Today’s submission is a really fun fan art piece by Artist Amanda. You can find her over on Deviant art with the user name AmandaM55. She has completed this drawing with markers and colored pencil. Your drawing is quite accurate on this one! There are a few areas a tiny bit off, but not by much at all! You’ve done a great job on the shading and detail too! That stubble on his face, WOW you did an awesome job!!

Amanda said something in her submission that I think we can all relate to, “When I look at my drawing by itself I feel pretty good about it, but when I see it next to  my reference photo, it looks pretty crappy.”

This is pretty normal and actually a good thing in my opinion. I feel like this with just about every single thing I paint. That won’t really ever go away if you’re constantly striving to improve. After you’ve taken the time to compare your work with the reference and decide where you want to improve next time, put that reference photo away and let yourself feel proud of what you’ve created!!

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Taking a look at some things we can adjust to improve on this piece, my main tip is for your shading. You’ve left anywhere that is lighter silver or white much lighter than you want. Looking at your reference photo you can see how much darker you can go on many of these values. Even the whites of the eyes shouldn’t actually be white.

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Look at that helm! You can go SOOOOO much darker on those colors and it will look much more realistic. The skin tones can also be darkened quite a bit. One tip I have is to avoid making the skin tone and hair color too similar. You’ve used the same colors for both, I would move towards more of a pink/peach tone for the skin from the orange tones you have now. I don’t mean to go crazy with the difference in color, but some variation would be good.

Next, for the metal on his arm and cloak, notice how on the reference photo blues, greys and browns were added into the silver (or reds of the cloak), It’s not just one base color then black and white. It’s LOTS of colors. It’s picking up the colors around it which both give it more depth and make it look more realistic. You’ve got a great base, just work a bit more on some varying values and shades.

You said you have a lot of trouble with hair. With hair you want to look at all the clumps and abstract shapes. Don’t think “I’m drawing hair!” Instead, copy your shadows and highlights. Break the hair up into one small section, like one square inch at a time and copy your reference photo. Working upside down can really help with this. Hair is one of those things that we always think “I know what hair looks like” but we really don’t. Turn your work upside down to trick your brain into seeing the actual shapes, shadows and highlights. Don’t try to draw out each individual strand or it will come out stringy and stiff.

You have really done a great job! Your accuracy in the drawing, your shading, you’re off to an amazing start with portraits!!