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Free Preview: The Art of Pointillism Portraits

Introduction and Tools

01:40
  • Overview
  • Transcript

In this illustration course, you’ll be learning how to create a highly detailed, full value scale pointillism portrait. Pointillism is the technique of using tiny dots to create value in a drawing. You’ll start the course by making a value scale from 0 (white) to 9 (black). This will help you get comfortable with the pen before you start on your portrait. Once you’ve learned how to dot from white to solid black, you’ll sketch out your portrait. You'll learn two techniques for this: freehand sketching and an easy transfer technique. Then you’ll start on your final portrait, working your way through the piece to create a sense of depth. I’ll discuss tips on how to dot in the highly detailed areas and how to cover large areas quickly. You’ll finish the course with a gorgeous pointillism portrait and a great new illustration technique.

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction and Tools

I'm Megan Eckman with Tuts+. And in this tutorial, we're gonna be learning how to create a pointillism portrait. Pointillism is the technique of using tiny dots to create a drawing. And while that might seem like a very difficult or almost impossible task, it's actually quite simple. I'll be showing you all the tips and tricks that I use and these will not only save you time. But help you really develop a new skill for your art portfolio. We'll start by making a gradation scale. This will help you get much more comfortable using the pen. And it will also show you how to make all the values from zero to nine, white to black. We'll then be sketching out our drawing on a piece of bristol paper. Which is my favorite type of paper to use with pen and ink projects. And in the end, you'll have a lovely portrait that shows off all of your new skills. In terms of supplies, you'll need a piece of bristol paper for your drawing. I'm providing you with a PDF of the gradation scale, but you'll need to print it off on card stock. I'm also giving you a black and white photo to use for reference. And you can print this on whatever paper you like. You'll then need a pencil, a white eraser and a pen. For this project, I'm using a felt tip micron that has a 05 point. It's one of my favorites and I highly recommend using it as well. So once you have all of your supplies gathered, let's get right on it and start in on our gradation scale.

2. Making a Gradation Scale

2.1 Dot in the Boxes

Before we start a pointillism portrait, we first have to get comfortable with pointillism, and that's where a gradation scale comes in handy. So I provided you with a gradation scale PDF, which you can print out on card-stock, and follow only with me as we fill in all the boxes from 0 to 9. Learning how to make all the value ranges with our pen. It's a really important tool because it not only gets you comfortable using pointillism, but it helps you see all the values in the portrait we'll be drawing later. So once you're ready to get started, let's go ahead and make our gradation scale. All right, you should have printed out your gradation scale on something thicker like card-stock paper. And now we're gonna be making our way through and inking the bottom gradation scale so that it matches the top in terms of value. So the first few boxes might not show up that well on camera because they're so light and don't have many dots in them, but I'll be showing close-up photos as we go along so that you'll be able to see them better. Plus, you'll obviously be able to see the ones that you're making. So a good way to know when you've gone dark enough with the value, so that you match the one above it, is to squint your eyes. When the value in the box below matches the value of the box above it, that means you're dark enough. So let's get started with number 1. Because 0 is pure white. So we're gonna be holding our pen, pretty much straight up and down, and lightly dotting in the box. Keeping quite a bit of space between the dots, because this is such a light value. And now I'm squinting at it, I can see there are a few spots I need to fill in a little bit darker. And there's value 1. Now we're into box number 2. So box number 2 is obviously going to be darker than number 1. One way to do it would be to do the same amount of dots that you did last time and then go through for a second round or you just increase the amount of dots as you go, in my case, left to right. By squinting again on my matches, so I'm done with number 2. Next we'll move on to box number 3. Box 3 is just gonna be darker again than number 2. So it's just going in and putting in even more dots. So some people, always ask me how much space to put in between the dots and or is the spacing even? As you get more comfortable with doing the pointillism dotting, you will find start to create a rhythm with your hand. And you will unconsciously have a space that is pretty even between them. It might take you a little bit, but in all honestly, as long as your dots aren't clustered too close together it's not gonna change the value within each box. So that looks like number 3 to me. So we'll move on and do number 4. And starting on the mid-range greys. Now we're on to box number 4. This is the start of the mid-towns for our pointillism pieces and these will be the ones that we use the most often, 4, 5 and 6, in a piece. So this is now where you're gonna start to grumble about how long it takes to fill in the box to make gray but don't worry, I'm gonna be teaching you some tricks and a few more boxes that really speed up the amount of time it takes do each box. It took them a few years to figures them out, but they really work and nobody can tell that you used them in the end, which is always a plus. So I'm just going along, dotting in my number 4, trying to keep the spacing pretty even and get a uniform value throughout the box. that when I squint, matches the value above it. And you shouldn't be able to hear your pen too much. If you're really making a racket you're pushing too hard and you might actually damage the tip. So just a nice little quiet tap. All right so there is the first of our three mid-range tones. So there's number 4. We're on box number 5 now, so again, it's gonna be darker than number 4, just adding in more dots to each little area that you color. We are now halfway through the value scale. Number 5 is about half as dark than as number 9 which is pure black. So we still aren't able to cheat at this point as I mentioned earlier. I'll show you some tips. So these next few are gonna be the longest one's to color in. And you do use this quite a bit in your drawings depending on the background in your portraits and also the skintone of the person you're drawing. You might use them even more. So it just takes a little bit of patience. The effect, though, of pointillism portraits is really stunning. And you do get quite a lot of appreciation from your viewers because they can't believe you took the time to dot it all. It can get to be a bit meditative in some cases, because your mind can just wander, and you can just keep dotting as you go. So just keep filling in your boxes. Be thankful they're only one inch by one inch. [LAUGH] Remember in art school we had to do one that was quite a bit larger than this and it took most of the class time. So I'm almost done here. Hopefully you are too. So if I squint my eyes, looks pretty uniform, just go back and do a little bit in this corner. So there is box number 5. Now we're on to box number 6, middle of our mid tone range. So, we're gonna be using these mid tones quite a bit in shadows of your pieces. At this point too, the dots are close enough that, from far away, they appear to be a solid color. And that means that it's really great to use 5, 6, and 7 values as background at this point. So you're probably getting a little bit scared at the thought of using this as a background because of the time that it will take. It does have a really nice effect though. It provides this even tone, and it goes faster than you fear it might. I promise. Especially once you get better at spacing your dots and can do it quite rapidly and evenly. Also the darker colors work much better for backgrounds in general because they don't read as individual dots like the earlier ones do. And also means for portraits, when you're doing hair, you're going to be using these values quite a bit more. And it reads more as a solid item than if you're drawing a light skinned person. The individual dot sometimes it can be so light that it looks a little odd to just see one or two dots on the nose. For the sake of this tutorial though, we're gonna be drawing. Myself and I'm quite light-skinned and light-haired. And that way your first pointillism portrait won't be nearly as labor-intensive as your later ones might be. So just filling in a few areas where I have some white spaces open. And squinting, that looks pretty even. I'm just gonna fill in a little bit more because it looks like it's about the same as a five right now. And don't worry about having to go back a few times to put another layer of dots on to push the value. You want to make sure that you can actually see the difference in your scale as you go along. So you can see I've had to put a whole second layer here. And that makes it look much darker than the 5 now. [INAUDIBLE] All right, so there is value number 6. So we're gonna move on to 7 in the next round.