Sketch of me

April 16, 2021

Charcoal Sketch of me

I’ve always heard that sketching yourself was supposed to be hard. To be honest, I didn’t find this any more or less hard than sketching anything else. I was confused until I showed it to my mom and she asked me if I used a mirror to sketch from.

A mirror? To sketch? Why in the world would anyone do that? Why not just take a picture and use that?

Perhaps it’s a right of passage, and until you’ve sketched yourself from a mirror, you cannot call yourself an artist? I dunno. Luckily, I don’t actually care if I’m called an artist. I just enjoy sketching.

This one is different from the others in that I’ve done no blending. This was, in part, due to a request from my wife. Sarah wanted me to do something a little less photo-realistic 1, something a little more sketch-like, I suppose. I opted for charcoal.

I generally start with charcoal. I like it; it’s versatile. In some sense, this is close to what my sketches would look like before I start blending them. However, in those cases, I would have stopped far before this point. Likely, some features might be a little off, shading wouldn’t be quite done, and a lot of the little detail work would be incomplete. All of those would fill out during blending.

It’s odd. Blending is easier in a lot of ways, even though the process itself takes a whole lot more time (like, days more worth of work). With blending, you can very easily “pull” the colors from surrounding areas. Because this isn’t actual charcoal, but an iPad app instead, the colors don’t ever thin out. This makes detail changes very easy. Erase, redo, then blend the edges to make it all seamless.

You cannot do that with charcoal, absent blending at least.

Instead, I found myself having to erase and redo entire portions of the sketch, just to change one small detail. Erasing meant I had to match the replacement exactly or else it would be very obvious. It can be very hard to make that work, especially in the lighter sections. It was often simpler and easier to erase that entire section of the sketch and redo all the shading so that everything matched.

To be completely candid, there is some blending in there. When I first started the sketch, before I had decided to keep it pure charcoal, I blended out the base color on the light side of the face. It was very subtle. My goal was a base tone for me to work off of and I never bothered to erase it. I am not bothered by this.

I intentionally left some parts of the sketch a little underdone, especially the top portion of the hat and the light side of the jacket. In both cases, the photo itself had a light blur. I considered replicating that, but I like the idea of leaving it just a little unfinished instead. Not sure why. Perhaps we can call it artistic license; perhaps it’s just laziness.

Overall, I like the effect. The sketch definitely looks like a charcoal sketch, which I find as appealing as my wife does. It’s also quite a bit quicker to do, and at my current stage of development, rapid sketches will likely help me improve my artistry quicker, I think.

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Sketch Album

  1. Not that my prior stuff even approached ‘photo-realistic’.