Saturday, November 12, 2022

Eyeballing It


11/9/22 Bic ballpoint in Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook

I’ve been doing these crosshatched portraits – both human and critter – long enough now that it’s time to crank up the challenge level. For any kind of study like these where realism and accuracy are objectives, my habit is to take relative measurements for proportion and placement. It’s the first thing I do – block in measurements. Watching so many of France Van Stone’s crosshatching demos, however, has made me aware that she rarely seems to measure, at least in the visible way that I do. She sometimes thinks aloud about how she’s comparing where an ear is relative to an eye or mouth, but her method mostly seems like eyeballing. Surely eyeballing skills are something that we can all gain with experience and practice. So that’s what I’m doing now – eyeballing instead of measuring.

Reference photo provided by France Van Stone

I started with the purple cow shown in the post a couple of days ago. The portraits here were also done without measuring. The pug’s profile was relatively easy. I suppose one reason that resemblance is not an issue with animals is that many animals of the same breed look nearly identical and would be difficult to tell apart (although perhaps this pug’s human would be able to tell).

11/10/22 Bic ballpoint in Moleskine sketchbook

It’s the opposite with humans: Every individual is absolutely unique (even identical twins), and we instinctively learn how to distinguish one face from another. The individual features of this man are close, yet overall proportions are off enough that he doesn’t look like the same man. Perhaps the man’s son or nephew? (I made that joke with Ching when I drew her portrait: It looked somewhat like her but not exactly – perhaps a sister or another relative!)

Reference photo by Earthsworld


  1. I think the portrait is pretty good though! Maybe a younger version of the man but not his uncle 🤣

    1. Ha-ha!! Well, at least he probably wouldn't be offended. ;-)

  2. It is easier to do the animals and not have to worry so much about the resemblance. These are nice!!


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