Our third project in the drawing unit was creating portraits of ourselves. There were two different techniques that we tried out this time: the grid technique and the observation with mirror technique. The skills we learned included shading, close observation, drawing face proportions, rendering, and using basic photoshop tools. The first drawing required us to break away from what we thought facial features looked like through "zoomed in" grid techniques, while the second drawing called for more intense observation.
Self Portrait I
The materials used for this piece were as follows: 6B pencil, printed black-and-white posterized photograph of self, triangle eraser, ruler, square view blocker, and a piece of drawing paper.
When most people draw themselves or other people, we tend to "make up" things on the paper that aren't actually on the person. The picture or person in front of us may reveal that their nose looks a certain way, but since we already have a fixed image of what a nose looks like in our heads, we tend to go off of that instead of using observation to create a more accurate drawing. That is why this first technique seeks to avoid inaccurate "creating" through abstract shading, gridding, and covering.
First off, Mr. Laurence took portrait pictures of us. After he had uploaded the pictures, we were to open them in photoshop and begin basic editing. The first step was to crop the photo so that our faces pretty much filled up the entire photograph. This was followed by using the "posterize" feature (I scrolled mine to around 10, which is very close to being completely posterized) to bring out the contrast of the light and dark values of my face. We then saved it as a PDF file and put it into Google Drive for Mr. Laurence to print.
Now that we had a cropped, posterized, and printed picture of ourselves, we could then begin using the grid technique. Using a ruler, we drew an outline of the picture and then make increments at each inch across the border, making sure to also draw a small increment in the middle of the picture also. Then, we connected the increments to make 1 inch by 1 inch squares that became our picture grid. We then numbered the rows 1 through 8 and the columns A to F, totalling to 48 grid cubes. On a piece of drawing paper, the same process was repeated, except this time, we had to measure out the same height and width of the photo onto the paper before drawing the grids.
Using the square view blocker, I would choose a square on my photo and bring it to the corresponding square on my drawing paper. By covering up everything else except for that one square, I was forced to only look at that one area and copy what I saw onto my drawing square. Close up, the square on my face just looked like a jumble of abstract shapes in different shades, so it helped my brain break away from that image of what I think certain facial features looked like.
To copy whatever I saw, I first drew light outlines of the abstract shapes into my own square. Then, I determined which shape was the darkest and lightest, and then shaded them in accordingly. After one square was finished, I would move on to another one. This next square didn't necessarily have to be next to the previous one, as it shouldn't matter in the end. For me, I started out in the center of my face by my nose. I knew that I wanted to get the more difficult squares done first so that the rest (which was just my hair and shoulders) would be easier to complete.
Once squares that were next to each other had been completed, I would remove the view blocker and correct any lines or shades between them that didn't match with each other (I would also have my photo nearby to compare). This was done so that my final product wouldn't look too much like a bunch of grids drawn individually, but like a cohesive drawing that looked pleasant from afar.
When all of my grids were drawn and shaded in, I then repeated the same process of removing the view blocker and smoothing lines together, using my actual photo as a reference. Then, Mr. Laurence told me that the lines on my face were too harsh, so I used my triangle eraser to soften the edges of the abstract shapes and make my face look more natural.
Some challenges that I faced during this project was the shading and drawing my eyebrows. When you have a view blocker on so that your focus is only on one square at a time, it's difficult to create the same shading in a spot that spans several squares. In one square, you might color that one patch darker, and in the other, a little bit lighter. This might be the case even if, once the view blocker is removed, they are supposed to be the same shade part of the same abstract shape. I eventually solved this by comparing the shades to each other without the view blocker, then adjusting them to match through erasing and more shading.
The second challenge was drawing my eyebrows. Unlike the rest of my face, my eyebrows weren't blobs of abstract shades. Instead, you could see in the photograph that they were little individual hairs that blended and grew in a unified direction. I found it difficult to recreate this effect, especially since my pencil was a 6B pencil (in hindsight, I really should have used a harder pencil) with softer lead. Eventually however, I was able to achieve this by marking the general outline of my eyebrows when I used the view blocker, and then filling in the hairs without the view blocker later on. It took a while, but my final product looked pretty much like me.
Self Portrait II
The materials used for this piece were as follows: 2B pencil, small mirror, triangle eraser, and a piece of drawing paper.
Human faces are a fascinated subject. We see them every single day, so they don't seem all that remarkable. But once you look into our facial proportions, you'll discover that our faces are a marvellous example of natural symmetry. There's a reason why a professional artist's depictions of human faces appear so much more realistic than an amateur's version; a professional artist pays close attention to facial proportions and includes their observations into their drawings, while amateurs do not.
That is why the first thing that Mr. Laurence had us do in this second self portrait was to make observations of our own faces. First, we quickly sketched an oval that would be our head onto our paper. Then, in the mirror, we took our pencil from the top of our head to our eyes and then measured (with a finger to mark our placement on the pencil) the distance from our eye line to the bottom of chin. Surprisingly, this distance was the same! This meant that our eyes were pretty much exactly in the middle of our heads. This might not seem the case, but this is because most of our heads are covered with hair, so it creates an illusion that our eyes are higher up in our faces. On our drawn ovals, we sketched a halfway line to draw our eyes on later.
Then, we took our pencil again and measured the distance between our ears and the outer edge of our eyes, the outer edge to the inner edge of our eyes, and the distance between our eyes. Once again, we were all pretty surprised to discover that all of these distances were the same, meaning that we could technically fit five eyes in a row on our faces! In response to this observation, we then divided that line we drew in the middle of our ovals into five equal parts, then took the first and fourth ones and boxed them to show that the eyes would go there.
A similar process was followed to determine the different positions and proportions of the rest of our facial features. However, as Mr. Laurence also said, not everyone's facial proportions would be the same, and I especially noticed this with my mouth. Usually, a person's mouth starts and ends in line with the middle of our pupils when looking directly forward, however mine was smaller than that. Instead, my mouth began and ended in line with the inner edge of my iris. In addition, mouths were usually located at the halfway point between the chin and bottom of nose, but mine was a bit higher than that, leaving more room for my chin. I made adjustments to my drawing based on these observations so that I would stay true to what I really looked like.
Unlike the grid technique drawing, this project really relied on basic artistic skill and real-life observation. It was so much more difficult because of this, and in the end, it didn't even look as much like me as my grid drawing. My first attempt didn't work out so well, so I actually took the materials home and completed it in my own time. One thing that I really noticed was that this drawing was so much more time consuming. I kept on having to erase and redraw and erase and reposition my facial features. Using the grid technique, I kind of ran away from the issue of using my presumed mental images of facial features using the square view blocker. But with this drawing, I really had to internally battle with that side of my brain that screamed, "No silly, your eyes are supposed to look like this."
Even more disheartening was how, if I focused too much on one part of my face, I would look up to realize that it was out of proportion and had to readjust or entirely erase it. Without a doubt, drawing my mouth and lips were the most difficult of all. Perhaps this was because of my not so usual mouth proportions, or maybe it was because I was so tempted to just draw a line (when I doodle in my own time, I usually "chicken out" on the mouth by doing just that). This truly was my most gruelling project in Art Foundations yet, and whatever the reason for my difficulty was, I am glad that I pushed past that to achieve a drawing that I can at least say I'm proud of.