Posing your subject surrounded by a few props can add much attention, dimension, and appeal to a portrait and goes a long way to describing your model. A prop can add appreciably to the composition of the portrait.
Drawing a portrait with a prop, such as a hat or even ear muffs, requires you to above all pay heed to the complete arabesque.
Quite often the novice artist will be tempted to approach a prop as a separate entity or an afterthought so that rather than complimenting and blending in a supporting function with the subjects face, it looks artificial and overwhelms the model or is incorrectly proportioned or drawn.
In this expose you will learn the expert approach to rendering a prop item that frames the center of interest even with a supporting entity that is bigger than the face.
First, the presence of a prop does not change the approach to sketching the pencil portrait. As with sketching any other portrait, you should employ all your usual fundamental knowledge and apply them throughout the normal processes of your sketching effort.
So as always, you start with the arabesque which in the case where the head and the supporting element overlap will be a construct which is a complete arabesque that encompasses not only the shape and proportions of the skull but also of the contour of the supporting element where it overlaps with the skull.
In the context of the presence of a supporting entity that overlaps with the skull, the construct becomes of crucial significance. It helps a lot with the maintenance of cohesion. If you do not render from the reference of a construct, the skull and the prop will appear as separate structures.
While you work through the succeeding stages of your portrait rendering (proportions, landmarks, blocking-in, blending, etc.) you should constantly be aware of the fact that your prop item should not overwhelm the face of your subject.
The face of your subject should remain the primary focus. Your drawing should not turn into a still life of your supporting item that also happens to show a persons face in the background.
One trick that can help you with understating of the prop element is to only render the merest of details inside the supporting item. Another one is to soften the values of the prop element but only if it this appropriate in the context of the overall intent of your sketch.
Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining the cohesion between your subject and the prop item. That is why it is significant that you render from the construct which already links the subject and your prop element as one overall object. Of course, this also implies that you do the toning in a similar spirit and not overdo the lines and values that separate the model and the supporting element.
So, in closing, the key considerations when including supporting entities in your sketch are to make sure that the arabesque covers the entire outline of the skull and the props entities.
In addition, be sure that at all times you keep in mind that the supporting items should never become the focus of your drawing. If you stick to these guidelines, the use of supporting elements should never become a problem for you.
Do you want to learn the secrets of pencil portrait sketching? Download my brand new free pencil portrait drawing tutorial here: pencil portrait tutorial.
Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and skilled drawing teacher. See his work at pencil portraits>a.
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