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Tips on Achieving Likeness - portrait painting

edited June 2015 in Drawing
Good Morning Forum,
I want to be an all around great painter dabbling in different genres... I enjoy portraits so much, landscapes and seascapes, urbanscapes and still life... I love them all and want to be able to master all the different genres...

My latest attempt at a portrait was an epic fail... although the painting was well done, the values and tones matched, the person looked real... but, it wasn't a portrait of my sitter... but rather a portrait of a person that sorta kinda resembled her... I was working from a picture, my measurements seem spot on... so why is it off? and the issue is I can;t really tell where I went wrong... That was last week, this week, in a sketch book, I am giving it another try with a different sitter or person that I am trying to sketch... i'm close - close but no cigar... the portrait...its just not him.. I use the grid method - and the photograph i'm using is divided in the same way... any tips? should I just stop using the grid method and try something else?

Also, if porportions truly was my problem, how can we explain caricatures? Caricatures are almost always disproportional... they shouldn't work right?, if the proportions where that important for recognizing a face.
For example look at the great paintings of Sebastian Krüger. In most of his caricatures the proportions are completely displaced but you still won’t have any problem to identify the persons caricatured.
It seems like the relation between the size and distance of parts of the face are not that important for the recognition value of a face


  • Mark

    Search in to top right box for the word likeness. lots of stuff.

    It's a good idea if you want some specific advice to post the photo and the painting.
    We all start somewhere and the folks on DMP are supportive and helpful.

    Shadow and tonal shapes are the elements that allows us to recognize a friend in a crowded fuzzy photo. Similarly, recognition in a portrait is primarily due to the large shapes and the spatial relationships of these shapes, eventually confirmed at close range by details of eye shape and color etc.

  • I'm not sure why, but I get a better likeness using marks method of power points then I do by tracing the photo. I think with Marks method I'm putting more of myself, and what I see in the drawing. Interesting.
  • I went back with fresh eyes and really scrutinized my sketch... I made a major measurement error...after fix it the sketch was perfect... I'll start painting tomorrow :)
  • Good luck on the new painting.
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