moving on

Well, I had a fun run with this thing, but I just couldn’t quite keep up with it in the way I intended. So this will be my last official post on this blog as I move over to a more consolidated project at sharonmcgill.net.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Feel free to keep up with me on Twitter, Instagram, and at my newer (and likely much shorter) blog.

The famous faces challenge

A belated birthday homage for Mr. Dickens

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I haven’t had time to post though I promise I have been drawing. I completed one more graphite/digital piece to share, but I can’t post it until later this month when it goes live elsewhere on the internet.

In the meantime, I decided to pay a little homage to a great writer. Last Tuesday, February 7, was Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday, and since I’ve been known to gift friends with an occasional digital portrait, I made this. Okay it’s belated, but the man has been dead for 142 years, so I figured he wouldn’t mind.

While the image of Dickens that most often comes to mind is that of his later years, with the grizzly beard and wild hair, I rather like this younger shot from 1850. He was already famous by that time, having visited the U.S. and just completed David Copperfield. By many accounts, he was a handsome-looking fellow and a bit of a dandy, so I thought it might be fun to resurrect him like this in full, dashing color.

Here’s the original image I worked from. It’s a public domain image from Wikipedia.

Clearly, I took some liberties at the details not apparent in this black and white photo. I found myself searching all over the web to figure out his eye color (responses ranged from brown to blue), and what fabrics were used in mid-19th century men’s clothing. Whatever I couldn’t figure out, I gave my best guess.

I call this particular digital drawing process my “Facebook portrait” since it’s a style I began using for social media avatars several years ago.

My first Facebook avatar (October 2007)

Back then, I began with a drawing done with good ‘ole brushes and india ink that I scanned in and colored in Photoshop. Today, I simply trace right in the program, using a mix of raster and vector lines. The Dickens portrait inspired me to figure out fabric textures, which was a good challenge and something I’ll probably work into future portraits. I also want to work more on backgrounds. In this one, I found a historic view of Fleet Street and St. Paul’s that made a nice contrast between the bright, contemporary illustration and the faded, historic photo look. I should probably do something original, but this works for now.

Anyway, my goal is to do a series of famous faces with some sort of fun, random connection. I had considered doing just writers, but that’s too straightforward. Then I thought about famous Georges (for a series called By George!) or Scotts (Great Scott!), but I need something that allows me to draw an equal number of women. I’d love a range of people from different ethnicities, races, and historical time periods—a variety of faces and stories I can tie together with a simple, quirky premise. Like a pun! I like puns.

Feel free to help me brainstorm. Anyone with a great concept and a few good names wins their own, free Facebook portrait.