The story of my first portrait (graphite)

Hi guys,

I wanted to share my try, at a portrait and explain step by step what I was thinking, where I had problems and how I solved them. I had so much fun and I learned so much in one drawing.
I didn’t think I was able to draw this but I wanted to give it a go.
I searched on YouTube for a tutorial and found a 10 min video of someone drawing this portrait, so it was heavily speeded up and so I had to figure things out myself.

It started with me drawing a sketch of the face and with the raster technique copying it to my drawing paper. At that time I didn’t know how important paper was so I used a grainy A3, 95gram paper. I know now that this is the worst option for portraits. I mean… it was bad, it wasn’t even white paper :man_facepalming:

I cleaned up the edges, lighten up the sketch and taped off the edges with tape. It started pretty easy, filling in the forehead (although I spend a lot of time with the pores). Making small dots and blending them in as well as using the kneaded eraser and precision eraser for some extra contrast.

At this point I’m already thinking I’m way over my head but I didn’t feel like I made mistakes so I kept going. I used the gelly roll pen here for the first time to highlight some water and start filling in the eye.

Here I’m thinking, wow… did I do that? I took my time with all the eyelashes and the eyebrow, but when I drew the water texture I felt so happy thinking, I just made that…
Btw, regarding the video I was watching, 1 sec in the video took me 30 min to an hour to catch up.
But I felt good about it and couldn’t wait to start on the next part.

I’m on cloud 9 right now. I can’t believe I’m this far in. This eye went pretty much the same as the first eye. It took me longer tho, not sure why… I added more white dots with the gelly roll and was ready to move on to the next part.
I’m like, I got this…

I filled the left side pretty quickly but I knew I had to come back to that part.
Now the nose… omg the nose was difficult. I really thought I was done with the hard part, but man… I’m stupid.
But I couldn’t see any clear mistakes yet, so I kept going.

I filled in her cheek and roughly added the water. Most time spent here was on her pores. Adding little dots, blending, precision eraser…
Around this time I ordered a daylight lamp so I work in the evenings. It’s time for her other cheek.

My lamp arrived! Woohoo…
This part was hard for me cuz he went so fast in the video I couldn’t see what he was doing. I wasn’t super happy with the water there and after redrawing the textures 3, 4 times I felt I should move on. But I start noticing some mistakes…

The eyes had a slightly different color, the water flow wasn’t right in some places and the shading of the water wasn’t right. I made marks on where I need to make those changes and went ahead on fixing these first, before moving on.

I smoothed out the water flow and changed some minor details, added the part under her nose, which was harder then expected, and it was time for the final push.

This whole last part took 2 seconds in he video and at this point I was just winging it. I stopped listening to what he said and just had music playing. You might have noticed the bottom part looks weird or unfinished and there’s a good reason for, you ready?
I used the wrong pencil. I bought several pencils for really black parts and one of them was the Caran D’ache Luminance, black.
They are great, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t mix with my Faber-Castell graphite pencils very well. Before I knew I couldn’t work in this stuff anymore. After this drawing I immediately started testing my pencils to see what works and what not.
For future reference, the Faber-Castell Pitt oil base black works a lot better.
Anyway, lessen learned.
I made some finishing touches and pulled the tape off.
Thank god it didn’t rip my poor quality paper in the proces.

I stepped back, looked at it and felt so disappointed. Yeah disappointed… I’ve been staring so long to this perfect reference picture I immediately noticed all the little differences and it just made mine look weird. Like a warped version of the reference picture.
I showed it to some people thinking they will see the same, but they didn’t. They were amazed I drew this. And then someone told me to put the drawing away for a day. Don’t look at it for a while.
Roughly 24 hours later I grabbed my drawing and suddenly I had a whole different view. I kinda liked it now and when another day past and I started to love it.

This drawing took my roughly 10 hours spread over several days.
Still struggling with long-covid so it’s hard for me to focus for long periods of time. But I’m so proud I finished it and this whole process really made me love realism. I learned a lot about myself and the materials I’m using.
After this drawing I felt I wanna take drawing more “serious” and got myself a subscription here. It’s money well spent. In the couple days I’m here I met some of the nicest people ever with amazing talents and let’s not forget the goldmine of videos Matt produces.
I can’t explain how much I’m looking forward to learn and meet new people here.
Thank you for your time :slight_smile:

-SlippyPaints :orange_heart:


This is great. Love it.

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