Monday, 26 September 2016

Portrait Practice #15 on Rey (Star Wars Force Awakens)

A year is a long time without drawing; for me it is anyway. Drawing is akin to riding a bike i.e. a skill you aren't likely to forget just because you haven't been doing it regularly. That being said, realistic portrait drawing is something you get good at only with regular practice. My drawing skills are rusty and it shows. Natural born artists are geniuses and as rare as they come. For the rest of us mere mortals, regular practice is the only thing that can result in better art. And practice I must.  

First graphite portrait in a year ... just glad to be drawing again

But strangely enough, for a piece that's one year too late I'm actually still quite happy with it. Despite over 365 days of neither acquiring any new skills nor honing any existing ones, I didn't wholly lose what I had previously learned. Some mistakes were repeated, some avoided. Inconsistencies abound but thankfully any skill regression was kept to a minimum. That's not saying much since I wasn't starting from a high base but a relief nonetheless for someone looking to progressively improve.  

Portrait Practice #15 on Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey as played by Daisy Ridley

Drawing an accurate and recognisable portrait is said to be one of the hardest things to do. Any little thing can make a portrait drawing look nothing like the subject matter in question. Even knowing that, I had for some unfathomable reason decided to shift the position of Rey's irises to show her gazing directly ahead instead of off into the distance like in the original reference image.  

Adjustments to the portrait meant Rey's eyes now stared directly ahead versus off into the distance 

This was a genuinely idiotic thing to do as it heaped more pressure on me to get the graphite blending/shading of the lights and shadows accurate enough to depict a face/neck that is tilted upwards and off to the side. Specifically to the image in question, the new location of the irises implies that Rey's facial plane was directly parallel to the drawing paper which isn't the case at all. These are some of the little things that make you go ... D'oh! ... Homer Simpson style. 

Portrait was completed with both traditional as well as mechanical pencils

In a way, I'm starting to feel constrained by the student grade papers I draw on. That could mean two things. The good - I'm improving. The bad - it's not the paper its me. A lot of top artists use smooth Bristol paper to draw realistic graphite portraits. Unfortunately, it's still too expensive for me to buy such drawing papers online due to prohibitive shipping costs. Instead, what I could do was source a possible equivalent - the Daler Rowney Smooth Cartridge Pad - locally. Going forward I will use both the existing Daler Rowney Graduate Pad as well as the new drawing pad to draw the portraits.   

Reference image/photo of Rey that was used for this practice session

In addition to my graphite drawing and miniature painting hobbies, I've also been bitten by the colored pencil bug. You heard right ... colored pencils. But not your low pigment school variety. It's the highly pigmented Sanford Prismacolor Premier (wax based), Faber Castell Polychromos (oil based) as well as Derwent Coloursoft (wax based) fine art pencils I'm talking about. There will be the usual bedding in period with a new art medium but it's going be a fun journey to complement what I already enjoy doing now. Life's all about the journey and I can't wait to get started on this one, with continuing progress on my other two hobbies of course. Hopefully, you'll join me for the ride!


  1. That's a pretty good portrait. And you're right about practice - I haven't touched one in literally decades ... really afraid to see what might come of my hands! Good job!

    1. Don't be afraid. I'm sure it will all come back to you as you start. And thanks for the positive feedback! :)

  2. I've never tried portraits and therefore don't have a clue how easy or hard this might be. However, I'm very impressed with your work; it looks good to me!

    1. Thank you very much for your kind kind words. :)
      I'm in the 'anyone can draw' camp so I guess it will be hard at the starting and getting progressively easier with practice. ^_^

  3. Stunning, and very impressive. :)


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