So last week I received a request (via Instagram) which was both challenging and rewarding – nope nothing to do with parenting or teaching despite the adjective use. 

I knew the drawing was going to be difficult for a number of reasons:

  1. I had never seen the subjects of the drawing before – I like to feel connected to my drawings, which is why I nearly always draw people I’ve met, admire or feel like I’ve met, for whatever reason.  
  2. I had never spoken to the person requesting the art piece before – this might not sound like a big deal but it basically just meant that I didn’t have much to go on, other than the photos that were in front of me. Which brings me to my next issue.
  3. Source quality – The quality of the photos provided was close to awful. This was through no fault of my Instagram-friend, the photos were just old. And blurry. I won’t be sharing the original photos, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
  4. Composition change – I was given two separate photos and asked to put the two subjects (husband and wife) together. Separate as in completely different positions, locations, lighting etc. SEPARATE
  5. Sentimentality – Definitely the hardest one of all.  I was asked to do the portrait, to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the death of my Instagram friend’s parents. When I found this out, I almost wished I hadn’t because it suddenly felt like a lot of pressure to pull off a decent likeness from two blurry photos. 

I agreed to give it a go 😀 

Idrawing-someone-i-don't-know-outlinenitial outlining:drawing-someone-i-don't-know-features

I started out by outlining the two subjects of the picture – and working out how to make them fit together from two completely different photographs!

After trying out a few different ideas, I decided to go with the safest/easiest option of adding an imagined arm for the woman. 

Tip: Remember to lightly rub out the pencil lines of a drawing outline before you make a start with the coloured pencil.

I’ve made the mistake of not doing this before and you can almost always see the original HB pencil lines coming through the colours. 

drawing-someone-i-don't-know-skin Adding colour (the best bit):

I used a mixture of browns, yellows, oranges and even greens for the skin tone. Again, due to the poor quality of the photographs, it was quite difficult to determine lighting etc but I tried to keep everything as consistent as possible. drawing-someone-i-don't-know-skin-tone

The picture definitely started to come to life once I began to add colour and it didn’t take too long from here. 

The hair was fairly to easy to portray with blacks and browns and once I’d finished the facial features, I felt like the hardest part was over.

drawing-someone-i-don't-know-hairI always lose interest when it gets to this stage – normally resulting in a 2 week lapse before resuming… But due to the sentimental importance that I mentioned before, I knew I had a much tighter schedule. 

The drawing only took me 2 days to complete, which is pretty much a record time for me as I usually like to really take my time with art. And I mean really take my time. 

Not that I’m complaining, but my Instagram friend did keep asking me when the drawing would be ready, which did mean that I was all too aware of the need to get it finished. 

Finishing touches:

I lightly filled in the clothing and adding some highlight to the hair and cheeks of both subjects – mainly using yellow pencil. Once I’d put in all of the finishing touches, I added the requested inscription (with an attempt at calligraphy) and sent it to my friend. 

She was very happy with it and has since framed it in her bedroom 🙂


Quick side-note:

I’m still planning a giveaway at the end of the month. I’ll be running a twitter poll to determine the prize so watch this space! 


Natalie x


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