Illustration Master Course – Ep. 3: PORTRAITS

Hey guys, welcome back to the Ross Draws masterclass series. Last episode we did character design. I got to introduce the secondary main character to the Nima world, Faye. Faye, the magician. I love her so much. We got to learn about the fundamentals of character design, designing from a story, shape design, and I get to carry some of those key concepts over to this episode where we're gonna learn about Portraits. Yeah, everyone that knows me, knows I love portraits. There's so many cool things you can do with them. Color, light, structure, creating a mood board, and so much more. So yeah, let's jump right into it. Portraits! Why do we love drawing portraits so much? Why do photographers love take picture of faces? Why aren't there a lot of portrait paintings of my feet? I don't know, but the answer is character. We are so drawn to character and we're so drawn to emotion and we want to capture that as much as possible That's one of the earliest things we draw as a kid. The eyes, and the head, and the hair, and stuff like that. And nine times out of ten, the focal point are the eyes. The eyes emit so much emotion, so much mystery, sadness, happiness. The face is just so impactful and there's so many ways you can tell a story. There's a saying, right? The eyes are the windows to the soul. So everybody look into Milo's eyes. Oh, he's so cute. There's so much story. Milo. What's the story of your face? Milo, look at everybody. I love you Milo. I love portraits because there's so many things you can do with them through lighting, through color, through texture, through mood. Today, we'll be painting a portrait of Faye and I'm gonna bring you through the process on stuff I'm thinking about to try to capture her character. And to get started, I love this step, I've done it in school hundreds of times, and it's with the mood board. Yeah, this is a mood board that we've assembled to inspire our portrait today. In school, I've had to create a bunch of these for almost every project. Usually it's just a collection of images that inspires you to help set the mood and help to get started. Let's grab a quick tour. First, we have Faye. Oooo. Yeah. And then, these are some images that really inspire me These evoke the mood that I'm going for something kind of out of this world, something elegant. I have a lot of her colors right here. We can see the cyan, teal. We can see the pinks and we can see the whites. Your board can be anything. Anything that inspires you. Anything that you feel like your portrait or piece can evoke. A good rule of thumb is try not to include too many artwork that can probably influence the style of your piece. This is mainly for inspiration. If you have art styles that really inspire you and you want to try to capture the essence, throw it in the mood board. And of course, we have reference of faces. Yeah, this is so important and there's a misconception that everything has to be thought of on your own. Photographs and anatomy is here to help us, and the truth is nothing is completely new. Everything is thought up and remixed by your own story. You take inspirations and you take different kinds of art styles and mediums and you put it together, and create work that's uniquely your own. I've portraits with braids here, you know the lighting. And I have one of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargent. Look at this, amazing. I'm definitely trying to capture some of his strokes and some of his technique over here. If I ever get stuck I'm gonna look over to this board to help me get inspired and help me get unstuck. And this is so useful for any artist when they're creating. A lot of art blocks happen when we're so trapped inside our own cage and we just need to get out of that cage and kind of look at something that inspires us to help move us along. I'm gonna have this on my other screen throughout this episode while I create my portraits. So let's put you over here So if I ever get stuck on this portrait and I just need an idea, or something new, I can simply just look over here. And I'm like, wow, look at all this amazingness over here. So this is our setup. Usually, before we get started, I would do a bunch of composition to explore the gesture and the mood. We'll probably cover that in depth in the next episode, when we're doing environments. For this one, I have a pretty clear idea about what I'm gonna do so I'm just gonna jump right into the sketch. I'm probably gonna use her as the anchor. This captures a lot of Faye and I am going to base the preliminary sketches off of her. So let's do it. Well, her head looks like a circle and She has ears. Oh and of course eyes, and a mouth. And that's how you make your portraits. I'll see you guys later So, I would probably break this up into simple shapes, to help me get started. Just remember that you're just using this purely for the anchor, purely for the starting point. And then you're going to try to capture your character within this. So right now, I'm just looking at this and look at the lighting. This is such a beautiful lighting and three-quarter lighting is super popular. And you can see, that there's a shadow shape right here, there's a shadow shape right here, and there's a shadow shape right here. And so I'm trying to capture that. And one important thing that I learned tremendously when creating portraits or painting in general, is that the lighting is always directional. It's very linear. For example, you have your light source over here, and it's shining a light that way, and all the angles of these shadow shapes are pointed this way. Yeah, so right now you see that I've broken it down into basic light shapes, basic shadow shapes, and I'm definitely trying to capture that. All I'm trying to do here is to try to capture that angle. The angle of the eyebrow. And I know she has a braid. You remember last episode, when I was talking about building your characters? We talked about Faye's hair was such a key feature in her character design. And so I'm trying to definitely show that here. And I know I definitely want to feature her earring as well. And so I'm gonna really pop that out Yeah, and that's a really good practice when you're making characters, you understand what makes them, them. You understand the key features you want to feature and then you build your portrait from that. Since Faye is more edgy and probably gonna have a sharper eyebrow like that. She has a little more attitude. I think it looks great so far, but you don't want to commit too much right now because you're still building your portrait from the ground up and the foundation is the most important part. And so what I would do here, personally, is I would kind of drop my sketch really lightly and work on the drawing again. Because if your structure is off, then the end product is gonna be loose and wonky, and you want to make sure that you have a really solid foundation before you commit further. And so I'm just gonna try to refine my drawing here. And this is gonna help you serve as the structure and template, for when you add all your colors, and your values in. This is gonna hold the painting in place. So I feel like this is a great refined drawing, versus from this right here. And so I would probably combine both of them like this, like a medium, so we get the best of both worlds. It's a great foundation to lay all of your colors on, so yeah, let's move on to the next step. I'm gonna make a new layer and kind of just glaze a wash over it. And I'm using this on the multiply layer. We're washing the painting before we actually lay everything on top. And a lot of old masters do this. They usually have a a wash of a burnt Sienna A very popular technique back in the days, kind of replicating that technique. I'm gonna show you another technique real quick too. A lot of the times we're pretty confident about where we're at here. And so we would just make a selection So let's fill this in. I have a clean shape to work with. And this is usually my usual method when I kind of have a direction of where I'm going and I'm pretty confident that these are the shapes The really cool thing about this, is you can be extremely experimental with this. Testing out lighting and shading. Let's try some things. Yeah, I'm gonna try some gradient shadow stuff. Ooh That's nice The airbrush is absolutely amazing and people are scared of using an airbrush because it's so It's so digital and it can look pretty ugly. But luckily we have our shape in place And so, every decision that we make, it's like a structured chaos. Also I'm trying to implement a little color dodge right now. It's kind of early, but I feel like this could use a little bit of that. And so just right on the nose. Ooo, look at that. That's gorgeous. Something super simple, don't blow it out. This is still our foundational structure. So I'm just gonna put a little bit of color dodge there. Awesome, let's uh, let's put in our cape Hillier Yeah, I'm always referring back to my mood board These are the kind of colors that I picked. The pink, and the light blue, and the light cyans, and so I'm trying to play with the vibrancy with warms and cools I also have these two references right here to kind of help guide me as well. The braids and the soft lighting. I'm trying to kind of understand how that wraps around her neck and trying to imitate that. Yeah, so this is the stage we're at now. I brought my inspiration over to help me more. You can tell that I'm being very slow and conscious about building up the layers. I want each layer to kind of breathe through and develop and build within one another. And I think it's ready for some dark accents. We've been kind of molding this clay for a while But it's time to kind of really dig in there and make some kind of dark accents to make things pop. I would kind of refer back to my reference to understand where to place your dark accents. Right here is a nice opportunity. Ooo. That's nice This is also a fun fact, you know these dark accents are actually lines you draw in cartoons and anime. You know in anime, where you're like drawing these type of eyes, like that. These are just the dark accents of things you see in real life Artists are always trying to simplify things and in anime we're just drawing the lines of the dark accents. Awesome, it's looking great so far. Before, and after. And that's usually a great thing, you know, you want to pop your paintings refined edges and features. And of course, you know, there are highlights like Ooo we're gonna save that though, that's usually the juiciest part of the painting is when you add your highlights, so we're gonna wait. Throughout this whole process I've used two brushes People think the more brushes you have the better and that's definitely a misconception. So far, I've used an airbrush. To kind of get me started. And also a round brush and that's basically all I needed it to do this. But what I love about painting skin is if you set your round brush with a slight softness. And so in brush settings you turn down the hardness, and it becomes a little softer. And that helps me blend skin really nicely, like that. Yeah, this is all done with a round brush, with the hardness down a little bit. And right now you can see that the sun is just blasting, on my face, on the table. And yeah, I'm just gonna wait for the sun to set and then we'll continue filming. Hey guys, welcome back and the sun is finally setting, and throughout the rest of the video you might see it gradually get darker. But this is the progress of our painting so far Coming back with a fresh eye and that's something you should practice. When you've been working it for a while you should take a break, take a step back, and then come back to it with the fresh eye to see all the mistakes. Another thing you can try, and people are really scared of this, but it's a very good practice to flip your canvas. So, I'll flip it real quick. Flipping your canvas helps you see the mistakes that you wouldn't normally see. There are definitely times when I flip this and it completely looks like a different picture, and I start to hate it. But this one looks all right. Let's flip it back real quick. One technique that's really good when you're trying to make portraits, is vignetting your portrait and focusing on the focal point. You should always think about this as the sky. There's always a nice gradation of colors From the sun, through the clouds, and there's always going to be a spectrum. Really good practice is to include some of the sky color inside your subject. And that's what they call, global illumination. We're illuminated globally. And so I'm gonna take some of the sky color and Kind of dab it a little bit, inside her skin. Skin is so complex and is lit by like a million things Putting some of that sky color inside your subject can really boost its believably. And, I think it's time for some highlights! Yes, highlights, one of my favorite part in painting because it's like the juiciest little marks that you can make on portraits. Don't just try to add highlights for the sake of highlights, try to understand where the light is coming from. And you can see that the lighting comes from that way And so, this shine is gonna be on this side of the eye and a little right there. Ooh That's pretty. And then on the nose, like that. Oh I love this part. Look at that. It simply just pops everything out more, freakin love it. I'm gonna do some really cool hair ones real quick. Wow, look at that. Okay, you ready? Before and after, before and after. Yeah, you can see that this highlight step really helps bring the painting forward, punching out the juiciness. You know, the detail in the vibrancy and it really makes it good looking. Look at that. Basically is finished roughly, but we need to add some appeal. Some juice, and some vibrancy, and like really cool textured stuff. Over the years I've created a folder of painting assets that I can use with my paintings. Has really cool stuff like Galaxies and stars. I got stuff from NASA So if you haven't started this folder yet, make sure you do so. I just really love this kind of super nova kind of star explosion that was captured. Put it inside my design, like that. And then I'm gonna set the mode to either lighten or screen, but let's try screen. Ooh You can tell instantly that this adds a completely new mood and all we're trying to do right now, is see the potential. What it could be, you know we were stuck on this for so long that we never even considered her kind of floating in the star with the supernova. Let's have her underwater with these fishes. Now she's underwater. No, let's not do that. Ooo. That's kind of cool. Now she's like in an old Japanese masters painting, check that out. Yeah the point here is to kind of shock your system again and give you some inspiration, and give you a new direction to go, because we are always exploring, we are always experimenting, and we're never settling. You know what I always gravitated toward is stars in the sky and stuff. Yeah, let me just refine this a little more and we'll wrap it up. Yeah, so here's our painting. This is Faye. I think it looks great. Yeah, we're featuring her hair, this really cool earring. We have these eye tattoos. Yeah, and we're at the stage. We're not done yet We're still gonna see what works the best for us So what I would do is go to image, adjustment, and color balance. And I'm gonna play with the colors. So we have our color balance box and we can change our shadows, we can change our mid-tones, and we change our highlights. The shadows are a little more bluer. Oh. That's kind of cool. Maybe bluer highlights. Whoa. More bluer, you know, it kind of sets the mood, blues and purples, really nice. Wow, that's kind of awesome. Look, before, and after. Yeah, the really cool thing about color balance is it grades your image and it makes it more cohesive. So you can have all your shadows as cool, you can have all your light as warm. So let's just say we finish, and this is our final, final painting and we're about to publish this, but a lot of you guys want to sell your work and there's an extra step that I swear by, that makes my painting look awesome. And that's with high pass. And so what high pass does, is makes the clarity a lot better and it looks beautiful when you print it. So what I would do is make a complete copy of your painting. So we would go in filter, other, and high pass. Nice. And then you have something like this. And make it super EXTREME so you guys see what I'm talking about, like that. Change it to soft light. There we go. So this is before, and after. And we want to tone this down, like that. And what it does, it makes all the lines crisper, you know, makes all the edges sharper and when you print it really, really shows. Hey guys, I just went ahead and spent a few hours to really refine this thing and this is the final product. Ready? One, two, three. Oh! It's Faye! Check it out. I just really kind of experimented. She has spirit powers so there's electric, fused into ice, fused into fire. And I just went ahead and really kind of dug in and refined this thing. You know, things are a lot clearer. All this is just rendering Hours of rendering. And the most important part about what I'm trying to teach you is the fundamentals and the design. We started from the mood board and we got our reference, you know we were inspired, and then we made the drawing, refined it, and slowly but surely, we brought to life. I hope you guys liked it and let's do a quick recap. Buddy! Buddy, I see your soul. Let me look into your eyes. Let me look into your eyes. Wow. It's so beautiful Hey guys, welcome back. I hope you enjoyed the episode. Oh, man. I just love painting portraits They're so much fun. And I hope you guys learned a lot from it. Keep in mind that the most important thing when you're creating portraits, is to capture character. Yes, capture their essence. If your foundation and attention is strong it will definitely carry through to the end product. And the next episode we'll be doing Landscapes. Yes! Landscapes, finally. Oh my god. I haven't done many landscapes on the channel so I'm really excited to create one with you guys. Yeah, we'll be following Faye on her journey to a location in Nima's world. All I've been showing are characters and I finally get to show a small slice of Nima's world. And this videos question is, growing up, what is the first thing you remember that you loved to draw? Maybe a house, you know? We all drew little houses, and trees, and suns. Or maybe a face. James, What do you remember you love drawing? [James] Ichigo, from Bleach. Ichigo from Bleach, very cool. I remember Sailor Moon, and Power Rangers, and Pikachu. Let me know what you remember you love drawing in the comments below. There might be a longer wait from now and the next episode of the master class series. But just practice your characters, practice your portraits, and I'll see you guys next time when we're doing landscapes. Don't forget to subscribe, and remember, every day is a color dodge day.

40 thoughts on “Illustration Master Course – Ep. 3: PORTRAITS”

  1. (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ WOOH EPISODE 3! Thanks for all the love so far for the Master Course series. Hope you guys learn a lot about attacking portraits and get inspired to create your own. I’m glad I am given this opportunity to provide quality education for free! ❤️

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    Hope you guys dig the portrait, I thought it came out super well! I’ll see you on the next Master Course episode where we’ll be learning LANDSCAPES 🌿

  2. Random input: too many sound effects! They detract from the listening experience. But a great and informative video, nonetheless.

  3. I just came across your work and videos today and I am so glad that I have. You radiate such positive energy that really makes me want to just draw as much as I can. The fact that you're releasing such a useful series free of charge is incredible and shows how thoughtful you are of artists who need this guidance! Thank you very much for uploading these!

  4. I have visited your website to check out your courses but I'm not actually sure what they're for? Do you teach digital painting or? Sorry for sounding naive lol

  5. Thank you for this series. Your energy makes me really inspired and driven. You really are gifted in teaching! Thanks again! I cant wait to use your lessons to improve my work!

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  10. I remember one of the first things I'd draw was Pokemon. I made my own Pokemon called "Zimu". It had one evolution called "Zimulan". It looked like a Spikey dog/fox. Weirdly enough, when Zorua and Zoroark came out, I thought it looked like my childhood Pokemon with much better design.

  11. Man I really like your tutorials, they really show the complete process involved with doing something and don’t just focus on the drawing itself but also shows everything else that can help you improve your art. You are a great teacher!

  12. Fuck you you always appear whenever i am in desperate help with a certain subject in art and it is very helpful.

  13. Hey dear Ross! Im a very silent watcher and bow infront of you for your skill! Im a 3d artist, but 2d is still a hard challenge for me XD But I want to improve and your videos are helping me a LOT! I would be very interested in a hair-course, too! Do you intend on doing a hair-master course as well? 🙂 The most sweetest regards!

  14. So blessed to have this amazing tutorial. Thank you! Your voice is so nice, it reminds me a bit of Michael Scott haha

  15. When I was little I used to begin to draw 1 bicycle with a person on, but then attach more bicycles to it, with multiple levels, to create a sort of SUPER bike xD. I remember feeling super cosy and happy, because there were so many bikes and carriages and people and it just looked so fun to me…. ya :p I was about 8 then.

  16. Portrait Masterclass
    – Capture Character
    2:02 Mood Boards
    – Used for inspiration: Colours, Feel…
    – Using too much artwork here can influence your portrait style
    2:57 Face references
    – Anatomy
    – Prevent Art-block
    4:10 Compositions to explore gesture

    4:44 Anchor – Shapes
    5:11 Shadow shapes and lighting
    5:35 Light sources cast linear reflection
    6:40 Build portrait from “The Thing”

    7:39 Drop sketch opacity – Create a really solid foundation before drawing further
    – Structure & Template (Holding the painting in place)
    8:33 Combining both templates to create a medium (best of both worlds)
    – Foundation to lay all of your colours on

    8:45 ‘Multiply’ Layer Glaze/Wash over the drawing with colour
    9:15 Clean colour selection (Alternative)
    – Experiment with Lighting and shading using the base colour as tone
    ~Airbrush (structured chaos)
    10:10 Colour dodge?

    11:55 Dark Accents

    13:19 Brush use: Airbrush + Roundbrush
    – Roundbrush setting: Turn Down Hardness ~ Blending Skin

    14:29 Flip your canvas: See mistakes

    14:48 Focal point

    14:56 Global Illumination: incorporation of some of the Sky/atmosphere onto your subject

    15:42 Highlights

    16:46 Adding Vibrancy/Texture
    – The painting assets folder
    – Shock your system and get some new inspiration

    18:29 Colour Balance (Image -> Adjustments -> Colour balance)
    – Play with the colours
    – Change Shadows, Midtones, Highlights

    19:10 Finally: High Pass
    – Improves Clarity when printed
    – Create a complete copy of your painting
    – Filter -> Other -> High pass
    – Makes lines crisper and sharper

    20:03 Refining + Rendering results
    20:45 Recap

  17. I kept seeing people post about this online, and thought another artist had started charging their fans for lessons (not that that is always a bad thing!), but then I learned it was free! This is amazing!

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