Sunday, March 23, 2014

Portrait Series: Marianne Hardart

Continuing my portrait series, this was another one I found fairly difficult (as I’m sure I’ll say of each one.  These things aren’t easy for me, let’s just put it that way).  Here’s the original picture. I worked on Marianne’s portrait first because it was the first I received.

Here’s my sketch.

There were two things I was very pleased with in this sketch, and one thing I knew would be a problem.  I liked the eyes and the strong cheek bones, something that really defined the face.  However, I had trouble recreating the smile from the photo.  No matter how I drew it, it looked wrong, cartoony, out of place, or just weird.  I definitely need to do more research and/or practice on how to draw a smile since I do think this was the first time I attempted to draw a smile with teeth.  While coloring, I thought to myself that I’d just leave it as a kind of sheened smile without indication separate teeth, just one big block of *smile.*  

I messed up right in the beginning of coloring – my color relationships were all out of wack.  I had the hair a bright maroon, the face a dark blue, and the lighter parts of the face a bright pink.  If you could imagine it, it was a mess.  I took some time away from it and when I went back to it, I scrapped the whole color layer and started again, this time closer to the original photo's original colors. 

I thought about what I liked about the photo and part of it was how innocently happy it looked.  With that, I chose much lighter colors; yellow, sky blue, and kept the intense orange of Marianne’s hair.  Similar to Stephanie’s portrait, I cut out part of the body, leaving only the neck and the upper-most area above the collarbone.  

Other things I went back and/forth on was the background.  I started with a dark brown but kept lightening it, though I was scared the color would be too similar to the color I used for Marianne’s hair.  Still, there was difference enough where you couldn’t really be confused and it complemented the skin enough.  I played around a lot with the light blue, yellows, and greens that resulted if I mixed the colors, which you will see in her eyes once I show the final image.  One of the other decisions I made was to make her lips red, adding a strong, saturated accent.

But.  (There’s always a but)

The smile still didn’t look right.  My strategy of having a band of nondescript teeth made the whole thing look unfinished and I wasn’t sure what to do.  I temporarily took off all the colors and tried to draw in teeth again.  Where in my original pencil sketch I drew the teeth in a loose and undetailed manner, in this version, I drew the smile with a focus on each individual tooth, making sure it was shaded right, highlighted correctly, going for a more realistic look.  It looked…okay.  Okay, enough for me to color.  Honestly, I was kind of impressed.  The teeth looked fairly realistic but there was still a problem. It was too realistic where I had not used too much realism in the rest of the sketch.  Again, it stuck out, not for looking bad or ugly, but for not coinciding with the rest of the portrait's style.
So I (kindamaybesomewhat) cheated.  I changed the portrait, closing the lips, and making a different smile.  But it's important to know when things look wrong and I know when I can or cannot fix things.  Part of this portraiting project is to get better at it, and it means that I’ll come across challenges.  This was one of them where I didn’t necessarily overcome the challenge, but went around it and finished it anyway.  Here is the final image.

Sorry I couldn’t capture your entire likeness, Marianne, but I hope you still like it.