Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stipple - Pointillism - 'Hedcut' - dot portraits

I have done 2 portraits so far in this style.The latest one I did is of Martin Luther King Jr. This style of portrait is often called a 'hedcut,' the style was popularized by the Wall Street Journal's newspaper portraits, but it's called stipple or pointillism.

You can do this same drawing technique by sight or you can get a little help from the computer. Some might call it 'cheating,' but believe me, the computer doesn't put all those millions of dots in for me! The computer just simplifies and speeds things up. Have you heard the saying that to use one's heart AND head is what makes an artist?

What I did was used my graphics program to give the reference photo a high level of contrast. Print out two versions of the altered photo - one with the high contrast, and another one normal.

Now what you're going to do is use the high contrast one for laying down the basic shapes. Cover the back of the print out with 4B, 6B, or 8B graphite from your pencil (you want a dark, soft lead for this)

Use painter's tape or any low-tack tape to adhere the print out graphite side down onto the paper you'll be drawing on. Sketch over the printout's main lines with a 4H pencil. Be careful not to press in too hard or you will create ridges in the paper.

Outline the darkest areas and write DK for 'Dark' in those sections. Find the tones that are middle toned and write "Med" in them for 'Medium' after you have outined them. Then look for the next lightest areas and outline those. No need to mark them, if they're not marked, then you know they're the lightest areas before you get to white.

Once you have gone over the image transfer process in this way, carefully remove the print out from the art paper.

Now bring out the better print out of the photo and fill in the darkest areas first, using a Pigma Micron or Pitt pens. Then use medium tips, then the finest tips for the lightest areas. The size of the tip you use will depend on the size of the image you are working on, but in general, the closer the dots are to each other, the darker that area will appear. Once I've gone over the entire image, I then pay special attention to the lines, dimples, wrinkles, or miscellaneous features and make sure they are included.

The official Wall Street newspaper ink portraits are 3 inches by 5 inches. They have a team of 6 artists on staff to create them. In a rush situation like a death of a famous person, sometimes they can get them done in as little as 2 hours, but most of the time it takes much more time to complete these. The one of Martin Luther King took me several hours of nervous dotting, and it's a 5"x7", so if you decide to try this, I think 3x5 is pretty small space to work in for a beginner, but 8x10" is so large that all the dotting will drive you crazy, but 4x6 or 5x7 is just about right.

Need paper and the appropriate pens for this art project? Check out: LINK
Please send me a photo or a scan of your creations, I'd love to see what you make!

Related Pointellism portrait Links:
Buy this portrait from me on
Order your own
Wall Street Journal Hedcut Effect

1 comment:

Bev said...

Thats really stunning, nice ink potriat!


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