Portrait WIP

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  06 June 2014
Portrait WIP

This is a portrait of a girl (referenced below). Facial expression is based on other references. I'm trying to retain the main features of the main referenced girl. Any suggestions?

Reference girl photo

EDIT: replaced WIP image correct revision

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 01:09 PM.
  06 June 2014
I darkened eyeliner and fixed some hair strands:
  06 June 2014
How accurate do you want to get, versus how much idealization? While it's common to flatter a subject in a portrait, it's a difficult balance to strike between likeness and aesthetic appeal.

If you want to be accurate, then you'll have to make the nose more like in the photo, instead of shrunken and sculpted like you did in the painting. You also need to thicken her eyebrows too, and make them look less like they're pasted on and more like they're actually made of hair (use a bristle/speckled brush). Her forehead needs to be higher as well.

The hair looks very stiff and unnatural. You need to make the hairline much more realistic, with some kind of handling of the roots so it's not just skin and then sudden solid blackness. Use bristled brushes and make the hairline more natural with bristle marks. The way the hair strands are rendered is also too artificial and lacking natural softness.

Take a look at this tutorial: https://www.google.com/search?q=lin...TF-8&gws_rd=ssl
  06 June 2014
Thanks for the constructive critique. I want the subject to look good, but still recognizable as the subject in the photo. I think the nose looks similar enough; Is it a bad idea to keep it as is for aesthetics? I haven't yet changed the way the hair is rendered, but I tried to fix the eyes, thickened the eye brows, raised the forehead and fixed the hairline.
Do you think this is a good update:

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 05:44 PM.
  06 June 2014
Well, to me, her nose isn't so unappealing that you need to change it so much. Noses are important in likeness, and it's not as if we have so many features that we wouldn't miss you altering one of them so much. We only have eyes, nose, mouth, and facial contour, and if you change one of them significantly, it's quite noticeable.

I don't know the story behind why you're doing this portrait, though, so it's not easy to say whether your approach is right. Is it a gift for her? Is it simply a personal project? If this is meant to be shown to the girl who's the model, then what exactly are you expressing to her? That you think her nose is unattractive so you changed it significantly? How would she react? But if she's aware of this or was the one to request you to idealize her face, then I guess it's fine.

The updated version does look better. The hair still looks too stiff and unnatural though. You're portraying the hair as if it consists of stiff steel wires that are very sharp, instead of soft, silky hair. You need show the hair as layers of masses with a sense of body and volume and weight that groups together due to static electricity, as opposed to individual wires that remain so clearly separate from each other and conveys no sense of gravity and weight. If you study the work of master portrait artists, none of them paint hair in that manner.

Also, the flow of the hair looks really odd at the are to the left of her forehead, as if the hair strands that start at the split suddenly just disappears after just one inch, and we only see the layer under it once they disappear. You need to portray hair so that we can clearly see where strands go, where they originate from, and it has to make visual sense.

I suggest you go and look at the portraits by John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Pino, Zhaoming Wu, Nelson Shanks, Steve Assael, Morgan Weistling, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Casey Baugh, etc. They all excel at portraits and some are considered the best in the world. Study how they never render their paintings to death until all expressiveness have been snuffed out and everything looks too artificial. There is always some expressiveness in the brushwork, regardless of the level of detail, and they never treat everything with the same level of polish--there's always some kind of creative use of selective detail/focus. This is what advanced artists do.
  06 June 2014
This is a gift for the girl in the photo/painting. And you are right, altering her nose or other features significantly isn't a nice thing to do for the subject. I modified the shape of her nose to match the photo a little.
After looking at some portraits from the master artists you listed, I wanted to try out some expressive brushwork. I modified the hair in the process, so it looks more like layered masses. Do you think this is an improvement:

EDIT: Updated version uploaded

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 03:19 AM.
  06 June 2014
The nose doesn't seem to have changed too much. In the photo, her nose isn't that pert and don't tilt up at the tip like in your portrait. The tip of her nose is more rounded/bulbous, and not nearly as sharp.

The hair looks much more natural now, although the way you blended it is a bit too haphazard and not strategic enough. It seems like some of your brushwork/blending is arbitrary and don't serve any purpose except to blur things, and don't even follow the flow of the hair's curvature. Expressive brushwork is not arbitrary in any way--it's actually highly calculated and executed carefully.

You might want to read this post I wrote about the common misconception that people have about speedpainting and expressive brushwork: http://forums.cgsociety.org/showpos...573&postcount=4

It would be a good idea for you to some master copies in the future and learn to walk in the shoes of the masters. It's a great way to learn how to deploy brushwork the way masters do (though don't just copy blindly--you must analyze how the brushwork is used to convey forms, where to simplify, where to detail, when to stroke against or along the forms, how the edges are controlled, and so on).
  06 June 2014
Does the nose look more accurate now? I changed a bit in the hair too. I hope this looks better, I think I'm out of ideas for next step:

EDIT: fixed nose shadow

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 04:48 PM.
  06 June 2014
I did a quickie paintover for you.

I highlighted with magenta the problematic areas in the hair--the vague, careless areas in the hair that needs to be finessed more.

The hair is also still not handled as well as could be, since you're sort of trying to merge your old style of really sterile and clean and detailed strands with the newly learned painterly and organic approach, and you're jumping from one to the other from one spot to the next without creating a cohesive intermediary between the two extremes, so the two styles kind of clash and don't sit well together. You need to create more middle-ground between the two approaches, or being the two approaches closer to each other overall.

I reshaped the nose and altered the angle/thickness/position of the eyebrows a bit, to get closer to her likeness.

It's hard to do something like this with such an inadequate photo reference. This type of work would go much more smoothly if there were additional photo references of the person in different angles, lighting situations, expressions, etc, and of course, ideally there's one that's as close to the painting you want to paint as possible.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg iuXt8xuSOoOnE-robedit Copy.jpg (91.7 KB, 19 views)
  06 June 2014
I see the photo reference isn't very clear, my bad. Here 3 photos of the same girl in different angles
I would really appriciate if you can take another look at the nose. I'll be working on the hair as you suggest. Thanks a lot

Edit: I took it as a personal challenge that I paint something mainly from a low quality photo of her choice. In the end it'll be a gift for her as i mentioned above.

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 09:14 AM.
  06 June 2014
I tried to be more accurate this time and used grids and put the profile of her face to the side, also inserted a reference for nose angle. I also applied similar transformation to the eyebrows as you did:
Do you think this is accurate enough?
painting without grid and reference photos: http://i.minus.com/ivwu3t8NJEU3Z.jpg

Last edited by enthralled : 06 June 2014 at 04:03 PM.
  07 July 2014
The size of her nose is still too small. Based on the additional photos, I see that her nose bridge when seen from the profile has a curvature, so keep that curvature. But the tip of her nose and the width of her nose needs to be larger/wider like in the paintover I did. That is one of the main characteristics of her face.
  07 July 2014
Thanks for taking another look. You are very helpful
I sat with the girl yesterday and showed her the painting. This is what she likes so far regarding nose & mouth. So I guess I'll keep it to her liking. I also reshaped the face contour to appear slimmer, as the reference photos are a little old and she's lost some weight. I worked on the hair as you suggested and it turned out much better than before. Please tell me what you think:

Edit: minor modifications

Last edited by enthralled : 07 July 2014 at 04:37 PM.
  07 July 2014
Well, as they say, the customer is always right. In this case, it's the girl whose portrait you're doing.

I think overall, this looks significantly better than the original version you posted. It's much more organic and natural, and with warmer color cast that's more appealing. Stick a fork in it and call it done.
  07 July 2014
Cool. Thanks for following up. You are a great help
Next I'll be doing master portrait copies as you recommended earlier; to have a better understanding of how master artists use expressive brushwork and selective detail focus
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