david carradine tribute: a portrait sketch demo

Rest in peace David Carradine.  Like Jon mentioned in his tribute sketch, we lost a huge inspiration to many and a hero to all.   I decided to work this sketch in a demo format, sketching and scanning at each stage to show the progress.   I used just simple trace with black verithin-prisma.  You will be missed…

Step 1: This initial sketch is done with basic straight lines.

(A). You start by breaking the page down with lines that extend off the page.   These lines are the dominate composition lines, that help to dictate the main shapes and force of the sketch.

(B).  Next you use Medium length lines  (built off of the extended lines from A.) to help rough some of the bigger shapes, head, hands body are usually roughly formed.

(C).  Using smaller lines, you help complete some of the rough shapes and help to begin the detail elements of the sketch.

Basic line break down

Step 2:  Using the sketch from Step 1 as an underlay, here we begin a new sketch by blocking out the basic shapes.  Circles, triangles, cross section lines and roughly blocked out lines.

Primary shape sketch w/ beginning detailsStep 3:  Using the sketch from Step 2 as an underlay, we start a new sketch using the underlay as the “framework” to hang the more gestural/ expressive line work.  Here we are looking to shape most of the final details, begin to build hierarchy and contrast in the line quality and look for value shifts.  As the building of line work continues, its important to sketch “inside” the lines…using the cross section lines as reference, you can shape areas like the cheek, nose, mouth, eyes, etc.

Shaped Linework and initial shadingStep 4:  Here we have taken the sketch from Step 3, a little further with shading, cross hatching, feathering, etc.  Using different techniques to help build in value, keeps the sketch alive and dynamic.  Working with those different uses of the pencil, you can sepreate skin from cloth, etc.   Finishing the light details on the face and hands, help to finialize the sketch.  The last few details, I like to rough in a background, to help the portrait step off the page.  Hope you can get something from this technique I was taught in a Figure Drawing/Painting class.  Enjoy!

Final Sketch

    • Amanda B.
    • June 12th, 2009

    I envy you and your perspective skills 😉

    • tim
    • June 12th, 2009

    why don’t you just draw the person.. ditch the lines and overlays.. that’s old school… new school is whats in.. what you do is grab a few markers and you sit on the sidewalks by the wharf and hook people up with sweet sketches like this in 5 mins for $20 😛

  1. Love the Old School thou! This is classic style, the teacher I had back in the day was trained by masters in Florence…so this style comes directly from him. Its all about roughing it out and progressively working to finer detail.

    Dude I hear ya thou! 3 Markers, pad of paper, sitting on the wharf, meeting all kinds of tourist! Sounds like a plan!

  2. Awwwww, geeee…thanks Amanda! 🙂

    • joncorpuz
    • June 12th, 2009

    Dom…you bastard…i hate you because of your perspective and sketching skills…

    PS Frakin awesome job…Carradine is smiling down on you Grasshopper…you should go to his website and leave your sketch on the blog if you haven’t already…what you also gotta do is a pastel and marker demo, like the one you did for me back in the day with the sharpener, but do something cool like….hmmmm Buzz Lightyear?….new project for you!…again F’kn bad ass sketchs as always Brother!

    • shawncordeiro
    • June 12th, 2009

    Well done Dom. Great tutorial as well. The way you organized the page initially into lines and quasi-shapes is really interesting.

    • alessandrocayetano
    • June 12th, 2009

    good technique with the background. it’s really crazy to see how basic things as straight lines can transform and absorb into a practically living portrait.

    i also like how you can use this technique without completely having to rely on a reference, picture, or model to be able to do the detail work.

    this is a good foundation to know and master. it can train anyone at any level. great to see this on this site.

  3. really nice ,tried and true the old school is forever………..new shool is not so new,we were doing it in high school in the 50 and 60s…….nice wooky

  4. Well done my friend. This is truly inspiring! I’m so glad…so glad!

    • Kingsley Leong
    • June 12th, 2009

    Now this is a really radical and different approach in portraiture sketching. I think it works really well especially for those who come from a different area of sketching. This does help reinforce perspective and the placement and composition of elements. I should give this technique a shot in a later drawing.

    • jefftung
    • June 15th, 2009

    Very nice tutorial Dom. To answer your question from the SF Zoo Crawl post, I’m still in Boston designing infant & juvenile products. Great blog guys, keep kickin ass.

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