Portraits Tricks&Tips, from base to sketch to color!
Hi everybody! Welcome. In this tutorial, I will illustrate to you how to create a portrait from bases, sketch, and then how to color it! Enjoy.
Head Proportions and Division
Let's start from the very basic things: how is the head divided?
We can divide the head into four basic "blocks", where the different head elements will be then placed. These sections divide into four, as said, which are:
A: The forehead. This part of the head connects with the hair, the eyebrows, and the ears.
B: This part, which connects to the forehead through the eyebrows will contain the eyes, the ears, and the nose bridge.
C: This part connects with part B through the cheekbones, and contains the nose tip and the upper lip. This part connects to D through the middle part of the lips.
D: This part will contain the jawline, the bottom lips, and the neck.
Here are some tips and tricks to get the proportions just right!
When you're happy with your proportions, you can start to think in shadows: there are many ways to improve your shadowing techniques, one of these being looking at references. They're super important and will always be very helpful.
I divide the most common shadows into this scheme for you to understand their placement right away: In between the brows and the eyes there are always a lot of shadows, for the pronunciation of the brows will cast a shadow on the upper part of the eyes.
The nose catches this shadowing partially, in fact, the nose bridge will always be lighter than the rest of the nose: the tip will always be darker, for the rest of it casts a shadow on it.
The upper lips is often darker than the bottom lip, and making this tiny difference visible will add a lot of depth to your piece. Underneath the bottom lip there's almost always a dark shadow as well, which will be cut but the lighting of the chin.
The human skin is generally oily, and therefore there's tons of light-catching within the face. The most common places to put lights are:
-The inner corner of the eyes;
-Around the nose tip and bridge;
-In the mouth corners and on the lips themselves.
-On the chin.
Here I cleared my piece and shaded the shadowing to show you how it "should" look like once you're finished with the placement! Feel free to play with your shadows until you're satisfied.
From base sketch to finished product, let's start!
Let's start with a simple shape! The egg shape. It's easy and it makes you place your head easily. I'm making a 3/4 portrait because I like them better than frontal ones, but you can do as you please! When you have your "egg-head" trace a line in the middle of it to decide where the direction of the head is.
Now let's divide our "egg-head" into the sections I showed you before: A, B, C, D.
Remember that the Ear is gonna be between the brows and the nose.
Let's create the head structure using our egg as a reference. I used a red line to show you the difference between before and after but you can use any color of your liking. Between the eye and the brow, there's gonna be a gap that goes inside from the 3/4 view. Right below that there's gonna be the cheekbone structure: you can see a little bump from the side view. It can change shape based on the facial structure.
This is what it looks like without the black base!
Drawing the face components: The Ears
Let's start by drawing the ear of our character: mine is gonna be a fantasy humanoid portrait, so I have more elvish ears than human kinds. We can divide the ear into roughly 4 parts that I highlighter with different coloring in the 4* picture. Following the tutorial-scheme I portrayed in the image, you can see how easily you can make an ear if you follow a step-by-step process.
Starting from point 1*, you can create the base shape and the contouring of the inner ear as easily as that. Remember that where the ear attaches to the face there's a tiny bump that looks like a hill.
From point 1* to point 2* you simply have to add that tiny vine-like structure. It roughly looks like a Y and it's situated in the middle-top of the ear. It connects directly with the outer part of the ear, so remember to make a tiny gap.
From point 2* to point 3* you have to create a sort of wave that goes from the outside to the inside of the ear. That's gonna create the point of shadows in the ear.
Extra: if you want to add a tiny elvish pointy ear, go ahead!
After drawing the ear I decided to turn the red into black for personal preference, but you can keep using another color if you like it more. Now we can draw the eyes! Drawing eyes is not overly-complicated, but I tried to put down my personal process. I draw the shape without anything and then add the lower and top eyelids. When they're placed, I shade them over to enhance and blend everything together. When I'm happy, I usually apply a bit of lash on the eye.
When I'm happy with my overall eye look, I add the brows! I start by making them look like a block, and then I apply tiny hair around them to make them look more realistic.
When you're happy with your overall eye look, you can go ahead and add the nose and the month! I previously make tutorials to show off how to draw and shade lips and noses! You can check them out to a better understanding of these parts of the face.
- https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/3055 https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/3055
- https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/2904 https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/articles/2904
Shading your piece
Using the previous instruction on the structure of the face you can start to add shadows to your piece. I usually prefer to shade with a black&white base, but you can go ahead and use whatever color you like more.
Here is my polished version of the piece. I took my time to shade and polish the piece until I was happy with my result. I often use real-people references when it comes to understanding shading better, and I suggest you'd do the same! Especially with realistic portraits, it's important to understand how the lighting and shadowing work on the face. Feel free to add whatever hairstyle suits your character better and we can proceed into coloring!
Adding color to your piece: skintones!
Understanding and using different skin tones is important for a good portrait: the skin warmth may depend also on the surrounding where your character is; for example, if your character is portrayed during the night the skin color will be drastically colder, with a blue undertone. On the contrary, if your chara is portrayed during a sunset, her/his skin tone will be drastically warm, with orange and red tones. The skin tones portrayed in my image are all under a warm tone. As you can see the colors tend to be more pinkish-reddish, which makes them warm.
It's important to switch betweed different colors, as you can see my palettes aren't just a darker shade of the previous one, they are slightly colder, warmer, reddish or pinkish. Feel free to choose which skin tone you thing suits best for your character, and then proceed to color the hair.
Coloring the face: warmth map.
This might be silly to look at, but it's super important. The warmth map makes you understand which parts of the face are warmer than others. The cheeks, nose, and lips area are always a lot warmer than the rest of the face. If you use a red undertone on them they will look a lot more realistic and alive than before, and will also add depth to your piece. The undereye, and lower part of the face are, on the other hand, usually "colder" than the rest of the face. There's less blood circulation, and therefore the region is not that red-toned. You can use a bluish tone to define this situation or simply don't enhance it with any color.
The rest of the face is of a middle-undertone which switches between orange and yellowish.
My trick with this is to create this exact map on top of your skintone coloration and in an OVERLY layer. Then LOWER the opacity of the layer to blend the tones with the skin.
This is what my piece looks like with the warmth layer in overly placed over it. As you can see the skin looks a lot more lively and realistic compared to the image with 4 skin tones. I also colored the sketch layer with a warm dark red to make it blend more with the piece itself.
This is my polished piece! I added shadows and lights on the hair and a couple of light points on the face itself: a quick tip for realistic eye lighting is that the eye light source follows the direction of the light itself. I added lights on the lips, eye corner, eyelids and nose as I previously showed in the lighting map during the first part of the tutorial! I hope this TIPS was helpful to you.
Best wishes and stay safe!
Have fun creating different portraits!!