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: