Dramatic Expressions & Tone

If you look at a lot of my portrait illustrations, it is clear that I LOVE drawing in black ink (read this old post on why).


 A lack of colour does not mean a lack of detail.

As an illustrator still in education, there are many techniques I have encountered to help with my drawing skills but I have learnt how to adapt them towards my own personal approach.

What I use/do: suitable equipment, patience, a good reference, squinting, bold, iconic, mixture of realistic but animated detail to create striking illustrations.


-I draw a very light, rough outline of the subject and mark where their major facial features should be placed. Once I feel I have achieved a perfect shape that is representative of what I am trying to draw, I start on the tones to form the illustration.

-Creating the base skin colour. Starting with the lightest areas, excluding the white sections, I begin to lightly fill in those areas normally using a graphite pencil. I make sure I do not shade in too hard but evenly.

-Now using tortillion stumps, I blend the shaded areas to smooth out my mark making.

-After that, I proceed to add more shading to the darker areas using my pigment liners as well as my graphite pencils to define the facial structure whilst continuously analysing the image on a whole to check that I am on the right track.

-I then refine these lines.

-The more intricate features are then added or erased etc until I am satisfied with my illustration.

Ultimately, it took me a while to get into this routine and find out what works best for me. I now know approximately how long it takes me to draw different types of illustrations which is useful for planning my day or discussing time scales with clients.


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