Michael Britton

Portrait Drawing Lessons - Learn to draw portraits

Portrait Drawing Lessons:
Correcting Your Sanguine
Conte Drawing
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Portrait drawing lessons - Correcting sanguine conte 5

My usual approach is to stump down the dark pattern with my fingers until I achieve a flat, even semi-luminous tone. But for this drawing, as I mentioned previously, I want a rougher effect. Using a #8 bright bristle brush I literally painted down the dark forms in exactly the same way that I would scrumble in the darks with oil paint.

For those of you who are new to painting this is an excellent practice for handling the brush without the added concerns of pigment and medium (i.e., turpentine and linseed oil). Be sure to hold your brush far back at the handle – rarely should you paint gripping the ferrule of your brush.

The entire head (I will be using the term ‘head’ to refer to my entire subject – head and costume) is painted down with the #8 bright bristle brush. I roughly indicate the facial features, headdress (which is called a Roach and is traditionally made from porcupine quills) and the breast-plate which is traditionally made from bone hairpipe.

At this early chapter I decided to extend the background further left so that it would visually support the back of the head. It is at this very early stage that my composition is set.

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Portrait drawing lessons - Correcting sanguine conte 7

The lights are loosely painted out with a kneaded eraser. I am feeling my way here relating the shapes and placements of my lights to the darks as I decide upon what would be the best approach to take with this drawing.

Although I am working with just the ghost of this drawing I still need to concern myself with the accurate placement of the browline, base of the nose, condyle (the point where the jaw meets the ear-lobe: the actual hinge is called the Temporomandibular Articulation) and facial angle.

With a freshly sharpened conté crayon it is time to work-up the ghost. Since the body of the nose is the largest feature we begin there. I lightly sketch in the alar and nair of the body of the nose. It does, however, take training and experience to accurately gauge the exact size and placement of the body of the nose – from the nose the inner canthus’ (the inner corners) of the eyes are determined by plumbing upwards from the body of the nose and are indicated with pinpricks.

The nodes of the mouth are subsequently determined by plumbing down from the eyes and also by feeling out the nasolabial furrows (smile lines). A plumb-bob (as pictured here) is a very useful tool for determining vertical alignments.

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