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Even with the conquest of digital technology in every realm of life, something is best enjoyed the traditional way. A portrait, for instance. Pencil artist Aakash Ramesh sticks to the old style and sketches out the realistic portrait of a popular personality. He shares the steps of the process.

Step 1 – Papers and References

Selected a good plain sheet of sketching paper. Placed the smoother side of the sheet over a plane. Chose the best reference picture with good shades and lightings. Took a print out of the reference picture in an A4 sheet by scaling it to the size planned. Grid the reference picture with a 2H pencil to avoid darker impressions, at the dimension of a 1-inch scale as shown.

Step 2 – Outline

Used the grid lines to fix the position of each element of the portrait falling into the perfect size while sketching the outline. Made the outline of the portrait with an HB pencil, which was lighter and could be erased and corrected at any point in time. Once the outline was finished, took up detailing using the shades of 2B and 4B pencils. To have a good start with the detailing, as a practice, always begin with the eyes as they are the most important factor and an element of a portrait.

Step 3 – Eyes

Used ‘Paper stumps’ or ‘Paper Tortillions’ to smudge the darker parts of the eyes as the character in the portrait had used darker eye cosmetics. The reflections of the eyes are very important as they make the eyes look real. Sketched the eyelashes individually and smudged it using the stumps. Made the shades below the eyes subtle so that the pencil strokes would not be visible. Took up the eyebrows and made them sharp at the edges as per the reference. It’s advisable to use a dusting bristle brush to wipe off all the pencil powders around the portrait in order to produce a quality output without messing it.

Step 4 – Nose

Used the stumps instead of the darker pencil strokes to detail the nose. It was the only projected part of a portrait and the shades should have been very subtle so avoided darker lines.

Cheeks, Lips and Skin

For this particular portrait, there were several shades required to create the cheeks, like in the reference picture. The character in the reference had a smile. To get the skin texture, used the ‘tissue papers’ for smudging the pencils strokes made over the side portions of the face. Gently rubbed the sketching sheet with the tissue paper so that the strokes smudged and smoother shades appeared.

 

Be careful to have no patches or dark shades while smudging with tissue papers, especially of your own fingerprints. Lip lines had to be darker while the shades were to be lighter by smudging. After finishing the shades in the lip, gave details to the texture of the lips with gentle strokes, using the 2B pencil.

Step 5 – Hair

Hair was the trickiest part of this portrait. The reference picture showed how darker and the deeper the shades of the hair were. Every hair had to be shown in detail to make it look realistic. At the beginning, strokes had to be made with the flow of the hair from the root of it because only by this an illusion of creating the hair with perfect shades could be attained. Made sure not to shade at the parts where it had to shine or glow.

 

Used various pencils to show the depth of the flow. Used 4B and 6B pencils, had them sharpened and made gentle and firm strokes. Took care not to make an impression on the paper by not giving it a harder press. Details that were required to make the hair look real were also making all the single hair look separated. This would make the hair to wave through the air.

Step 6 – Detailing

The final objects of the portrait would be the neck and the dress. The texture of the dress used in the reference picture varied due to the lighting. So used different pencils to show the difference in the shades. Strokes should not be visible as they would make the portrait look messy. Smudged the strokes until the texture cloth was created. Kept it gentle as there were chances of damaging the sheet due to over smudging.

Step 7 – Finalising

Used the ‘kneaded eraser’ to show the highlighted regions of the portrait. There was a small reflection of the lighting near the right cheeks. Used the kneaded eraser gently to wipe out the shades and make it look like a glow. Took off all the grid lines from the sheet as a last step. Erased all the unwanted shades around the portrait. Arrived at the final image.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

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Women, the kind around us, represent two faces of existence. One, which is treated like a commodity, shackled in the age old misdoings of the tradition. And the other which is breaking all boundaries to follow the dreams of freedom. Digital artist Ankur Singh Patar chronicles this duality in his artwork and explains the process of creation.

Artwork

Step 01

Drew a row sketch to get an idea of how the artwork would be. Created rough lines to get a feel.

Step 02

Added a background colour to decide on the skin tone of the woman. This would act as a base colour for the whole illustration. Also added more details in the face with a soft brush, taking care of the highlights and shadows.

Artwork

Step 03

With the help of a pen tool, created the lines and gave them little bit of shadow. With the help of big soft round brush added some softness and some more highlights and shadows to give depth to the portrait.

Step 04

To add more details in the artwork, changed the shape of the lips slightly. Also added a texture to the whole portrait, giving it a rustic feel.

Artwork

Step 05

While on the go, decided to change the illustration for good. On the canvas made the woman portrait smaller so that some more area could be achieved around her to play with. Took the help of slightly harder round brush to made these swirl shapes around her face.

Artwork

Step 06

Added more details around the portrait with the help of thin soft round brush. It’s all about highlights and shadows which add the depth and drama.

Artwork

Step 07

On Adobe Illustrator created a few abstract 3D shapes. Imported the shapes to Photoshop and with the help of dodge and burn tools, added the highlights. Wanted to give it a glow effect which was achieved through dodge tool.

Artwork

Step 8

Used some stock imagery and some more abstract edgy elements. Adjusted the colours and saturation to mix it with the illustration. Also adjusted the light source by painting the areas of the dome to the ambience.

For a portrait, it’s all about highlights and shadows, which add the depth and drama to it.

Artwork

Step 9

Created some more element and placed on top left of the canvas to make the composition complete and add meaning to it. For the eyes, added two earthen lamps to make it look like a reflection of light and to add life to the illustration.

Artwork

Step 10

Keeping with the idea of festivals, added those flags. Used a pen tool to create a triangle, filled it with a colour, reshaped it with warp tool and used dodge and burn tool to add depth to them. More depth was needed to the gate. So with a hard round brush added that.

Step 11

Painted the bricks on the face with the help of med-soft brush.

Step 12

To achieve the concept of two faces in one, half of it was broken with top skin removed and bricks inside. The other one was outer part or the body which was beautiful and flawless but underneath was all broken. Painted ornamental elements to make it look royal. Also added more colour and contrast into the whole illustration. More elements, like the abstract sharp edgy depicting a heart and a gear and queen in chess were added.

Step 13

Added gears underneath the bricks layer which depicted that part of our society which consider women as mere objects. Made the gears in Illustrator and imported them to Photoshop. Using a brush highlighted the areas where light might be falling and then added shadows. More things were needed to make the message clear. One of them was freedom, depicted by open wings. So, added couple of wings and painted the areas to mix them with the surrounding environment.

Step 14

Lastly, added some contrast and some more texture. Texture always helps in giving your illustrations some depth. Added some more flags at the top to complete the illustration. Achieved the final artwork.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

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Every day, one encounters all sorts of people – happy, angry, sad. These emotions are all displayed on their expressions, which give birth to different stories. Therefore, it’s the expression that’s the starting point for character artist Manav Sachdev. From expression to stories, he reflects on his design tenets.

Blob. As the name says, it has no shape or definition and is lost and helpless
Shiva

Silence Speaks a Thousand Words

Expressions, though a mute element, tells the complete story of a character. It holds in itself the complete ecosystem in which a character dwells. On gaming, one does have the opportunity to narrate and explain the character in motion. But on 2D medium, the expression of the character defines its persona. The body language, environment, costume and props of a character are all derived from the character. While the expression holds the key, every other element complements the authenticity of the character.

The Tribal Warrior – Kings Guard

The Rules for Creating a Character are Variable

In the field of gaming, the character comes out of a strong script and they have certain attributes like age, weight, strength, power etc. attached to them. One also needs to keep the variable of animation in mind. Whereas creating characters for other mediums, one has the freedom of creating a certain expression and form of the character. Of course, research and allegiance to the script play a big part. But an artist has the freedom to imagine without thinking much about making it suitable for animation.

Little Jack
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Little Jack Fishing

What You Observe is What You Create

There is an extensive amount of research that is required for character design. It is important to be observant of the world around which helps one to visualise and create characters. Realism plays an important role in character design. It’s not about copying a character but observing it and then executing it in one’s own way. Exaggeration is the next step. It depends on me how much one wants to imagine and also what the script demands. Across the process, one needs to have a strong visual sense to create an authentic yet imaginative character.

Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Mortal Heroes
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Rajasthani Nomad

The Subject Chooses the Artist

Everything around an artist is a source of inspiration. It is the hunger of learning something new every day, to observe something new and to execute something new that keeps an artist going. It’s a big world out there and we have a lot to learn. Let yourself loose in these inspirations. And before you realise, these inspirations will automatically push you into imagining and creating.

Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
The Funny Side of Technology
Look for the Story Behind Every Expression!
Rules But No Rules

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore. So Order Your Copy Now!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

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Portraiture, as an art form, is much older than photography. Great portrait masters have spent their lives learning this art. Vikas Sharma, a self taught photographer, finds himself in the same pursuit. He shares some of the rules of portrait photography, with the hope that one breaks them.

Portrait by Vikas Sharma
Portrait by Vikas Sharma

1. Eyes do the Talking

They are the foundation of a portrait. What do you want to do with them? Strong eyes, spontaneous, piercing, dull, happy or sad? Eyes looking away from the camera? Or closed, perhaps? Look at the subject’s eyes and decide what kind of story they speak. You can read the subject’s mind just by looking into their eyes.

Portrait by Vikas Sharma
Portrait by Vikas Sharma

2. Composing the Story

Just as an artist draws on his blank canvas, think about how will you compose within your viewfinder. Are you going to show the surrounding or just a blank background? Again, this will be dictated by what you want to show in your portrait.

Portrait by Vikas Sharma
Portrait by Vikas Sharma

3. No Talking at the Back

The strongest portraits are the ones, which emphasise the subject by using a simple blank background. Keep things simple, unless there is something really exciting in the background that complements the story. If you are unable to control the background due to the limitation of a studio, use a shallow depth of field to blur out the background.

Portrait by Vikas Sharma
Portrait by Vikas Sharma

4. Light-up Your Thoughts

While this is an infinite subject in itself and the most important one too, keep it simple. Keep it soft. Look at how great artists like Rembrandt have played with it. Think about what you want to achieve. Will it be flat? Is it low key? Or high key? Will, it has the dimension or will it have drama? Will it be warm or cold? Or perhaps a combination of all these. Whatever you decide make sure the picture is about the subject and not your lighting talent.

5. The subject of the Discussion

Know your subject, make them comfortable. They should enjoy and have fun. Nervous or uncomfortable subjects don’t make good portraits. Don’t even show them a camera unless you know they are ready for the picture. If possible meet the subject in an informal setting before the day of the planned shoot. Get to know them and listen to their stories. It will give you ideas on what kind of portrait you want to shoot.

Also if you are a beginner, then make sure to:

a) Invest in a good portrait lens

– 60mm to 135mm is a good focal length range.
– Get a fast lens with the aperture of 2.8.

b) Pre-plan on lighting

– Be ready with a reflector if you are shooting outdoors.

c) Shoot a million pictures

– You definitely can with a digital camera.
– Try different angles, get high or down low.
– Focus on the eyes.

d) Use an aperture setting

– Between 1.4 to 8, depending on the lens.

e) Always shoot camera raw

– Do not apply any in-camera filters like contrast, saturation etc.
– Keep all those things for postproduction in Photoshop.

f) Learn Photoshop

– It’s your darkroom of the digital age. Commercial images today are 30% photography and 70% Photoshop.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Avinash Jai Singh
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Avinash Jai Singh, on a spiritual journey with his art that he believes can challenge one’s preconceived notions; Avinash Jai Singh is a multi-discipline artist and a commercial photographer. He is an illustrator whose art invokes curiosity and the hunger for exploration.


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Aakash Ramesh
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Aakash Ramesh is a Chennai based artist, specialising in pencil portraits.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

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Vikas Sharma
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Vikas Sharma is a self taught photographer and digital retouching artist based in New York. He has worked with and for major Indian and American advertising companies for over ten years.


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We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

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