Drawing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

A Thanksgiving Portrait


Painting a portrait is very fun to do.  It is an art form that some artists dedicate themselves to.  We connect with faces immediately.  Faces are captivating, and we can do a surprising amount of storytelling when we capture the true expression of a face.

In the human world, portraiture has been a popular art form since the days of ancient Egypt, where the Pharaohs, who were consider Gods amongst men, had their likenesses sculpted and painted in temples, tombs and palaces.

Did you know the most famous painting in human history is also a portrait? It is the portrait of Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Another artist who really set new standards for portraiture was Rembrandt (his full name was Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn). Rembrandt is known for his use of yellow tones and his strong sense of light and shadow.  I looked at his work carefully before painting the portrait of this turkey!

As you can see, portraits do not necessarily have to be of elves or human beings. They can also be of animals; you can draw a portrait of your pet or any other animal you like. If you draw your pet, you can work to tell the story of his personality and make it even more fun by giving him human adornments, such as glasses or a hat. I drew a grandpa turkey above. My grandpa wore glasses and smoked a pipe, so I incorporated these items into my portrait.

I started out roughly sketching the head of a turkey, then I worked in some light and dark tones to find out where I wanted my light source to come from. Afterwards, I added details to give this old turkey more character.

When painting portraits, you should decide ahead of time what kind of mood you want the portrait to have. Is it a happy portrait or a sad one?  If it’s a happy portrait, you are going to want a lot of light; if it’s a sad one, you might want to use darker colors. You can also make a portrait dramatic by using high contrasts of light and dark.

Don’t be frustrated if you cannot get the likeness down perfectly to begin with.  It can be very difficult. We will talk more about how to practice this.

(The Drawing tip Young-Elf is about drawing an elven face, but it might be useful as you learn about drawing portraits.)

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories