step by step: blend the beau­ti­ful with the bizarre

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Artist Insight Fantasy Portraits -

1 Ba­sic shapes

I start out with two sim­ple shapes that de­fine the head and shoul­der area. They have a nice bal­ance, and give the feel­ing of a sculpted bust.

2 Plac­ing the fea­tures

I move into the face mak­ing sure I get the place­ment and size of the eyes, nose and mouth cor­rect. Some­times I’ll use the tra­di­tional grid tech­nique to en­sure the pro­por­tions are cor­rect. Check the neg­a­tive spa­ces in be­tween the fea­tures. Hold the draw­ing up­side down and look at it in the mir­ror. You’ll be sur­prised at what you no­tice.

3 Tonal struc­ture

I use the graphite pow­der pounce to block in large dark ar­eas. I want to sur­round the light­est area, her face, with a dark shape that is rem­i­nis­cent of a hair shape. This high-con­trast area will pull the viewer’s eye there when the piece is fin­ished.

4 Find­ing the chaos

I take out my bag of rocks and shells and find ones I think will bring out tex­tures and shapes that will work well with this de­sign. I press the eraser into the nat­u­ral sur­faces, and then press it into the dark ar­eas I cre­ated with the pounce. The eraser lifts up the graphite pow­der, leav­ing an eye-catch­ing patch­work of pat­terns and tex­tures that I will weave into some­thing in­ter­est­ing.

5 Adding whites

I use my white char­coal pen­cil to start adding high­lights to the face. Hav­ing de­cided on the lo­ca­tion of my light source, I want the cheek­bone and tip of the nose to cap­ture the bright­est high­lights. Build up your lights slowly, and don’t be afraid to use your fin­ger to smudge ar­eas to ad­just their tone or edge qual­ity.

6 Sym­me­try ver­sus bal­ance

I like asym­me­try in my im­ages, but I don’t want the piece to be un­bal­anced. At this point the right-hand side of the im­age is too heavy, so I add a twist­ing ap­pendage to the left-hand side to bal­ance things out. It doesn’t match the twists of the other horn, but that doesn’t mat­ter when deal­ing with the grotesque.

7 Fin­ish­ing de­tails

Com­plet­ing the piece is sim­ply a mat­ter of go­ing in and dark­en­ing cer­tain ar­eas and light­en­ing oth­ers un­til I get a pleas­ing tonal range. A lot of fine tun­ing of tex­tu­ral de­tails oc­curs at this point, too.

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