Four ways of beginning a portrait by Ben Lustenhouwer

In this video I want to show you four ways to transfer the drawing of the portrait on the canvas. But before I start I want to say something about portrait painting based on photography
people sometimes disapprove this way of working, you are cheating you have to
work exclusively from life model they say. I can tell you this: It is important
that you learn to work from observation that’s clear and of course good drawing
skills are very important I know. But there is no argument against another
approach. Take a look at the Internet and hear what David Hockney says in his BBC
documentary The Secret Knowledge. All right I will show you four ways. First the tracing method then using a projector or a Beamer third the grid
drawing and finally by observation. Here we go. This is a picture of my model. Suppose you have no possibility to make a large copy yourself. The easiest way is to go to your local coffee shop and ask for an enlargement. There is a chance that the
picture does not fit on one sheet so order two copies one of the top sides
and one of the bottom and join them carefully On top of this image you place across a
piece of transparent paper and stick it to the copy Trace the outlines of the portrait. Not with too many details, only the main shapes and lines. Check thoroughly that everything is on it. I forgot one eye here. I pay attention to what is the front and what is the back side. On the back side I cover the pencil lines with charcoal. I turn over the sheet and place it on
the canvas. Now the charcoal is on the back. I stick the paper onto the canvas, but before I continue I make four cross marks. First on the canvas and then trace them on the paper If needed I can lay back the sheet just
at the same place. Now I copy the pencil drawing by retracing it with pressure. The charcoal will mark this drawing on my canvas. The framed linen might bounce and that can be difficult to draw on. Place a book under the canvas to avoid
this spring back. The lines appear thinly on the canvas. Now I take a red pencil and redraw the
portrait carefully. Red pencil just because the black graphite will later shine through the layers of the oil. paint and that’s pretty dangerous. Passing the drawing I pay attention to the original photograph and correct
where necessary. The drawing is on the canvas and now I can make the underpainting, which I usually paint in acrylics. Check out my other videos on my
blog how I do this. There is a variety of projectors
available in the market. From opaque enlargers to digital projectors. The basic problem is the pre action method. It is of utmost importance that the projected image appears on the canvas without distortion. This can be checked by
drawing a perfect square on the canvas and then project a square from the
projector across it. move to projector until the two squares fit exactly one over another. Another way is this: Here you see my digital photograph of the
model. The size of my canvas is 60 cm wide and 73 high in this case. In Photoshop I crop the image to the same ratio. On a separate layer I divide both sides in four equal parts. I make the same distribution on the canvas,
in red pencil, never just black pencil. Projecting this image I make sure the
guidelines in the picture correspond exactly with the red lines on the canvas. Now I can copy the photograph on the canvas. I f you can’t use or you don’t want to
use a projector then the grid method is a good solution. An easy way to make a
grid is by using tracing paper on top of a picture, but I will show you how I do this in Photoshop. As you see I have a Spanish Photoshop version but I will say the names in English. Go to VIEW>SHOW GRID Now you see the grid over the image. To change the size of the squares go to PREFERENCE>GUIDES>GRIDS Set the size of the square in such a way that it suits you. Create a separate layer. Select the pencil from the menu and make the line as thin as possible in the settings. Place the cursor on the first
grid line. Press the shift key and now draw the line. Hold down the shift key to
make straight horizontal line. I think you can’t see it very well but if you
hide the grid you see the drawn lines. Now complete the whole image. Where the face is I make some diagonal lines to have more support later. Place the cursor
in one corner of a square and click on it. Now go to the other corner press the
shift key and then click. In this way the two points will connect. The image I print out and attach it next to my canvas on the easel Now I take over the picture carefully. The problem with this method is that you quite quickly can go astray with all
these squares and and I must admit I’m not so good at this method. I use charcoal for the mayor lines and
surfaces. In some areas where I need more exactness, I make the drawing in red
pencil. Drawing from observation. This is the classical method and I would recommend you all to work directly from
observation as much as possible. A good exercise for the perception and for your drawing skills. I start with the contours of the face and make sure that the portrait will come on the right place on the canvas. Here I see I must start more to the left. First I determine the full width of the portrait. Now I measure how this width relates to the height. I see that the
width is equal to the face up to the hairline. It is very important that you
always measure with your stretched arm otherwise the information is not
reliable. Now I have the height and the width. I can subdivide the face I give you two essential books:
Bridgman´s “Drawing from life” and “Drawing the human head” by Byrne Hogarth. This demonstration is too short to
explain in detail all about drawing from observation, I hope you’ll understand
that comes later maybe. It is important to measure as much as possible and to compare the relation of lines forms and values. It is good to know that there are
a number of standard facial measurements but for a person’s characteristic facial
proportions the secondary forms, small as they are, have the greatest visual impact.
Therefore compare as long as possible and see to it that you are more and more
coming around a good likeness. I do this drawing in charcoal my
favorite material. Together with some brushes this technique gives me the opportunity to correct during the process as much as needed. I can start now in oils but before I do that I have to fix my drawing on the canvas with a fixative.

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