Jan 30 2009

The Interpretive Portrait

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Here’s some visual samples of portraits that combine observation, simplification, and personal interpretation:


Shannon Playford and Roxi McClosky


Jerry Frech and  and Marten Jansen


Claude Caquil: portraits on flickr

Claudia Hernandez, and Alex Katz


Notes regarding general proportions (culled from About.com):

Size of Head: The distance from the chin to the crown is the same as from the back of the head to the front. The mid-point of the face, when measured from chin to crown, is at the base of the eyes or eye sockets.

Eyes: The space between the eyes is about the same width as one eye. If the width of eye is used as a unit of measurement, the head is five eyes wide.

Eyebrows: Extend beyond the eyes on both sides.

Ears: The top of the ears line up with the brow of the nose and the eyebrows, and the bottom of the ears with the tip of the nose.

Nose: The bottom of the nose is the midpoint between the eyes and the chin.

Mouth: The corners of the mouth align with the center of the eyes (if you’re not smiling). The line where the two lips meet is slightly above the halfway point between the end of the nose and the chin.

Chin: The mound of the chin starts at the inner corners of the eyes.

The following are some tips set forth by portrait painter, Robert Howard:

“Caucasian flesh tones are composed of yellows and reds with greys added to neutralize certain areas. Caucasian flesh tones have the widest variation within the individual face. There is wide variation in brown flesh tones, ranging from cool to warm but less variation within the individual face. What we think of as Asian flesh tones tend toward less variation than brown flesh tones and considerably less variation in tone within the individual face. The flesh tones of males of all races are usually depicted as somewhat darker and more richly colored than the flesh tones of corresponding females. Children are always depicted as having lighter flesh tones, on the order of the females of the race but with higher color in the cheeks, nose and ears…. By mixing a burnt umber and burnt sienna in zinc white we can create a good mass tone for painting brown skin. The darker the skin, the higher the contrast with the highlights. A small amount of cerulean blue added to the highlights will make them more convincing.”

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