Realistic artwork - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Realistic artwork

I know there are a lot of people on here that "specialise" or "choose" to do realistic work, including me! Im sure I'm not the only one who finds it really difficult at times...

So I thought we could have a thread dedicated to tips and advice on how to create the best realistic portraits you can! I think it would be helpful for everyone to be able to share information and advice, and also have one place to come and look.

The only piece of advice I can think of right now is: remember the eyes of any animal/human are what makes or breaks the drawing!

I'm sure more experienced artists have more stuff to add
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 03:52 PM
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Hey Sniz! Cool thread idea! Well, my thing at the mo is trying to achieve realistic images, and I'm no way an experienced artist, BUT the only advice I could give would be:

Go SLOW in a drawing and 'take the time it takes'
Details are what make it more realistc (I think) so add them
Be aware of textures, light, tonal values (says me! Lol)
Be aware of the skeletal structure of the subject you are drawing.
Proportions are of course, crucial.
RESEARCH other artists
Experiment with medium
Accept constructive critiscism
Use nice contrast if possible to draw attention to the drawing
Use decent products
Find a good paper that you are comfortable using to bring out the best with your drawing.
Don't give up.

I personally work in layers and I find building up gives more depth.

Something I discovered was that mixing mediums can make drawings look more realistic. I've been using carbon, charcoal and graphite in drawings. Graphite is grey, period, and you won't get black blacks with it, and the darker you go with it, the more 'shiny' and 'reflective' it gets! Grrrr
JD Hillberry has some good info on this. He's on youtube too
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Last edited by ConfusciusWasAGreatTeachr; 05-05-2012 at 03:59 PM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 04:01 PM
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Oh yeah, and I agree with you about getting the eye right! It's the real essence of a drawing.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 09:03 PM
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Great advice both of you! Unfortunatley I don't have any advice Im just subbing ;P

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post #5 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 11:18 PM
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let's see. I think that my work is not hyper realistic in the sense that I dont' draw every hair. My best work is when I dont' try to capture every hair or detail, but try to capture the essense. Or, at least try to have that be the most important part.

What is the essense? Well, you look at a picture and you kind of half unfocus your eyes and try to see what the angles are to the eyes or mouth (if it's a face) that make THAT face unique. There will be one or two angles or lines that are the dominant feature of a human or animal's face. If you don't get that right, no amount of fine detail will capture the essense. So, I spend some time looking at the animal and try to get a handle on that. Sometimes it's very clear, other times not so. And a lot depends on the photographs.

For example, in this photo of Marlea (not her real name) the main essense is the V like shape of her eyebrows, mirrored by the V like shape of the horse's ears, her round cheeks and upward smile, and the splay of the pony's mane

Marlea and me.jpg

Marlea and me 005.jpg



The pony's head did not come out perfectly accurate, but the "feel" of the girl , in my opinion, could not be made better with more detail.
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Last edited by tinyliny; 05-05-2012 at 11:21 PM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 05:07 AM Thread Starter
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Great advice as always, Confu and Tiny
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 10:45 AM
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I agree with you tiny. If the eyes are shut, then the main focal point would obviously be the next emotional pinpointed area of the picture. I too have a drawing with the guy's eye shut, but rightly as you said, the face and the expression would then become the 'essence'.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 02:02 PM
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tinyliny: That's some of the best advice I've heard, or seen in this case.
I find whenever I try to focus too much on detail, I end running the picture.
But when I focus more on the emotion I want to portray, I get a better outcome.

Great thread by the way!!

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post #9 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 02:08 PM
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I tend to overwork my stuff and get caught up in the details. The best advice I ever got was take you time, step away from your work then come back to it with new eyes. Holding a drawing up to a mirror or taking a picture of it will also give you a fresh perspective.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 03:31 PM
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As far as porportions goes, I always look for the 'scale' of the subject. In each and every individual, there is scale of measurements that makes them look fluid and well built.

For example, with a horse- my main interest. When looking at a picture of any equine, there is a way to measure everything using only one part of it's body as the scale. This scale differs, ofcourse, with ponies and say... thoroughbreds, but any good artist will quickly be able to pick it out. With a horse, the measurement from the poll of a horse's head to the tip of its muzzle will be the same as the width of it's heart girth to withers. It's ears and muzzle will be the same size. The legs (beginning at the shoulder) will be as long as it's entire body from chest to rump, and so forth. Little details like this are what give your picture good symetry, without looking overworked.

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