Saturday, May 16, 2009

Black Backgrounds...

I've gotten some "whoas" and some questions about my black backgrounds on my portraits. They really don't take too long despite my whining - about a days work for a really big one like this.

First off I use Polychromos on Fisher 400 paper for my portraits which has its pros and cons. The pencil acts sort of like a semitransparant pastel... where you can both smudge the pencil but the colors will mix together instead of just sit on top of each other for most colors. The con is that it smudges which can be annoying for storage, framing, shipping etc. Sprays don't seem to help much either. 

So for a background like this I'll put down just enough pencil - well scribble it on really. Then I'll use my handy dandy blending tool - my finger - and smudge it all in. Oila it is smooth and has no grain showing. For a black background it doesn't feel much different than using charcoal. 

In the swatch below you can see part of the Shannon background when I had enough pencil down and hadn't smudged it in yet. 

At this moment I noticed I have 99 followers! Wow! Thanks everyone for coming to see my blog!! 


Carolina said...

Thanks for sharing, it's very useful!

Sheila said...

You broke the century mark!!!! Congrats!

pencilportraits said...

Hi Nicole, I did contact you before about how you produced such smoothness in your images, the swatch was really helpful as I did think you put down more layers than that, just shows how different supports require different techniques.

su said...

i'm such a fan....thanks for sharing!

nbd95 said...

Hi Nicole! Congratulations on another amazing portrait!

Are you having to put these large pieces under glass? or is the smearing minor and only until you "varnish" the piece?

Thank you for sharing, You are awesome! --Denise

Veda Murthy said...

awesome info nicole! I m troubling you with a ittle more FAQs. hope you wil answer them

1. I am a total novice in taking photos for portrait reference. Hence i am asking you some basic info....I have a olympus c8080 and i need to take a photo for drawing a pencil portrait. do you use the portrait feature on your camera while taking a photo?

2. Also do you use natural lighting or artificial lights from the left or rgt to the subject ?

3. do you use flash?

These might be very basic and some might not even interest you but i m just beginning to take pics for i was wondering if you explain to me how u do it?



Nicole Caulfield said...

You're welcome guys!

Denise - I frame my portraits under glass since they are on paper and very smudgeable. I don't varnish them - just the still-lifes on Pastelbord.

Hi Veda - well first yep I turn off the flash. I use either a lamp or window light for the light source. They make diffeent colors on the flesh tones. Regular light bulbs give warm colors and the "daylight bulbs" give cooler colors.
On my camera I have to use the "no flash" setting otherwise the flash will go off... but I'm sure its different on your camera.

Veda Murthy said...

Thanks so much nicole! You have a good day! will post a portrait once i finish!