Thursday, 24 March 2016

Wise Old Uncle

At the beginning of February the Wise Old Uncle of the South West commissioned me to draw him for use on social media and the like. I really enjoyed making the drawing, and thought I'd use it as a way of showing the processes I go through when doing a portrait, as it made myself more aware of them too. Sure, I draw the thing with pencils by lamplight, but how I present illustrations digitally has become second nature and is an increasingly important aspect of the work itself, yet something I rarely acknowledge or demonstrate. Firstly, if the drawing is bigger than A4 I only have the capacity to scan it in sections, meaning there are lots of headless illustrations in my folders.

Once the subject is stitched back together, it's time to counteract the fact that my scanner has sucked a lot of joy out of the image. I would describe my process of editing as bringing the drawing back to life, in particular darkening dark areas and enhancing colour, to that of the original sketch and beyond. I think repeated practice on this has rendered it easier over time, as maintaining the hand drawn aesthetic has always been a challenge. I don't tend to add any colour digitally here, but do optimise the image using curves, levels and vibrance to make it pop. Maybe with a better scanner the difference wouldn't be so marked, but this process reveals the full range of colours I've put into the original drawing, and presents them in a way that cannot be overlooked on a digital stage.

More recently I've taken to playing around with different backgrounds by adding digital colour, such as with my Harnaam Kaur portrait, as I think this is a really effective device for setting the mood of a piece and making a complete visual on screen. With this portrait I wanted to capture Matt's larger than life bold personality and make the eye work hard with a brazen yellow. This is definitely something I'd like to develop more though, such as using different papers, textures or washes to add in as part of the original work whilst still making it look contemporary.

Thanks for the fun, Matt. Disconcertingly, you can also check his face out at, if you wish.

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