Friday, July 6, 2012

The Great Facebook Photo Challenge Round 4: The Dip


It's Friday! And man oh man, is it hot here in Indiana (104 sayeth the trusty car thermometer). It's the perfect day to stay inside, watch some TV, read a book, play a video game, or, if you're me, sketch your next group of friends in the latest edition of the Great Facebook Photo Challenge!

Nick was the winner of round 3 of the challenge. When I asked him what photo I should do next, he asked me "is it narcissistic to pick a photo of yourself?". Well, yeah, a little bit (but at least it's not ONLY of himself). Nonetheless, I have not disallowed this possibility in the rules of the game thus far, so sketch him we shall.

The photo is a picture of my friends Nick and Jackie, doing a very dramatic dip to the end of a blues song at the Chicago Underground Blues Exchange (CUBE2012). Nick and Jackie are some of the newer members of the Purdue swing dance club (they're both freshmen that joined last August at the time of this writing), but for their years experience, they're some of the best.

Right then, on to the sketching!

My Sketch:

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the original photo and my attempted sketch:

Experiences and Notes:

This sketch was quite a bit of fun! Not quite as dense on the details as round 3, but certainly trickier than the relatively calm sketch proposed to me in round 2. Somewhat similar in composition and detail to the sketch of Alice and Ben in the original challenge.

That said, however, this sketch has a few important differences from sketches I've attempted previously. The most important difference is that this is the first sketch I've attempted in which I based the sketch off of some lightly drawn (and redrawn, as needed) wireframes to use for reference. In previous shots, there was some notable line of detail on the edge of the photo that I felt I could really "latch" onto and base the rest of the drawing off of. Not so in this photo. The dancers are interconnected in a somewhat complex way, and I just didn't have a good enough line to start the drawing off of. There's no shame in using wireframes, though; they really help you model the bodies as you're posing and composing them in your sketch, and can be quite useful in providing realistic approximations of limb lengths and placements.

Round 3 of the challenge was difficult in the demands it placed on drawing facial features, but what I learned from that round I got to apply to this round. Of particular value was learning not to draw teeth very darkly, and that resulted in Jackie having a much nicer smile in this photo. Her eyes were closed in this shot, which was very forgiving to me as far as sketching is concerned. Another challenging aspect of this sketch is hands, for which this sketch includes 3 fairly prominently. I was actually pretty happy with how they turned out, though, and managed to give them some subtle detail to avoid the dreaded "squid fingers" effect that can happen when you don't detail the digits of the fingers. Round 3 also brought about the introduction of smudge-shading (not sure what the artsy, more technical term is for this) to help reduce the grain in some shading and bring about more grayscale and better gradients in my art work. This was applied somewhat well to Jackie's pink dress, to help contrast it in this greyscale picture to the pure white tones I left for flesh. It also had a small hand on some of the floorboards and helped bring out the emissions of the light fixtures on the back wall.

It wasn't a perfect sketch, of course (will it ever be? I doubt it). There are a few issues of scale and the angles of Jackie's head and body could've been even more pronounced and dramatic. Also, I can't quite place it, but something a little weird is going on with Nick's right arm and that side of this body in general. I was very happy with the sketch overall, however.

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