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About the Drawing (Technique) #1: As you can see I am using the grid technique for the second time in my life(!). This is because of the scale of the drawing. It is 17 × 20 inches.
#2: Do you detect a little smudging? This is the first realistic drawing I have done with smudging. But only in extremely light and extremely dark areas. Smudging in the light areas is done to save time; I expect this to take a while given its size. Smudging in the dark areas is to avoid accidental smudging later. Dark areas are highly prone to smudging so it is better to smudge them intentionally rather than accidentally.
#3: As you can see, especially by looking at some of the other shots (not posted), I like to jump to many areas of the portrait instead of focusing on one area until it is completed. This is simply because I get bored working on the same thing for too long and I need to change a lot to keep up my interest. Most artists have more patience and dedication than I have, so this is usually not necessary for most people.
#4: A common question I see on other portraits and I even got this on this one at work: “How do you do the highlights? Erase them into the picture?”. In my case, the answer is simple: don’t draw where there is nothing to be drawn. This also seems to be the case for all high-end artists I have seen (but I have to admit I have only seen a few since I am not very interested in art). For me the eraser is for fixing mistakes or for very subtle highlights, but even for the subtlest of highlights I still try to avoid the eraser and just try to draw them in one pass with pencil.
#5: Hair. For people wondering what tricks were used to make the hair, the answer is simple: None. No indentation methods or otherwise. Each strand is drawn manually, with equal attention to detail paid to each of them. I work from the darks to the lights (usually) and lay down a general shade for each splotch and then fill in each strand in that splotch. Light hairs that cross over dark hairs are outlined before the dark is laid down. Erasers are not for adding light strands over dark strands. If I use erasers, it is only to make tiny adjustments; otherwise things are simply drawn as they are without any advanced techniques coming into play. If you are struggling with hair, the best advice you could get is simply to slow down. I expect to take 150 hours on this piece; this gives me plenty of time to pay attention to each strand of hair. And if you get bored of working on hair for so long, work on another part of the picture as I am. I spend about an hour on each square inch of hair. If you do the same you will see for yourself how much slowing down helps.
About the Drawing (Stats) Time So Far: 83 hours. Time Expected: ~150 hours. Completion: ~85% not including the background. Pencils: 4H-6B graphite. Eraser: Kneadable and rubber. Smudging: Toilet paper! Paper: 100 lb.