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Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:16 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 1
There’s been a photo of my granddaughter in my files for more than a year now that I thought would make a great portrait study. Savannah is three now and wasn’t quite two at the time I took the photo. It was Easter and she and her sister and cousin were busy hunting for eggs that had been hidden about the yard. I was busy following them around, snapping pictures of them for posterity (and hoping to get a good shot that might turn into a nice painting). At one point I was trailing after Savannah as she walked around to the back of the house. She suddenly stood still and became quiet, seemingly in her own world. As she turned her head to look around, she saw me, her mouth curling ever so slightly into a barely perceptible smile. I snapped the picture. When I looked at it later I knew it make a nice portrait one day.
Well, that day has arrived. I want to do the portrait while Savannah is still young, before her features change too much. I have thought about doing it in color, which looks great, and which is the way I normally do portraits, but I also have a soft spot for graphite renderings. They have a simplicity about them that is very appealing. Pure tones in gray. No distracting color to get in the way. So, I’m going to do the portrait in graphite.
One of the drawbacks to graphite is the sheen nature of the medium when attempting to get darker tones. Lighter tones achieved with the harder pencils seem to turn out pretty good, but the darker B tones, when layered heavily to get really dark darks reflect light and, unless viewed from the side, become distracting – and annoying. Some artists avoid graphite altogether, instead choosing charcoal or carbon pencils. Using a combination of graphite and carbon pencils seems to be the best of both worlds. The harder pencils, 2H through 6H are capable of producing a wide range of soft skin tones, while the carbon pencils help achieve very dark tones such as shadows, dark hair and eyes. Highlights, especially on off white and toned paper, are produced with white charcoal and white pastel.
I’ve seen some very remarkable graphite portraits done with a combination of pencils ranging from 4H to 4B with little or no sheen produced by Darrel Tank, who has an excellent website called fivepencilmethod.com. Darrel believes that the ugly sheen attendant to very dark graphite is mostly due to mashing down the tooth on textured paper with a heavy layer of graphite so it can no longer scatter light. He feels that building up layers of graphite with a light touch will preserve the tooth, scatter light and avoid sheen.
Another fine graphite portrait artist who I admire is David Jamieson. He runs the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio (vitruvianstudio.com). David uses a range of hard pencils from 2H to 8H for fine skin tones and then 7B and 8B for darker tones such as hair and eyes and backgrounds. David avoids the graphite sheen by avoiding the darker graphite. The 7B and 8B pencils he uses are made by Staedtler and, most likely, are carbon pencils.
Choice of paper is an important consideration also. We have a few choices in texture – rough, cold pressed, hot pressed, smooth. And there are many good brands. The most important consideration is longevity. The paper, whatever texture, whatever brand, should be at least conservation grade, if not archival quality. But, what do these terms signify and why are they important? I never really gave it much thought, other than it is paper that will last a long time. But what does that really mean? I did a little research on the subject just to increase my knowledge and understanding. Maybe you already know all about this subject and this is old stuff for you. In that case, forgive me. But, if this is new and you’re learning something new here, we all benefit.
Art paper is made from either wood pulp or cotton pulp. Wood pulp contains lignin, an organic chemical that forms part of the cell walls of plants. When lignin decays it releases acids which can slowly destroy the paper, causing it to yellow and become brittle. Acid free, pH neutral paper can be made from wood pulp or cotton pulp. Conservation grade paper is made from wood pulp which has had the lignin removed. It is, therefore, acid free and buffered to be neutral. Archival paper (or Museum grade paper) is made from cotton pulp and contains no lignin. It, too, is acid free and pH neutral. I’m not sure that there is a big difference in longevity between Conservation grade paper and Archival paper. Anyway, a short search online didn’t reveal a big difference. However, if you are really concerned about longevity, choose the archival papers made from cotton rather than the conservation papers made from lignin free wood pulp. Remember, though, that Archival paper is more expensive. If anyone can enlighten me on why archival paper would be better, please do.
My next project is a pencil drawing of my granddaughter. I’ll be doing it on Strathmore 300 Bristol Vellum. I’ll be using a combination of pencils ranging from 4H to 4B, and possibly 7B or 8B carbon. There shouldn’t be too many installments to this project but it’s one I’d really like to do. I’ll post my first Update next week. Here’s the photo I’ll be doing the portrait from.
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Re: Savannah

Postby jenn_iam » Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:22 pm

Can't wait!!!
May your world be painted in the Brightest of colors!

Jennifer Erin
-Artist/Illustrator / Film/Media Designer & SFX MakeUp / Storyboard Artist
(All mediums; Conceptual Design, Costume Creation, to Application)
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Re: Savannah

Postby ehoeveler » Thu Dec 18, 2014 5:05 pm

What a lil' Darling! We'll be waiting...E
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:56 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 1
It’s a bit hard getting too much done at this time of the year, what with two new grandchildren on top of an already busy holiday season. And probably most of you are too busy right now to even read a Work in Progress Update.
But, I have gotten some work done on this portrait and I’d like to discuss the steps I’ve taken to get to this point. Doing a portrait requires attention to detail and a methodical approach. My method of choice until this portrait has been a very mechanical one, using the grid method to copy the portrait from a photo to gridded tracing paper, and then transferring that to the drawing paper. I wanted to do a portrait using a method involving more eye – brain – hand coordination, observation and knowledge of and feel for anatomical features. To me it’s a more satisfying way of creating a likeness. It sharpens the senses and develops an appreciation of anatomy. I also don’t have to worry about drawing the portrait twice and being able to transfer accurately.This way of creating a likeness is used by all artists who undertake portrait and figure drawing using sitting models. Their skill and the confidence it creates is to be admired.
My method, then, is not new, but incorporates many of the same techniques used by artists using live models. It involves measuring angles and triangulation, making use of dividers and a triangle as well as freehand measurements. The portrait likeness is developed like any landscape, by proceeding from the general to the specific. The figure is first roughly blocked in using simple straight lines to get the general shape of the head. All curves are eliminated. Once the figure is blocked in, the rough shape is refined by adding more reference points and corners. Next, the placement of the features are roughly indicated, again through triangulation and measurement. The shading can also be roughly mapped out at this point and filled in lightly.
After double checking angles and measurements of as many features as possible, and making adjustments, work begins on refining the features – the eyes, moth, nose and ears. After all the features are drawn in accurately, tonal work begins, modeling the figure and making it look three dimensional.
I made a couple of copies of the original photo of Savannah, one showing the pose I plan to create, another with the size of the head I will re- create (that can be used to take measurements off) and third with the head larger so details can be seen. I chose Strathmore 300 series Bristol Vellum for the portrait and will do all the blocking in with a light touch and an HB pencil so I can erase easily when necessary.
The first task was to lightly draw in the major axis from chin to the highest point on the head. From there, by using triangulation, I marked the furthest extents of the Savannah’s head both right and left. Again, using triangulation and the dividers, I built the shape of the head, adding more and more corners until I had the shape roughly drawn in.
Next I drew a light centerline from the center of the chin to the top center of the forehead, dividing the face into right and left halves. Using triangulation and dividers I roughly blocked in the inner and outer extent of the eyes, the nose, the mouth and ears. I also lightly indicated shadow placement for further landmarks.
Now that everything is roughed in and a fairly good likeness has been established, the next stage in developing Savannah’s portrait will be developing the features more accurately. The contrast on the drawing has been necessarily increased so you can see the image. The pencil sketch is really very light so construction lines, etc can be erased as the drawing progresses.

I’d like to wish all a great holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year, filled with all sorts of inspiration and creativity.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:36 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 2

This has been a very busy week and very little artwork. The holidays, new grandchildren, enjoyable visits from relatives – it’s all been wonderful. I also will be holding some classes on colored pencil drawing this spring at a local art gallery and planning for that has taken some of my time. I was also approached to do a fiftieth wedding anniversary portrait for a couple, so some preparation and discussions took place relative to that. That is a project which may be started in the near future and one I look forward to.
In the first update I blocked in the figure and roughly indicated the features. The next step was to check all the measurements for accuracy. After that, I started refining the features and worked toward more detail. I found I had to make some changes but wasn’t too far off. Most importantly, I made an effort to keep my lines light, so erasing, when necessary, could be accomplished easily. I don’t want them to show when I begin adding tone.
After establishing detail in the eyes, nose, mouth and ears and checking once again for accuracy, I added more detail to the clothing. I left the detail in the hair until later.
The last step in the block-in is indicating the light and shadow areas. I don’t want to add gradations or halftones to the figure but just establish the broad area of light and dark, using just two tones – and ignore gradations for now. The single value of the shadows is laid in just darker than the paper.
Now that the hectic pace of the holidays are receding I hope work will proceed at a faster pace. I’ll begin adding tone by “keying” the figure, that is, deciding how light or dark to make the portrait.
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Re: Savannah

Postby CarlOwen » Wed Dec 31, 2014 11:42 am

Charming, simply charming. I can almost envision the final portrait.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:17 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 3
Now that the block – in is complete, dimensions and distances seem right, some light shading has been applied, and I’ve started adding detail to the features, the next step is to “key” the drawing. Keying the drawing is developing a range of values. I want to have as broad a range of values as possible. The black and white photo will be the basis for developing the values and, to help me, I’m going to use a value finder to compare the photo to my drawing. The value finder contains ten values ranging from black to white. In the middle of each value a hole has been punched out enabling me to place the value over the area I want to check. As I progress through the drawing I’ll check the photo against the drawing to see how I’m doing.
Another aid to developing the correct values is to pick an area of the photo that has the greatest range. That way, as I begin shading I can check the surrounding features and their values against the area I’m working on to make sure they keep the proper balance relative to each other. In this drawing there are a wide range of values from very light to near black around the eyes, so I started there.
Savannah’s pupil and part of her iris are the darkest values of the facial features, so I carefully worked them in with a 7B Staedtler pencil. I also used the 7B to work the creases in the eyelids. Then I worked the remainder of the eye – the interior of the iris and the shadow area around the eye with a 2B pencil.
The lightest areas are on the left side of Savannah’s face, where the sunlight hits directly. These areas will be the white of the paper. Everything else will be some value in between.
Keeping in mind the anatomy of the face, the three dimensional structure of its parts, I started to model the face with tone, rather than just copying the lights and darks from the photo. I started with a sharp 2H pencil and very light pressure to stroke in the tones around the eyes and onto the right side of Savannah’s head. Once I completed all the sculpting, I compared the 2H tone of the surrounding areas with the eyes. I identified the areas that needed to be darker and went back over them with an HB pencil. Still comparing areas to one another, I identified areas that needed to be darker and started working in the 2B pencil.
In this manner I continued to alternate between pencils as I went darker and darker with the shaping and sculpting. Sometimes I would check an area with the value finder and find it needed to be darker and would darken the area some more. That required other areas to be darker in relation to it. This process of slowly deepening tone in the area surrounding the eyes will continue until I’m satisfied that the tones are right relative to one another. I even turn the light off overhead and observe the drawing in low light, comparing it to the photo. Sometimes areas that need work jump right out and I adjust them. Squinting works also by reducing the figure to lights and darks and eliminating details.
By next week I hope to have the area around the eyes complete and this area will help in modeling the rest of the face.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:18 am

Thanks, Carl, for your comments. I don't have a great deal of experience with graphite pencils but started using the Staedtler 7B and 8B pencils after viewing some discussions from Vitruvian Fine Art Studios and artist David Jamieson.anted to get away from the reflective problems of graphite, especially in the softer leads and Staedtler's 7B and 8B are supposed to have carbon in the mix. So, I'm giving them a try.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:34 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 4
The face is nearly complete now. During the past week I worked more on the lower part of the face – the nose, cheeks and chin. Little by little I added more tone. First, I added tone with the 2H pencil, expanding the area of 2H further and further as necessary. Then, I expanded the HB ones further. Finally, I added 2B as necessary to deepen all the tones. I shut the light off here and there and observed the features in low light, comparing the tones to the photo. Then added tone where I felt necessary. The photos here show the progression since last week. If I’m not finished with the face, I’m very close, as I don’t see much of a difference from the photo now – and I’m satisfied with the range of tone.
One small change I made from last week was to expand the size of Savannah’s right iris. I checked the size on the photo with dividers and determined it was a bit small on the drawing.
One thing I want to stress here is that I approach the increase in deeping tones very gradually. I continue to maintain very light pressure as I add more tone, trying to keep transitions gradual and continuous. Sometimes it’s hard to see as change in the tone but, as I continue, I begin to see that change, and I stop when I think I’ve added enough. I also deepen the tones by progressing through the range of pencils, from 2H to HB to 2B and up to 4B and 7B if necessary. I always try to work slowly up to where I want to be.
I’m intentionally leaving the sunlit portion of the face the white of the paper to increase the tonal range, contrast and, hopefully, the impact.
From here I think I’ll start on the hair. As I work that in I’ll keep checking the tones on the face to see if something jumps out, then make any changes necessary. I’ll also be able to compare the hair tones with the face and see that they are correct in relation to each other.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:31 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 5
I think I’m nearly finished with the face. But I’ve found over the past week that, as I’ve begun adding tone to the hair, that I notice some tonal areas of the face require some tweaking, so I’ve done a bit more here and there. I’ve added more tone to Savannah’s chin and left cheek. I’ve darkened her right temple and right cheek also. Looking at the face in low light has also turned up some spots that need some additional work. It helps considerably to walk away from the drawing for an hour or two, then come right up on it quickly. I then glance around at the face and look back and forth to the photo without looking at any detail but looking at an area in general. Things will pop out as needing work. Then I’ll sit down and tackle those areas. I’ll probably be doing that until it’s finished.
I introduced the 4H pencil for areas on the left side of the face and nose, the areas in sunlight. From the high contrast prints I made I could see that there is some tone, albeit very, very light, but there is some, and it seemed to add more dimension to the head.
I started working on the hair with 4H and 2H pencils, blocking in major forms, getting a feel for the shapes, shadows and highlights. One aspect of the portrait that’s given me some angst are the highlighted hairs running counter to the general trend of the underlying masses. They are very interesting and add something to the drawing but are a problem for me to add in. They are smooth, fine lines, curving over the top of darker, underlying hair that’s been gathered up to be tied into pig tails. I tried impressing the fine light hairs, then working in the darker tones, leaving fine white lines, but that didn’t really work. I didn’t like the reflectance left on the edge of the fine line. So, I covered them up. I finally decided that I would have to take the time to lightly draw them in and then carefully add tone around them. I also looked at a great many pencil portraits and don’t see too much in the way of fine highlighted hairs running counter to the general direction of the hair masses. But, in Savannah’s case there are many of them and they form an important part of the hair mass. So I’ve endeavored to include many – but not all of them. I want to give the impression they are there without having to add all of them in.
After blocking in the hair masses, I started back over with darker pencils, going from the 2H to the HB and then to the 2B in the darkest areas such as the tightly bunched group of hair above and below the hair clips. These are the areas where shadows intensify.
I’m working back and forth between pencils, working in details and delineating fine hairs. I’m creeping up on the darkest tone of the hair, comparing one area to another, seeing how they relate to one another. I’ll be doing that over the next week, when, I hope to have the hair completed.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:29 pm

Thank you. I appreciate the compliment. Practice, practice, practice, study, study, study. Try to work at every day.
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Re: Savannah

Postby ehoeveler » Wed Jan 21, 2015 6:36 pm

Richard, you are so generous with your (process) sharing - Thank You, again! Oh, do I need to tell you?
She's looking fabulous. E
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Re: Savannah

Postby Cristo » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:49 am

Great drawing!
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:28 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 6
I spent the last week working on the hair and have it nearly completed.
Even though the hair is lighter – very blond – it still has a tonal range. It goes from very light, even white, tones in areas which are directly hit by sunlight, to darker areas that are tucked up into the pigtails. The range of tones is similar to that of the face. If her hair had a darker local color (i.e., natural color), the range of tones would toward the darker end.
Also important when drawing the hair is to avoid drawing individual hairs. I’ve tried (not always successfully) to handle the development of the hair as masses or forms of hair and not individual hairs. The general hair mass, as it envelopes the head, can be thought of as composed of smaller masses, and those smaller masses composed of yet smaller masses – all the way down to individual hairs. But we don’t go down that far. Each one of the masses has a three dimensional form, a roundness, and that’s what we have to keep in mind as we add tone to it. The smaller forms of each of the pigtails go in different directions, and each of those forms seem to separate a bit from the larger form they are composed of, so the shadows must be indicated. Superimposed on these substructures are thin single hairs or, at most, a few hairs that were not drawn up into the pigtails. These latter hairs go in different directions and catch the sunlight. They’re indicated by whitish streaks.
In order to draw in the smooth curvature of the masses right, it is almost necessary to turn the picture sometimes so it’s easier to draw in the curve. The hair masses flow, and I’ve tried to indicate that, almost feel it as I run the pencil along the curve.
I also did some touch ups to the face as things popped out. They were small changes but necessary to the whole.
By next week I should have the clothing drawn in. I’m nearly finished.
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Re: Savannah

Postby Cristo » Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:45 pm

Your commentary is very helpful and your drawing is impeccable! Thank you so much for your step by steps.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:49 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 7
Well, I haven’t made as much progress on this during the past week as I’d hoped. The truth is, I’ve been building a new website and that’s been taking up a lot of my time. When completed, it’s going to be much better than the previous one. However, there is a considerable learning curve to it. Having said that, I am enjoying building it and I’ll post some information on how I built it once it’s completed. There is still much to do. I’ve also been working on a class outline for a colored pencil class I’m teaching, so that’s taking up some time.
As you can see in the latest update I’ve gotten much of the clothing in. I think I’m going to let the detail and values trail off toward the bottom so there is more emphasis on the head. Hopefully, I’ll have this done next week. I’m anxious to get on to my next painting.
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Re: Savannah

Postby Singular » Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:39 pm

Masterful!
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:17 pm

Thank you for the compliment. It is appreciated.
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Re: Savannah

Postby Frank Joseph » Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:56 am

Very beautiful work.
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Re: Savannah

Postby RichardDevine » Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:52 am

Work In Progress: Savannah, Update 8
This portrait is complete! The clothing has been completed. This past week I finished up the sleeve and the clothing behind Savannah’s arm, added a bit more tone to the upper portion of her dress and added more detail and tone to the lower half. I purposely left the lower part of the clothing in less detail and lower values to focus attention on the head. I added a bit more tone and detail here and there but finally decided what I was adding wasn’t adding much to the portrait. So, I’m calling this one finished.

Now, it’s on to my next painting. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the subject for the next one, and I’m fairly certain what it will be. So, by next week I’ll have decided and I’ll discuss beginning considerations.
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