Guidelines For Pencil Portrait Sketching - The Six Elements Of Portrait Sketching

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Guidelines For Pencil Portrait Sketching - The Six Elements Of Portrait Sketching Powered By Docstoc
					Sketching in general entails 4 distinct steps: line, tone, texture, and form. In the
special case of pencil portrait drawing we can refine the list of steps to six: form,
proportion, anatomy, texture, tone, and planes.

In this article we will give a detailed account of each of those pencil portrait drawing

(1) Form Shape or Shape - The illusion of three-dimensionality in sketching and art in
general has been fundamental to Western art for centuries. The carving out of form
using line, structure, and tone was essential to almost all Renaissance art.

In contrast, eastern and much contemporary art stress flatness of form although this
era in contemporary art is drawing to a close.

All form in sketching can be reduced to 4 basic three-dimensional solids: cones,
cylinders, spheres, and bricks. The proper use of these shapes together with
perspective and tone leads to the illusion of three-dimensionality even though the
drawing is, in actuality, located on a 2-dimensional sheet of sketching paper.

In portrait sketching, the arabesque of the skull, the square structure of the skull, and
all elements within the skull (nose, eyes, etc.) are all 2- and three-dimensional shapes
that add to the overall illusion of three-dimensionality

(2) Proportion - includes all sizing and placements of form. Proportion refers to the
concept of relative length and angle size.

Proportion gives answers to these 2 questions:

1. Given a defined unit of length, how many units is a particular length?

2. How large is this particular angle?

Answering these two questions every time accurately will give a drawing with the
right proportions and placements of all shapes.

(3) Anatomy - refers in effect to the underlying structures of bone and muscle of the

It is essential to study as much as you can about anatomy. There are many studies
available on anatomy for artists. For a portrait artist it is particularly significant to
study the anatomy of the skull, neck, and shoulders.

Anatomy texts unfortunately include many Latin terms which makes it a bit
complicated to grasp. The idea is to study slowly and a little bit at a time because it
can be quite frustrating.

(4) Texture - in portrait sketching expresses the degree of roughness or smoothness of
the shapes. The texture of a rhino skin, for instance, is quite different from that of a

There exist quite a few methods and tricks to assist you with the creation of the
correct textures. Creating textures presents you with the opportunity to be very
creative and to use each possible type of mark you can make with a pencil. In portrait
sketching textures appear in places such as hair, clothing, and skin.

(5) Tone - refers to the degrees in light or dark of the pencil marks and hatchings.
Commanding portrait sketches use the full palette of contrasting lights and darks.
Beginning artists many times fail to reach this full "stretch" of tone, resulting in timid,
washed-out drawings.

(6) Planes - produce the sculptural sensibility of a portrait. The skull has many planes
each with a unique direction and therefore with a different tone.

The goal is to think of the surface of the skull as a collection of distinct planes with a
certain direction relative to the light source. You should try to identify each of the
planes and sketch its correct shape and tone.

The correct handling of planes contributes very much to the likeness of your model as
well as the illusion of three-dimensionality.

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