video. Here’s the final portrait:
Although the final result is certainly better than the previous video I sought to replace, it’s not perfect. One of the first major issues is that it doesn’t look exactly like the original. You can see the reference photo in the video (original photograph credit to Hosein Shirvani (@seeplus) via Unsplash); there is a passing resemblance, but it’s not a great reproduction of facial features. Another significant miss was the lighting situation. One of the reasons I selected this photo was the unique lighting. There’s some dynamic contrast and an interesting blue light that would have been a challenge. Instead though, I ended up just waving the white flag and not even trying it. I opted for some basic, more standard lighting that was sort of a disappointing give-up on my part.
Outside of broad things, there are also two errors or mistakes I see immediately now when looking at this. One is that by the subject’s eyebrow, I did an absolutely terrible job blending. I’ve got more blush pink or peach at a certain level, and then below on the nose I neglected to blend it really at all. I can’t unsee it! Also, despite using my measurement techniques, somehow I slightly tilted her mouth. It’s very close, and after staring it almost seems correct. But on the first glance, the left side (from the viewers perspective) seems to drift downward more than it should. I’m not sure that these are huge things in the grand scheme of things, but I do notice them every time I look at it.
Otherwise though, I am relatively satisfied with how this turned out. As I already mentioned, I think it’s a better final result than the other “outline video” drawing, and the video quality is improved too. It’s a solid one overall, but not one I would rank as a personal favorite. Here is the embedded video:
I am not sure if I’ll end up trying to do another outline/measuring/sketch video. I probably will because first, I’m still learning more about video and editing, but also because it’s just nice to have more available to choose from. I know that some folks do like to see the sketch portion of the process, and I want to provide content that helps people if I can. Also, from what I’ve seen of other YouTube artists, many include the entire lifecycle of their artwork. Lately I’ve been watching quite a few from Watercolor by Shibasaki and he seems to always include the initial sketch. On the flip side, one of my favorite colored pencil artists Luisina Juliete (I learned to blend from her videos) does not usually include them. I think I’ll split the difference and try to do both! Although I admit I will still probably most often skip that part.
That’s all for this one, thanks for reading if you made it this far. I think the next post will be an attempt at working on one of my biggest weaknesses – scenery and backgrounds! Also, I haven’t been very consistent about this, but I’ll pop some links below to pencils and other drawing supplies I used for this one.