Author Topic: How to create a good resemblance in a portrait?  (Read 2350 times)

caleb

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How to create a good resemblance in a portrait?
« on: July 02, 2015, 12:09:17 PM »
I don't know if anyone here paints portraits often, but I have always had a problem creating portraits that resemble the subject closely. The painting or drawing is always pretty okay in itself, it just doesn't look enough like who I was trying to draw. Any tips?

Here's one of Homare Sawa that I made last night.



original: https://w00kie.com/uploads/2011/09/homare-sawa.jpg

Obviously it's not exactly complete, but I was struggling with getting proportions exactly right. Even when I recognise the problem, like the eye or nostril is not the right shape or whatever, it really takes a lot of messing with it before I'm happy. I could use a grid or something, but I'm never comfortable doing it that way. I know it's not 'cheating', but it's boring and mechanical. Caricature artists can get the essence of someone's character down without having to make the portrait look exactly correct.

Is there any technique whereby I can focus on the main character traits of the subject for example? I'd be interested to hear your methods :)

YellowDragon

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Re: How to create a good resemblance in a portrait?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2015, 11:51:59 PM »
Likeness is all about size, angle and position, if you can capture that, you'll will nail the likeness, but that can be extremely tedious and boring. So if you're looking to do a caricature and a good one here's a few simple concepts, the guys you see at the mall or amusements parks or fairs aren't usually the best, what they do is take the most prominent feature and just make it big so people go oh look at his big nose or look at her tiny eyes,and say that's totally her. either that or they have a generic formula of just making everyone's chin big and leaving it at that. here's what I would do. What should you do. first recognize face shape, thats really important if you get the basic shape wrong nothing else will feel right. second look at a persons face and decide the features that make them them and emphasize it.

here is what I'm seeing in the photo.

long rectangular face with bush hair.

eyes while dark are markedly small, and close together.

nose is quite high on the face the and gap between nose and lips is quite large,

mouth is also quite large,

so now what do you do. well you have to make a drawing that says those things. the more you emphasize those statements the more them it will seem, and eventually if you over emphasize them it will be them but stylized. you likely could push it to some ridiculous extreme and still, because you've noticed the things that make them different and make them them, will read as more them then they are.

so to restate, you find what makes them different from everyone else, and you emphasize those features as a whole,

the problem with what you've done, is you've taken this very dynamic person, with extremely unique facial structure and made her generic Asian geisha #3, when 90% of her features fall well outside of stereotypical Asian proportions,(most notable pronounce forhead, large nose and large mouth, as well as bushy brown hair.)

I hope I make sense I made this post kind of rushed like.

Let me know if you need Clarification

-YD

caleb

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Re: How to create a good resemblance in a portrait?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2015, 05:20:46 PM »
All great points! That's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for, thanks!  :)
I think that drawing the face as a collection of simple geometric shapes first might be a good way to see what I'm trying to emphasize overall. I've never really been someone who looks at faces or makes eye contact, so I often forget people quickly and don't study them enough.

I don't like to go all on the defensive after such good advice, but I really wasn't trying to go for "generic/stereotypical asian" at all! I'm surprised that's how it comes across. I was mostly thinking about the way her hair outlines her face, making her head look smaller toward the top- it was definitely a focus of mine to imagine the contour of her head beneath the hair as well, if only to prevent mistakes in the proportions (if she wears her hair differently then it doesn't look so much that way). Also, her prominent and fairly square chin was something I tried to show. I had the picture in small, thumbnail size in the corner, with the intention of getting more of a sense of the overall shape and lighting, before going in and concentrating on details, so I suppose I probably missed some aspects I should have been capturing early on or something.  ::) Meh, maybe I'm being oversensitive, I just think that wasn't the mistake in my approach.

Anyway, I've recently been really impressed with what Scott McCloud does with his characters in a few simple strokes, which is what brought this all up in my mind in a way. I think something like this would be great for the tutorial section, perhaps, if someone is good at that kind of thing  ;)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2015, 05:28:24 PM by caleb »

YellowDragon

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Re: How to create a good resemblance in a portrait?
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 04:45:29 AM »
mayhaps you can forive my hyperboly, I tend exagerate concepts to make a point as i imagine many people do, my intent was to more push you in the direction of exageration, as we all tend to over simplify and average many things we see; it is also my point to say that while it may not of been your intent, our subconcious mind tends to label things a certain way, it Appears that yours has while extracted a few details of her nature has also clearly said this person is asian and in so doing has written in drawn lines what that means to you, and while this may seem a contradiction in some fashion to what I said earlier, to get a likeness we must avoid symbols and focus on visuals.