It’s A Wonder What A Difference Size Makes

April 15, 2015

150405_EccelstonLeft: The actual sketch and painting I made of Christopher Eccleston. I had stopped the television and was working directly with a brush pen. I knew as soon as I did the ears that I didn't get them right. Depending on how his hair is cut and his character's make up is done Eccleston's ears can add quite an interesting flair to his silhouette. (Remember I love ears.) 17 x 12 inches, Fabriano Eco Drawing paper. Gouache washes for color.

Today, something just for fun. You can go wrong in a portrait and still want to finish it up. But it might nag at you that there is an obvious fix. In the image posted today I knew when I drew the first ear I'd gone too small, but then I had a choice: go really large with the ear on our right and have a cartoonish image, or scale it back as well.

150405_EccelstonLargeEarsLeft: Second version with bigger ears. Both images were colored with gouache.

Now through the wonders of a very quick alteration in Photoshop I have the larger ear version here.

Click on both images to enlarge them on your computer. Then click back and forth between them, or set them side by side to compare them.

Even though in the second version I've gone slightly larger than the ears really are (so I've skewed it more to caricature) I think the larger ears work better to capture a likeness. (I lassoed the ears and blew them up to 122% and repositioned them. I didn't try to do any blending or knitting of the parts, this is just quick and sloppy to make a point.)

I just love that bit of negative space under his ears and next to his cheeks.

Now that it has been a couple days I can have another look with my fresh eye and attack some of the other areas that need adjustment in a new sketch. And next time I won't second guess myself when I want to go larger with the ears.

This is a quick example of how I use my editing eye. I don't beat myself up over not creating a perfect drawing, or for making the wrong decision at a critical point. Frankly if I'd been painting a full gouache painting all the pen lines would have been covered with paint and I could have "grown" the ears right on the paper with more paint.

I had too much fun doing the sketch to not enjoy it and remember it fondly, all that dripping paint that fell to the floor and in which I stepped in my stocking feet when I reached for a paper towel.

But I use the editor in me to look at what I need to work on next; things like slowing down to check relative proportions and length of nose, and the width of the top of the head in relation to the chin, and the tilt of the head, and so on.

If we don't look at these things and remind ourselves to look out for these "traps" in the future we aren't going to improve. And there is no reason the conversation between you and your editor can't be upbeat and joyful.

    • Alison A
    • April 15, 2015

    Nice… he is a great subject! I have never attempted to draw him, although he looks quite a lot like my husband so really I could just draw him…! he never wants me to though (my brother in law also looks a lot like David Tennant… one day I want to get them both to stand in front of the Police Call Box in the museum in Manchester and see what reaction that gets!) 😀

  1. Reply

    Allison, Eccleston has a great face for sketching. I forgot he was one of the more recent Dr. Whos—I watched the earliest episodes when I was a child in Australia and they were rerunning them. Tom Baker was the last I watched with any regularity, oh and Peter Davison (but that’s because I like him so much as an actor not for Dr. Who).

    Eccleston has been in so much stuff I’ve seen on Masterpiece. And on this night he was in a show I was streaming from Acorn about a Lord who allegedly killed his kid’s nanny and tried to kill his wife. Eccleston plays one of the Lord’s main friends and an instigator of events.

    I just love those ears! And depending on how he has his hair cut it can be a lot of fun! Hope you get to sketch him. And I hope you get to draw at the Police Call Box, that would be great fun!

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