Drawing realistic portrait from a photograph – portrait art tutorial #portrait, #drawing,


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How to draw a realistic pencil portrait from a photograph. How to draw the face in a realistic style. Tips suggestions.

To the left is a pencil portrait drawn in the detailed realistic style. (Click on thumbnail image to see larger version.)

There isn’t really much of a secret to drawing in this style. I was first introduced to this technique by one of my teachers who was an illustrator for the LA Times. and known for his extremely detailed work. He explained it very simply you just get a sharp pencil, smooth Bristol board, and draw in the itty-bitty details. His own work was known for its scary photo-realistic detail, so I was a little amazed that this was all that there was to it! But that was it!

This portrait was drawn from a photograph. I didn’t use a grid or tracing paper I just sketched it in and rendered it.

Consult the step-by-step portrait tutorial to get an overview on how to draw a portrait. The process I went through to draw this realistic style of portrait is pretty much the same as described in that tutorial.

Materials to used for this drawing:

Bristol Board, smooth finish. (Smooth finish illustration board will also work.) It is important that the paper be smooth, and doesn’t have a lot of tooth (texture). I use Strathmore Bristol Board, in the 9×12 or 11×14 sized pads.

For this portrait, I used a .05 mechanical pencil. I usually use a B or 2B lead, but this time I only had an HB. It was sufficient. A regular pencil will work fine, as long as it is kept sharpened.

Kneaded Rubber Eraser. It was invaluable in picking up stray lines, softening tones, and erasing errors. Really good with erasing small, delicate areas.

To keep smudging at a minimum, I used a scrap of paper underneath my hand as I drew. I also attached a sheet of tracing paper to go over the drawing, sort of as an overlay. It was there to help prevent smearing as the drawing was being moved and transported around. The tracing paper also protected the drawing from fingerprints and dirt.

All preliminary sketching was drawn lightly, so that stray pencil strokes could be erased later. When I felt I had drawn in the face correctly, I started lightly adding more detail and shading. I double-checked the drawing in the mirror (a good way to see errors) regularly, to make sure nothing had gone astray.

All through the progress of the drawing, I used the Kneaded Rubber Eraser to lighten up areas, and erase mistakes. I would use the eraser to pat pat pat an area that had gotten too dark. This would lighten the area without smearing the graphite, or losing the quality of the pencil strokes. The eraser was also very good at completely erasing an area, without damaging the surface of the paper.

The drawing progressed, as I kept adding more detail and shading. All shading was done lightly at first, and then darkened progressively. The sharp point on the .05 pencil kept all pencil strokes fine and small. This way, I was able to retain a realistic and detailed look to the drawing.

I didn’t draw as much detail in the hair or clothing. This was a deliberate stylistic choice. The center of focus is the face, not the hair and clothes. It is a nice touch to have some loosely rendered areas, that allow the pencil strokes to show. This gives a nice arty feel to the portrait, and reminds us that it is a drawing. not a slavishly copied photograph.

A detail of the eye. All the pencil strokes are crosshatched, not smeared or smudged. The gentle crosshatch gives the portrait a cleaner, neater appearance. It is much easier to control than smudging. Small subtle details are easier to define.

If the crosshatching technique is done with these small, refined pencil strokes, the effect will look smooth and even photo-realistic when the portrait is seen at a normal distance.

If contour lines are used in conjunction with the crosshatching, a subtle but effective dimensional effect will occur. This will enhance the realistic look of the portrait.

A close-up of the nose and mouth. This is an enlarged view – the original drawing is much smaller.

Notice that there is a subtle indication of a highlight on the tip of the nose, and a highlight on the bottom lip. This was achieved by gently laying down a light tone around these highlights. With a portrait this detailed, most of the face will be rendered as a light gray, so that such highlights will show up.

When seen at normal size, most of these light pencil crosshatching strokes will not be very visible. However, the crosshatching technique is not unattractive, and needn’t been concealed, or hidden.

The drawing was completed over the expanse of three days. I drew in and did most of the rendering of the face in one evening (perhaps 4 – 5 hours). Only the darkest dark tones were not yet rendered on the first night. The next evening I tweaked and corrected out some details. This took approx. 1 hour. The third night, I tweaked and corrected the drawing yet again. (Another hour or so.) Bear in mind that some portraits will take much longer to complete. It depends on the size of the drawing, the complexity of the pose, and how much drawing practice the artist has. The more practice you put in, the faster you’ll get.

The actual time it took (in total hours) to complete the drawing isn’t as important as the days it took to declare it completed. I always need to wait a few days to finally consider the likeness to be OK. Getting the portrait drawn and rendered isn’t the problem that can be done in a few hours. Capturing the fleeting likeness takes more time, and objectivity. Just because the drawing is more or less in proportion doesn’t mean the likeness is there yet.

It is almost impossible for me to really finish a drawing in one sitting. I am too close to the subject. Certain errors and problems just don’t pop out at me until I’ve slept on it. The likeness may appear to be good when I am working on the drawing, but in the morning I’ll see all sorts of problems. Therefore, I find it is preferable to do a drawing over the expanse of several days, rather than to rush it and try to finish it all in one sitting.


Shameless plug!

Copyright JR Dunster 2002 – 2015 All Rights Reserved

No permission is given to use the information, (graphics, text) on this site in any other way other than for individual use. You may not use, publish or copy the information to a floppy disk or any other type of storage system or device without permission from me, JR Dunster. You may only print out one copy of each page (for personal use only).

(Original Ben Browder photo reference for this portrait: FARSCAPE and TM 2002 The Jim Henson Company, SCIFI.COM 2002-2004 SCI FI). Please do not save the portrait image on your hard drive it is for viewing only.


Benchmark Passages #reading #program, #leveled #reading, #leveled #books, #lesson #plans, #student #worksheets,


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Digital Running Records on Raz-Plus

With our Online Running Record tool, Raz-Plus or Raz-Kids members can:

  • Assign and listen to recordings of Benchmark Passages and Books.
  • Score recordings using an online running record tool.

BENCHMARK PASSAGES & RUNNING RECORDS

Find students’ instructional levels by assessing their reading skills with developmentally appropriate texts while recording reading behavior. Benchmark Passages are short text selections that are one part of a three-part process to help place students at their instructional levels for leveled reading sessions and to assess their readiness to progress to the next level.

Why Benchmark Passages

Benchmark Passages assess comprehension and reward students’ progress from level to level. They are one part of a three-part process that provides a more complete assessment of reading behavior and comprehension than any of the parts independently.

  • Each level has 2 fiction and 2 nonfiction passages.
  • Each level has at least 1 fiction-nonfiction passage pair on the same topic.
  • Each passage uses a level-appropriate percentage of words from leveled books at that reading level.
    • aa-E = 100%
    • F-J = 95% + 5% new words
    • K-Z = 90% + 10% new words
  • The text of the entire passage is used in the Running Record.
  • Most are one page long, but upper level passages can be two pages.
  • ALL are available on Raz-Plus .

How to Use Benchmark Passages

  1. Give a student a Benchmark Passage he or she has never seen before to read aloud. If you prefer to use familiar text, use the fiction-nonfiction topic pair at each level. Use one passage from the pair to support a student’s understanding of the topic before assessing with the other passage.
  2. Record the student’s reading behavior using the passage’s Running Record form.
  3. If a student scores 90 percent, assess the student’s comprehension using a Quick Check from Level A-Z and Retelling Rubrics .
  4. If a student scores from 90%-94% percent on the running record and answers comprehension questions at 80%-100%, he or she is at an instructional level. (For more details, see About Running Records ).
  5. Use Benchmark WOWzers to reward students’ progress from level to level.

Features and Chart

  • 2 7 words per line; 4.5 words average
  • 1 line per page
  • 30 55 words total
  • Complete sentences
  • Repetition of high-frequency words
  • Repetitive pattern with one or two word changes per page
  • Pattern may change on last page, such as a surprise ending
  • Predictable language
  • One-to-one text-to-picture correspondence
  • Familiar topics
  • Consistent text placement
  • 10 pages

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