Ok, attempting to demonstrate something…
So this is Ned Stark. And I’m going to render a section of his hair. This is good practice.
I start by laying basic colors, marking off shadows and highlights. If you’re still getting the hang of measuring things, try drawing at a different size from the original. The point is not the size or shape so much as the lighting.
His hair is naturally light brown (look on the other side of the photo where there is no sunlight), but when the sun hits it, it looks almost white. So I lay in colors accordingly. I start big and get increasingly more detailed.
It might sound unexpected, but if you’ve watched Bob Ross paint, keep him in mind when you’re doing realism. You don’t have to draw every little thing. You only have to give the impression. In photorealism, you only have to draw what you see. In the original photo of Ned, you don’t see every hair. Instead, you see blobs of white and ovals of black and orange squiggles. Draw what you see, and draw only enough to believe it.
A few more points:
- Human hairs are individual, but you will never see all of them individually. Instead, you’ll see triangles of white and black, blobby shapes, and dots. Draw that stuff, not the hair. Look for places where the shape, color, and tone changes. That’s what drawing is: conveying a visual change.
- Also, be deliberate. Lay on solid colors as fast as you can. Do a base coat of color. Don’t leave any white space. Don’t hesitate. It’s scary, but practice it. It’s much easier to deal with a digital painting if you already have something on the page than if you have nothing.
- Paint first, then draw.
I’ll have more in the eye drawing coming up later. But this is a good start, maybe?
I think the biggest roadblock people run into is patience. It’s going to take you a long time to be able to draw like this. There’s no way around that. It will take you a long time just to see this stuff—even just to figure out what you’re looking at in one little section of hair. You’ll be WTF AM I DRAWING THIS IS A SENSELESS MESS a lot of the time. That’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you’re looking at. Sometimes it’s hard to stop thinking “hair is supposed to do this” and start letting your eyes see what’s really there. Give yourself time. It takes practice. That’s why practicing on little sections (especially eyes, which are nice because they give you pretty little drawings in the end) is helpful.
Right then. :)
So here’s the other demonstration, wherein I draw the eye of Ned Stark.
The thing about eyes is:
- The whites are almost never white. Here, the whites of Ned’s eyes look sort of gray/pink.
- The iris isn’t necessarily round. The pupil isn’t necessarily visible. You might not see any eyelashes. Draw what you see.
- Eyeballs have shadows on them just like everything else.The thing about skin and realism (and photorealism) in general is:
- Thinner skin looks redder and more saturated because it’s closer to the blood underneath. Thicker skin looks yellow, more opaque, and less saturated. That’s an anatomy rule to keep in mind, but it’s not necessarily a visible thing that you can draw. Sometimes, anatomy goes out the window, especially if you’re drawing only what you see.
- Relatedly, in photorealism there can sometimes be odd colors in weird places regardless of skin quality. This is called an optical effect, which has little to do with anatomy and more to do with the photo medium, whether it’s a film or a photograph. A good example can be see in screencaps. Check out this page of SPN screencaps. Notice how things look greenish? That’s because of the camera. Remember: when you draw from a photo, a camera saw it first. Different cameras capture different things. Not only that, but editors, directors, and photographers armed with their own equipment might have had a go at the image before you came along (one of the many reasons why, no matter how much you might think it does, no screencap, no graphic, and in some cases no fanart can ever be your property). This is not the case with life drawing, where the only optical effects are what exist in the room with you, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Like with the hair demo, I started big and gradually got smaller with details. The very last detail I did in this drawing was the white highlights on the eyes.
It’s not the way everyone paints, but it’s how I do photorealism. Hope it helps you. :)