Portraits

I like to do a lot of portrait studies in both traditional and digital media. The first image which is titled “Loretta” was a portrait study done on 18″ x 24″ toned paper using pastel pencils. I started off by taking a bunch of photographs of her with different angles and lighting set ups. Once I’ve finally decided which photo to use, I spent roughly 12 hours off and on constantly making measurements and trying to get the proportions correct. After I got all of my line art in place, I sprayed some workable fixative and started the rendering process. The other portraits were done digitally from either life, reference, or imagination.



The drawing of Loretta was a personal project so that I could practice more realism and rendering. I decided to work with pastels because it went well as a medium for blending on that specific kind of paper. Since the paper had a bit of tooth to it, I needed something that could cover it completely. I was either going to use charcoal or pastels so I decided to go with the red pastel because I felt that the color went well with that toned paper.


I used a red CarbOthello pastel pencil for the drawing and white charcoal pencil for the highlights. It was done on an 18″ x 24″ sheet of toned paper. I also used a kneaded eraser, a blending stump, and some workable fixative. The digital portraits were painted in Photoshop CC.

For the most part people liked the project. I learned a lot during the process, especially when it comes to proportions, line weight, lighting, and edges. I think the hardest part for me was to really just try and let the toned paper come out and not over do it with the pastels. As for the digital paintings I like to keep a loose and textured style yet still have control over the focal points with some rendered areas.

Tave Kem

Illustrator and designer based in California.