I just can't seem to get the hang of portraits [Archive] - Artist Forum

: I just can't seem to get the hang of portraits

05-02-2016, 02:57 PM
This is supposed to be Adele, I just never seem to get them to look like the person, but I can never figure out what's wrong with the pic.

05-02-2016, 02:59 PM
are you heavy handed when it comes to the sketch or light with it?

Susan Mulno
05-02-2016, 03:01 PM
Welcome to the club! If you need an example just look at my profile pic! :biggrin:

05-02-2016, 03:08 PM
The first thing you need to know about portraits is why it doesn't look like the person.

05-02-2016, 03:09 PM
Meli I like to think light handed, susan I have no idea what you look like so I think that is really good, it looks exactly like a woman's head to me.

05-02-2016, 03:11 PM
That is exactly the problem I have just I can never work out what went wrong.

05-03-2016, 04:49 AM
Well, for one, her face looks very long, when in reality her face is lot broader. I think getting the facial structure right before adding shadow would work well.
I get the feeling you draw purely what you see, without fully understanding how the face works and why you see what you see. I can be wrong here of course, this is just my first impression.
In the last few months I myself have been trying to learn the Loomis method of setting up a portrait, and I must say that really helped me. See, at first it seems overly technical, but once it becomes second nature it's an easy way of making sure the proportions are realistic, because once you know how to quickly set up a proper basis, you can't really go all that wrong with the details, because the parts of the face are already where they should be.
Stan Prokopenko explains it well:

Now, I can't guarantee you'll find it a pleasant technique to work with of course, as everyone has their own workflow, but I think it's worth a shot. Another thing I'd recommend is; draw a ****-ton of heads. Like, not a portrait every now and again, but fill a whole bunch of pages with them. All sorts of people, too. Young, old, fat, skinny... Try to find pictures that aren't retouched in Photoshop all that much so that you can observe the face in as natural a state as possible.
I personally often use mugshots. Not very orthodox, but mugshots are the most raw you'll ever see most people. The light is unflattering, the emotion is real and there's not effort put in to make it look pretty. And that's why I think they're good reference material.
Humanae is a blog that aims to photograph every human skincolor there is and the artist behind is does not photoshop much, so that is also a very good resource.
But the bottom line is just really; keep drawing. You don't have to work out every one to the same extend. If it doesn't work out; whatever, try again.

Another thing I'd recommend is studying the facial anatomy. What influence does the shape of the skull have on the shape of the head? Which muscles are responsible for what? Where do you find the most fat tissue? etc. Really trying to understand how everything works has really helped me improve my portraits, wether they were drawn from a photo or from memory. Once you are very familiar with how the human anatomy works reference becomes a loose guideline instead of something to follow super closely.

Here's some reference that might be helpful that I've found all over the internet:

Hope this helps.

05-03-2016, 06:20 AM
Thank you so very much for the kind effort you obviously put into your reply, I will try what you have said. Once again thank you so much.

05-03-2016, 06:46 AM
No problem! Good luck and please keep us posted ^^

05-03-2016, 08:08 AM
SuddenLife fantastic response:Norton:

05-03-2016, 10:07 AM
I will try this as well, because I haven't ever gotten the hang of portraits either. I never can get the eyes right. I also just try to draw what I see, but am now teaching myself to measure things out.
I think doing mandalas all the time has helped, because it has given me so much practice with a protractor, ruler, and compass.

Thanks @Suddenlink, you're tha bomb!! :laugh:

05-03-2016, 03:36 PM
If you look at the video there is one by Steve Hudson at the end, it is 3 hrs long but soooooooooooo great and well worth checking, I learnt so much, thanks a million sudden life.

05-04-2016, 01:19 PM
Hi all well using tips I learnt from Steve Hudson here is my second attempt, although the proportions are now correct it still doesn't look anything like Adele but whoever she is I think she's quite beautiful.

Susan Mulno
05-04-2016, 01:54 PM
Much improved. You and I are about the same level portrait wise, we just need to practice, practice, practice! I have been bereft at this lately, you inspire me to give it another go! :biggrin:

05-04-2016, 03:19 PM
Hi all my attempt at kelly Clarkson

Susan Mulno
05-04-2016, 03:46 PM
Each one is improved over the last!

05-04-2016, 04:11 PM
Definitely better, yeah. The proportions certainly look a lot more natural. As Susan said; endless practice.
Practicing setting up the face in basic planes could be an interesting exercise for you as well. It's quite challenging, but it does help you understand the face as something threedimensional and can also help you when working on lighting and shading.

05-05-2016, 03:28 PM
Hi all my next attempt, this is me and my missus at last new years eve party with our best friends, it was 1920s themed evening. I'm quite pleased how mine turned out but not got my missus right.

05-05-2016, 04:59 PM
Yours looks pretty spot on, indeed. The chin could be a tad more pointy, as it's a bit too broad now I think, but other than that it looks good. In the picture however, your wife has a pretty big smile, while in the drawing it's smaller, like you could have given the lower part of the face a little more space. It looks like her head is kind of tilted down a tiny bit, while that isn't the case in the picture.
Those are minor issues, though, it's still a very nice drawing.

Very lovely picture as well, by the way.