Working from an Image to completion, pt I.

So, I forgot I totally and completely dropped the ball on this one, K.

I’m combining this into a response for him, and a tutorial-esque/advice thing for the rest of you. And I’m dividing it into parts, since it’s hard to digest a ton of information at once, especially if you are going to attempt a drawing while working through this (which I completely suggest, by the way!)

Okay, to try and keep it potentially vague since I know you’re doing a project as a gift that hasn’t been given yet, I’ll try to explain the circumstances to justify SPECIFIC advice I give, while keeping it general enough to be applicable to SOME other circumstances the rest of you might find yourself in.

K sent me an image. I’m not using said image for the above stated purposes. But I found something roughly similar, did my own quick drawing and took pictures of it on an iPhone at the stated intervals. Don’t be concerned if your drawing takes you longer in some areas.

Starting image: I chose an image of one of my friends, Nick, that was posted on facebook. As you can see, the image’s contrast/saturation is a bit high, and it’s blurry (It’s a cell phone picture!). I chose this image because it had a lot of the same issues K identified as his original image having, and I needed something to send that fool for his birthday (Sometimes, I am a terrible gift-giver). Plus, a lot of people don’t have actual cameras anymore and rely on cell phone’s for photos, and might have similar issues. Or, they select their images from facebook that may have been previously edited, or just low resolution.


First off, contrast affects it in an obvious way. The higher the contrast, the darker the darks. But also, the lighter the lights. This means that some areas of your image might be “blown out” (too light to pick up any real detail information), which, depending on your style of drawing, might work better or worse. Some things you can do to try and help that (if that’s what you need) is to edit your photo in a photo editor (you don’t need Photoshop for this) by reducing contrast, and trying to reduce “Brightness”. Play around with it and see if you can pick anything up from that, if you are looking for more details. DON’T JUST TRY TO “GUESS” AT DETAIL LINES. Especially if you’re drawing an image of a friend or loved one. We think we can assume what they look like, because, after all, they are our loved ones. Or, we assume we can figure it out with our basic knowledge of anatomy and all. But I encourage you NOT to do that unless you absolutely HAVE to, and even then, especially if it’s a loved one or someone who you have access to multiple photos of, try to find another photo where they are in a similar position (front facing, 3/4 view, profile, etcetera). I really can’t stress enough how important it is to DRAW WHAT YOU SEE and not WHAT YOU ‘KNOW’ IS THERE.

Saturation affects your black and white drawing because the saturation levels could make the hue values seem more intense, and make your eye interpret them as lighter or darker. If you worry about this or are beginning and struggling with your value interpretations, feel free to switch the photo into black and white (or greyscale) before you begin shading. If you are doing a color drawing, please be aware that it can be difficult to simulate intensely saturated color values with certain types of materials.

Focus affects your drawing because it controls how specific your pencil work really can become. It’s always encouraged to work from general to specific while drawing, but the clarity and focus of your original image will have a determining say in how specific you really can get. Please take that into consideration.

Onto framing it out!


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