A Year of Weekly Portraits

Roughly one year ago, I decided that the only way to get better at drawing faces was…. to draw faces–and to draw them regularly. So, beginning on January 25th of last year, I drew a portrait every week and posted each to Twitter (with the #PortraitNight hashtag) on Tuesday nights. My goal was to do this for an entire year, which as of this week I’ve accomplished. (I’ve actually done a year and a week, since I got a request for portrait #52, but wanted to wrap up with a self-portrait.)

Looking at the portraits all together now, I’d say the project had mixed results. A few of these turned out really well, a few are downright terrible, and most are just sort of OK. I’m not sure how much I really improved my ability to accurately see and draw facial likenesses, but for sure any regular drawing routine has its benefits. If I could do this project again, though, I’d make two changes:

(1) I’d branch out more as far as style and technique goes. There are a few of these where I’m trying something out of my comfort zone, but for the most part I tended to stick to my “stock” drawing tools–Pentel brush pen with digital color. I also wish that I’d pushed myself a bit more to do some of these with a far more abstracted and simplified style. I started moving that direction just slightly with the Tilda Swinton drawing, where I forced myself to do so by doing multiple iterations of the drawing, trying to simplify each time. Most of these, though, fall safely at about the ¾ mark on the old Scott McCloud “realistic-to-cartoony” scale.

(2) I wouldn’t have done so many indie/rock musicians. One of my big projects in 2011 was digitizing all of my old CDs and as a result, I think I was really in “music mode” for a lot of the year. I also read Our Band Could Be Your Life 2011 and decided to draw a musician from each chapter of that. A result of doing all these musician drawings is a preponderance of 25-40 year old white guys as subjects. Drawing on a broader group of subjects would definitely have made this a more valuable exercise.

Anyway, it was a rewarding project and I hope I’ve gotten at least a tiny bit better at drawing likenesses. Here’s a gallery of them all in chronological order. Clicking on the image will take you to the full Picasa gallery:

2 pings

  1. Punk Rock Changed Our Lives: The Ben Towle Portraits. | The Sketchcard Saloon. says:

    […] at the top of this page, along with all those that follow, were created by Ben Towle as part of his Year of Weekly Portraits project. He toiled through the 52 weeks of 2011, jamming econo on some of the best punks the world […]

  2. John Porcellino at Chapel Hill Comics (Includes Detours) « Fischer On Comix says:

    […] who reads Ben’s blog knows that he’s a music guy–note how many bands made it into his “Year of Weekly Portraits” project–so we got to Chapel Hill early so Ben could visit a CD/vinyl shop across the street from […]

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