step by step: blend the beautiful with the bizarre
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.