A pencil portrait and what goes into it (blog marathon post 13)
This is a portrait in pencil and graphite which I completed last night. It took me 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete! It is an A3 size which means it is about 30 cms x 42 cms approximately. This is a portrait of a good friend Prashant who blogs here and regular readers will also remember that he was also chosen the chief blogger of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
I started making this last night around 10.00 p.m and just could not stop till I finished it. When I put it up on facebook this morning, delighted compliments began pouring in and one person mentioned it was a nice 'sketch'. The artist in me, could not tolerate a portrait being referred to as a mere sketch and I quickly corrected him. He said he was glad he did as he was a complete layman when it came to art and that he was happy he learnt something new.
That set me thinking. Most people would not know how many tools go into making a pencil portrait. I thought I'd click a photo of the stuff that I use and tell you about it. I usually organise this neatly into a tiny stand which has three drawers. On top are my pencils, in the second one are my blending stumps and the third has my other tools like kneaded erasers and other stuff which I will tell you about shortly. For clicking a picture I spread them out like this, so you can see easily.
You can also see the paper that I use which is really expensive. I use Bristol Board extra smooth drawing paper which is acid free and 250 gsm. ( a measurement of thickness of paper. better quality paper is thicker)
You can also see my tortillons (blending stumps) which are right on top. These are very important tools when you make a portrait in pencil or graphite or charcoal. You can see a small piece of cloth like thing which is black with graphite. This is a chamois leather piece. It is very useful to blend the graphite smoothly. You can see a larger paint brush which I use to dust away the erasing. Since it is graphite it smudges easily (after the portrait is complete I use a fixative to spray it) and I 'tidy up' my work by erasing. I don't want to blow into my drawing and so I use a brush.
You can see a white pencil like thing with a brush at the end of it. It is an eraser which can be sharpened! :) I use it to 'lift out' fine lines in my drawing.
I use a kneaded eraser too (the grey thing at the bottom left of the photo). A kneaded eraser is like clay. you can change it to any shape you want! This is particularly useful for doing fine features like eye ball.
You can see a stencil of circles which I use for getting perfect rounds for eye balls. Trick here is to know which circle to use as the slightest millimetre of difference can change the picture completely.
Then I have a very cool thing which is a battery eraser.It is again at the bottom left right next to the kneaded eraser. This is battery powered! It is amazing and erases so well. It has a little eraser that rotates at a very high speed when switched on. When it wears out, you replace the end (just like you replace blades in a shaving razor).
Pencils and graphites are considered a very difficult medium to make a portrait simply because you have to get every tone and every shade right without the use of colour and with just graphite.Most people dread working in pencils/graphite.
But me--I love it completely! :-) And I guess that shows :-)
And I bet you thought it was just a picture right? :-)
Since I got a few mails asking if I will make a portrait of them, I thought I'd add this. Yes, I do accept commissions ('order' for a portrait in layman's terms :P ) and if you are interested you can mail me for rates and other details.
Current mood video (see right or click on name of song) Starry Starry nights --Don Mc Lean
(one of my absolute favourite songs)