This week’s submission comes from artist Stephanie Erkens. You can check out more of her work over at Her goal for this graphite portrait was to make it very realistic. Great job getting your darks dark! In your submission you had said this is the first time you tried that and that it was scary, you are right, it’s always intimidating to get those darks darker but you did a great job! Your initial drawing is SO close to your reference photo as well so good job there too!

Taking a look at a few things we can adjust to improve on this even more. First, your drawing is SO close to being perfect. The thing with portraits though is if one little thing is off it will throw off everything else and can completely change how someone looks. You’re drawing skills are awesome so I have no doubt you’re going to perfect your portraits in no time, but spend a bit more time to start with getting everything just right.

When I imported your reference photo and layered it over your drawing, then outlined the reference, we can now see areas that are off. It’s minor and easy to think “meh, close enough”, but it will completely change the person’s expression and overall look if you miss those.

Next let’s look at your values. This being your first time going dark I think you did an amazing job. On future pieces go darker! When we compare one area on yours with the same area on the reference we can really see how much darker you want to go still. Another area to really watch is the neck. The neck appears to be just as close to the viewer as the face. To back that up some and give the piece more dimension, darken that up a LOT.

Next, looking at your pencil strokes, try working the pencil in smaller circles/ovals instead of the longer pencil strokes that end up showing on the paper. This will give you softer, smoother coverage!

You are off to such an amazing start, just slow down a bit, perfect the initial drawing and hype up that contrast! You are going to be so awesome!!