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Blending Blending Demonstration Tortillons

Bruce Lee
Norman Wisdom
Tommy Cooper
George Burns
Des O'Connor
Jimi Hendrix
Tom Cruise
George Robey
Matt Leblanc
Sean Connery
Lenny McClean
Ena Sharples
Mister Bean
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Paul McCartney
Terry Thomas
Jean-Luc Picard
Stan Laurel
Eric Clapton
Eric Morcambe
Ken Dodd
Humphrey Bogart
Jack Nicholson
I never entered 'Waterstones', that day, with the intention of buying a book on drawing s... I was simply going to browse through the watercolour section, as I often did. After a few minutes, I picked up a book by Lee Hammond entitled, 'How To Draw Lifelike s From Photographs'. The method shown was so simple and the results so impressive that I bought the book, there and then. At home, that evening, after reading a couple of chapters, I attempted my first portrait with what materials I had available.
The selection of drawings, above, are from the 4-5 year period that I dabbled with the pencil before moving on to other hobbies and interests... toy-making, woodturning etc. If you think you'd like to have a go at Lee's method of portraiture, then give it a try... I promise you, every drawing above is a direct result of her book.


For successful shading and blending, I've used an ordinary 0.5mm or 0.7mm mechanical pencil loaded with 2B since I started drawing... this gives me a fine line at all times without the need to constantly sharpen. These pencils are usually sold with HB leads, so be sure to purchase a pack of 2B to replace them. Unlike the wooden pencil, you can't use the side of the lead to shade large areas, instead, the shading is kept very tight and the varying tones are achieved by gradation and layering, with the pencil strokes always following the shape of your object (unlike cross hatching)....



Graphite will act very much like fingerprint powder and adhere to areas of paper where natural oils from the fingers have been deposited. To achieve smooth, silky blends, try to keep skin contact with the paper to an absolute minimum. Try resting the heel of the hand on a piece of tissue or paper to prevent unnecessary contact. NEVER try to blend graphite with the fingertips!!!...



The prospect of drawing an accurate copy probably seems rather daunting... but the grid, placed over it, has divided everything into a collection of fairly simple shapes. If you progress square by square and simply draw the contents of each one, you'll find that you should be able to draw very accurately. Your first couple of attempts may not be perfect, of course, but with just a little practise, this method will be an invaluable tool to aid you in producing lifelike s...



Erase lightly so that the previous layers show through, this gives the impression of depth to the hair. Notice how the lighter areas of these drawings change shape slightly, this is due to erasing to re-establish the highlights. The drawing on the left has just the two layers, I would probably do a third or even a fourth layer to give a more luxuriant look. Always finish by softening the outside edges with the blender...



When drawing the lashes below the eye, don't have them sprouting out of the eyeball... note the lash line. And for a more natural effect, try to avoid the spider's legs type lash but draw them in clumps. Finally, because of the many tiny blood vessels and shadows cast by the lashes themselves, the white of the eye isn't actually white... in fact, making it too white will make it appear flat and give the impression of being pasted onto the face...



A tortillon is a tightly rolled sheet of paper, the inside of which is pushed out into a pencil shape and used by pencil, pastel and charcoal artists to blend and push colour around on the drawing paper, softening edges and graduating tones. 
You may want to experiment with various types of paper, the commercial tortillons that I've come across are made from a rather loose fibre paper, similar to thin blotting paper but I've found that just about any paper will do. I make mine from ordinary copy paper straight out of my printer. Very little practice is required to produce your own homemade tortillon...



For this particular demonstration I've selected a black and white photograph of Matt Le Blanc taken from one of my daughter's magazines. A quick study of the face shows that the light is quite high and slightly to the right of the subject casting shadows beneath the brows, nose, top lip, bottom lip, chin and jawline. These shadows are actually defining the features and shape of the face. You will notice that there are no outlines around the lips, eyes or nose. This is probably the most common fault with peoples drawings, resulting in a cartoon or caricature rather than a realistic . What I hope to demonstrate is, the use of shapes and tones to produce the finished drawing...



I bought Lee Hammond's book in September 1996, took it home, read the first chapters on materials, gridding, shading and blending and then, using what materials I had, drew my first of John, a family friend. Okay, so it's a bit messy, and you can still see the initial gridding in places... but the drawing above astounded me on completion... I could actually recognise John.
At the time, I assumed that was as good as it got...