Dean Finished!


Click here for a closer look.


So what exactly did I do since the last time I posted? Mostly added a lot of detail to the jacket and lightened up the collar on the right side. I brought all that area out of the deep dark I had put it in because it looked too dark against his face.

I spent time putting soft highlights and shadows in the creases and fold of his jacket. In some spots the material almost looks like leather, which is okay with me. If I could do this portrait over I would definitely would go for the look of a black leather jacket.

And last but not least I signed my name over in the right corner. So it’s done now, …mostly. 🙂


Rainy Day Drawing

It’s a cold rainy morning in Los Angeles and since I have the good luck to be home today it seemed the perfect day for a little drawing in my warm and comfy art room. And I thought I ‘d talk a little about a techniques I’m using on this Sam drawing.

I’ve darkened the shadows since the last post. I also warmed up the skin toned a bit. But mostly at this stage, I want to pass on something  I learned in an art class some years ago on how to easily get dark tones on this type of paper. As I mentioned  before, the paper is an 12 x 18  sheet of Canson mi-tienes. I’m not 100% positive but I’m pretty sure the color is Moonstone and I’m working on the smooth side which I much prefer over the textured side.

The trick is to use graded grey toned art markers to put in varying dark shades before applying the colored pencil. This is what I did for the dark shadow behind his right shoulder.  I am using an assortment of warm grey colors in 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% intensities with the warm black color as the darkest tone.

These Prismacolor markers have two tips, one broad and one fine. The broad tip is the only one I use here since the idea is to lay down covering color in fairly large areas.

I started with the warm black in the lowest portion and then graduated to the lightest markers toward the top. The idea is to work quickly laying down the darker color and then using the next lighter color to blend the edges and continue laying color while the first application is not dry yet. This gets you a fairly smooth transition of color with no obvious banding. The good thing is that even if your application of color is not so even (like mine) you can totally smooth it out when you apply the colored pencil on top.

In the above picture I have already applied black pencil over the bottom area and evened out the color here. If I was really confident I could have gone through the whole image and made a grisaille rendering with the just the markers first, but that would mean I had to have a lot of things figured out already, like where exactly the light source is coming from and how dark the whole thing is going to get. For now I would rather do it bit by bit and try to figure things out as I go.

I haven’t really used the markers on his face, just a few strokes here and there in the shadows of the hair. Again it’s mostly because I’m not sure how dark I’m going to go on his face. One more thing to mention is that I’m using the warm greys and black here because the paper color is a warm grey tone so it’s a good match. Prismacolor also has markers of graduated cool grey tones and a cool black that might match other paper tones better.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to many relaxing hours of working on this. One thing about working with colored pencil is that you can almost get this zen thing going once you’re in the flow. With your favorite music playing in  the background, building up the color with your barely-there pencil strokes, not really dwelling on fact that you need to do about a million and one more before you finish. There is not really anything else  I’d rather be doing on a rainy Monday.

Pensive Sam

Here is a new distraction to keep me from finishing the Dean portrait . Not really, I’m just tired of Dean’s face and needed a Sammy break. Actually Dean is almost done. I’m just working on adding a few more highlights to the million that are already on his jacket and then I’ll be ready to sign it. Then I can put it in the closet and not look at it in six months. Just kidding, what I actually want to do is finish it and make prints in time for the LA Supernatural con next month. That way I can get one autographed and give some away to people who would like a copy.

But back to Sam. I was thinking it would be nice to try something on plain old canson paper and so started looking through my Sam photos for something to spark my imagination. I found a great close up shot of his face, very dark and moody and thought it would be great to try it on a darker toned paper.  I lined up some other reference photos and came up with digital collage of body parts and faces that allowed me to create the sketch for this.


It’s coming out better than expected even though I broke one of my own rules by embarking on this project without having a good reference image for his face. The picture that captured my imagination is great, but unfortunately rather low res and missing some vital information like where exactly his right eye is situated and where the top of his head ends. But being forever optimistic I figured my own version could just reproduce those dark shadows and extrapolate (i.e., make a wild guess about) everything else.


I took another picture from my files that I liked for the body,…….


……… did some cutting and pasting in Photoshop, stretched and distorted things a bit and came up with my sketch.


You will quickly notice he does not have a right eye. My powers of extrapolation failed me. I was able to complete the head contour but every attempt to draw in an eye were pretty ghastly. I resolved to put in a big old dark shadow there.

The funny thing was when I started putting in the colors on the paper and working the shadows  I was able to get a much better feel for where the eye should be. I took my Sam reference and adjusted the levels down in Photoshop until I was at least able to discern some eye shaped blobs down deep in the bigger shadowy blob. This helped me feel my way to drawing in a more believable eye shape there. Who knows, if I am able to get the whole drawing as dark as I would like to, I may end up darkening the left eye out just like in the reference. But at least I now have the option to have a semi believable shadowy eye there in case I don’t.


The paper is an 18 x 12  brownish grey toned Canson paper. Since it is 12 inches wide I was able to print my sketch directly onto the paper with my large format Epson printer. I printed the line drawing in draft mode, and with the opacity down to 30% in Photoshop. It gave me a line I could clearly see but that won’t be too difficult to cover up with the colored pencils.

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