Photoshop portrait practice… oh, and happy new year

6 January, 2020

I fudging hate it when Christmas is over. You know people who are miserable because it’s Christmas? Well I’m the reverse. Gubmuh, hab!

The lights come down. The traffic returns. Christmas songs on the radio make way for Ed needles-in-my-fudging-ears Sheeran on perpetual repeat. Normality looms across the horizon like the thick, grey, turgid void of hopelessness that daily existence is.

And that’s just for those of us not burdened with children.

One thing I hate in particular, is the transitionary period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As the latter approaches, more losers start crawling out of the social media woodwork. So begins the spraying of fascicle, self-validating, revisionary nonsense about “How much I’ve grown this year”.

Cue neck-braking eye roll and internal vomiting.

New Year = New Me

These declarations (that no-one asked for) are invariably followed up with ill-fated, painfully trite insistences that “New Year = New Me”. They circulate with a level of predictable annual consistency, matched only by one’s absolute failure to maintain pursuit of such lofty ambitions beyond the first week of January. Every year this happens. Every -single – year. The definition of insanity, demonstrated en masse.

But worst of all, is how this period forces me to reflect on my own personal shortcomings and failings in the year that’s passed. This sucks, because I like to think I’m perfect.

Unfortunately, these few days allow life to slow down just enough for me to recognise that this isn’t 100% factual. For example, during the final days of 2019, I came to realise something shocking and life-altering about myself:

I need to draw and paint more.

That’s probably not the first issue people would advise I address. God bless my ignorance.

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How to not suck at drawing – draw more.

In recent years, I’ve really fallen behind in both my understanding and application of drawing. Painting too. Both traditional and digital. It’s a shame because quality aside, I find it quite a relaxing practice that makes me a less irritating presence to be around.

So to combat this, one of my goals for 2020 is to just do more of both.

I’m going to squeeze in practice where and when I can. Sat on the bus to work, nodding off during important meetings, keeping myself entertained while Anna tells me about her day… bollocks, she’s probably reading this… love you dear.

The aforementioned quiet, depressing days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve seemed a good time to generate some momentum that would propel me into 2020.

So I focused the following studies on form and lighting. I stuck to black and white for consistency, while introducing a new technique or brush with every illustration. I attempted to keep each illustration at no more than two and a half to three hours. I failed at this on two. They’re organised sequentially, so you may notice different things or levels of detail with each:

Who the frig are these people?

You may recognise some of the above. If you don’t, I’m putting that down to you not being up to date with people, not my lack of talent.

I chose each on the basis of seeing/experiencing their work around Christmas time. That they’ve all got faces that lend themselves to dramatic lighting is a bonus.

If you’re interested, they are as follows:

  • Henry Cavill – Under appreciated as Superman, exceeded my expectations as Geralt of Rivia and makes 99% of men look pathetic by comparison. Git.
  • Shawn Crahan – Founding member and percussionist of Slipknot. I place the blame for me being a prick squarely at his feet. Because Maggot for life. I’m 35.
  • Melina Juergens – A German photographer and actress who performed as the titular character in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – which she nailed.
  • Tessa Thompson – Badass actress whose natural glare makes me feel like I should be apologising for something.
  • Manuel Gagneux – Founder of band Zeal and Ardor. Because nothing says ‘Christmas time’ like “The riverbed will run red with the blood of the saints and the blood of the holy”.
  • Wisper – The little bugger who’s ensured I’ve not had a good night’s sleep since she joined our family a couple of months back. Frustratingly, I cannot stay angry at that face. Anna took the original photograph, obviously.

Oh and just to finish off, the epitome of all that is great in the world:

If you need any explanation as to why that particular creature is included, you’re on the wrong website.

Credit to Euan Rannachan for the original, exceptional photograph. He’s taken some wonderful photographs, so please do check them out.

Because sharks are fudging great.

Happy new year folks!