Please help me paint a person’s head and their reflection in the mirror in the same painting
Liliana Blaszczyk, Poland
Painting a portrait through the veil of a mirror adds its own set of specific technical requirements to an illustration, beyond that of painting a compelling or attractive face. It also requires the painter to be able to find parallels that relate the subject to its reflection.
Often the art work I see addressing portraiture in reflection will depict a shot where the reflection acts as the actual portrait, and the subject is viewed from behind, usually over the shoulder. This is because the easiest way to get a portrait from a mirror that’s perpendicular to the subject’s glance is to create it from behind. However, by researching the subject I discover that by offsetting the angle of the mirror it’s possible to include more of the subject’s profile into the piece, while retaining the intended portrait. This act of tilting the mirror gives me more elements than provided by a ‘ back of the head’ shot to unify the relationship between the subject and reflection.
My approach is to match key anatomy points between the profile and the reflected portrait. I’m mindful that proportions determining the ‘ likeness’ are uniform across the portrait and profile, such as the distance from the eye-line to the bottom of the nose, and from that to the bottom of the chin. With the portrait in parallel, I use reference lines to match the portrait’s anatomical landmarks to the profile and correct any discrepancies using Photoshop’s Transformation tools. I mirror tones and hues from the profile to the reflection, and back again, ensuring that if I paint something in one, it’s also reflected in the other. Painting elements that distance the reflection, such as distortion along the bevel, dust and scratches, and an overall desaturation and cooling of things in the mirror completes the illusion.
By depicting the character at an angle in the mirror, I can reveal more of her profile to the viewer.