Self portrait in pencil


Sketch based on my passport photo.  Originally I’d just meant to get basic shapes in to try inking over, since that’s something I need a lot more practice with, but I ended up digging in a little bit with pencil.

I cam out looking more like Alan Ruck than I’d meant to; something in the set of the mouth and the long face.  Like Cameron Frye scraggled up for a bohemian Ferris Beuller sequel.

This is in a 5×5 inch notebook, drawing while holding the notebook with my left hand and looking at computer screen for reference.

I’m not unhappy with it as a drawing per se but as always happens with portraiture I’m unhappy with how it fails to feel like I got the key proportions right.  Working from my own face makes this worse in some ways because I’m fighting not just my eyeball take on subject vs. portrait but also some deeply wired self-identification stuff.

Here’s the actual photo, for reference:

passport photo

A bunch of little misproportions and changes in angle sneak in there and accumulate in a way that prompts all that “well but that’s not really quite me, is it?” feeling — everything a little too thin, neck too long, details of the eyes not quite right.

It’s the sort of thing people should practice and practice and practice to get better at, which is something I have trouble doing, and so I come back around to stuff cyclically and manage incremental accumulations in skill while ending up frustrated that it’s not accumulating faster or more holistically.

Takeaway is “draw more”, but there’s taking it away and then there’s actually doing it.

Author: Josh Millard

I manage and help moderate the community website MetaFilter, where I go by "cortex"; in my spare time I get up to all sorts of creative nerdery on the internet and in Portland, Oregon.

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