Hey there! Guess who's back? I'm up and running like a crazy person, with projects and more projects, but that's actually a good thing. Everything has a price, though: just look at me, Friday night writing a blog instead of being out there living la vida loca. Naaa, partying like a madman is not my style, but still, I should have written this blog earlier today (the procrastinator is back!).
Anyway, since I'm late already, I might as well take my time writing this. For this blog entry I wanted to talk about rendering faces on a pin-up... or at least on mine. I've talked many times about how my artwork style changed last year, shifting to a bit more realistic look. An important part of that change is how I render faces, or the look I want for them. I'm attempting to reach a style that features a semi-realistic look, but at the same time I don't want it to be a portrait. A semi-portrait perhaps.
I used to render portraits many years ago, before deciding to become a professional artist. I've had my share of portraits and I know I can do it. So, now I'm trying to get to a rendering that looks more like an advertising illustration than a realistic painting. I'm talking about simplified shadows and highlights, reduced palette of colors and tonalities, thicker outlines, etc. I think that painting like this is a good way to simplify things in my head when it comes to artwork. The more I render a pretty face without getting too much into details, the easier it comes to me.
Now, although is true that I want to render a pretty but simple face, I also want to end up with a good likeness to the model in turn. I could draw a generic face, that would work for most of my work, I've done it before. And while that is perfectly OK when it comes to artwork, it's not really what I want. Instead, I want to render faces that do look like the featured model. In the past, most of my cartoons would essentially look like the reference model. But now I've taken it a step further. Looking "somehow" or "kind of like" the model is not enough anymore. Now I want people, in specific fans of the models in question, to recognize them by looking at the artwork. And so far, so good. :)
But how do I do it? How do I end up with an image that has the model likeness without employing much shading or detailing? Honestly, I take a lot of my background as a caricaturist into play. In case you didn't know, I used to work as a caricaturist right after I moved to Las Vegas, where I currently reside. That itself is a story for another blog entry, but let me just mention that that job, even though it was a bit short (I worked doing that for less than two years), it really laid the foundation for a lot of my work today. One of those foundations is finding the important features in the face of the subject, and focus on those, so the final artwork has a real likeness to the person being drawn.
OK, that sounds pretty good. But again: how do I do it? I mean, yes, it's pretty clear that I want the artwork to look like the model, but the likeness won't magically appear on my paper or canvas. In my personal case, I start working on the eyes. Eyes are very important. I don't know if they're the windows of the soul, but they can surely elevate the quality of a piece... or bury it. Eyes, in my opinion, are one of the most important parts (if not the most important) when infusing life to a portrait. Have you ever looked at some piece of artwork and have the feeling that the subject is dead? Bad rendered eyes can be the cause of that, most often that not.
When drawing eyes, pay close attention to shapes, sizes, colors, direction, orientation, etc. Think of eyes as shapes and positive/negative spaces. You must get those factors right first, and then you can worry about details like highlights, eye lashes, eye brows, etc. You have to stop seeing eyes as a big and complicated mass. The point here is to make things simpler, and the trick is to identify what should stay and what should go (hey, I said that was the trick, I never said it would be easy). Once you start seeing this in a more simplistic way, you can get a likeness with fewer lines and details. The beauty of this method is that it works with any part or feature of the body as well. Look for those shapes, those negative spaces, those distances between lines. All those often overlooked details are what will make the difference. There's no point on having a perfectly shaded and rendered nose, when 1) the nose is too big for the face proportion, and 2) the shape of that nose is wrong.
So, if you are interested in rendering this kind of art, practice, practice and practice. As I mentioned, the more you do it, the easier will come to you. Don't be afraid of making mistakes, that's the only way to keep going forward. Jump and dive in, I can assure you that you will have more fun if you start experimenting more and fearing less. :)
Thank you for reading this. I also invite you to share this blog entry in your social media, help me spread the word about my work. I'll be back next week to share more about my life and my work. In the meanwhile, have a greaaaaaaaat weekend! See you next time!
Pin-up artist by day… and also by night. Well, mostly by night, because night time is my favorite time to paint.