Babushka

This sketch was one that I wanted to challenge myself with the level of detail that could be achieved, so I chose a face that had plenty of character, lines, wrinkles and also the fabric of the scarf to see how different textures could be achieved.

I started on this portrait by lightly sketching out the position of each part of the face to get the proportions correct first.

I find that I like to begin with the right eye to fill in detail. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s just habit. When I start to add the detail, I take the section of the face to as much detail as possible. This then sets the tone for the rest of the face. I’ll come back to the overall face once it’s all completed to add darker tones, or highlights.

As I started working on the darker sections around the hair, I used a technique that involved drawing the light hair strands with a 2H pencil, pressing very hard on the paper to leave an indentation. Then using an eraser, rubbing out the pencil line to leave only the indent. Then shading over the section with a 8B pencil which covers the paper except for the indentations. This effect helps to show light sections of hair in detail against the dark background.

This shot shows more of the progress of the forehead and I have started on the left eye.

One of the limitations of using graphite is it’s reflection of light. In this shot you can see the sheen from the light at this particular angle. I find this takes away from the realness and depth of the picture. I began to use a charcoal pencil for the black areas from this point on to try to eliminate this shine.

With the whole face completed, I began work on the scarf.

Using the charcoal pencil, I could achieve much darker blacks which brought out the depth of the picture. This was also the first time I had done any real detail with drawing fabrics and textures other than skin. I had to concentrate on just drawing the individual shapes in the cloth instead of what the overall piece of fabric looked like.

The finished piece. I’ve entitled this ‘Babushka’ which means Grandmother or old women in Russian. A friend helped me with this title. – Pencil and charcoal on paper.

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