The Wonderful New World of Digital Portrait Art
I decided to buy a drawing tablet for my computer. It was an excellent idea. I got Wacom's inexpensive ($100) "Graphire" drawing tablet, which can be used on both Mac and PC. The software I currently use is Corel Painter 8 and Photoshop CS. They're both great for getting that "painterly" look with a digital tablet! (I have used Painter as far back as version 5, and Photoshop as far back as version 4. These older versions have a lot to offer as well!)
(Some of my digital drawings.)
Drawing with a computer isn't necessarily the most optimal way to hone your drawing skills. There is a certain adjustment required to be able to draw on the tablet, but see the results on the monitor screen. It can be difficult, and needs some getting used to. I do not think that all fledgling portrait artists should feel compelled to go digital right away. However, if you want to try drawing with your computer, there is an advantage - no messy erasures! If you make a mistake, it is easy to fix, and does not put any wear and tear on the paper surface the way a rubber eraser does. Also, when "painting" with the computer, it is easy to fix and tinker with complex rendered areas, without waiting for paint to dry. Especially with Photoshop's "layers," which are a little like "virtual tracing paper." You can draw something on an overlaying "layer," and if you don't like it - no problem! It is easy to reverse without affecting the basic drawing underneath.
Drawing with a digital tablet is for not for everyone, but if you are already a "computer geek," try it out! Wacom's drawing tablet comes bundled with a "Lite" version of Photoshop, and some other excellent software.
Some details about how to use a graphics program to draw a portrait:
I did this drawing when I knew very little about Photoshop. I
merely used my Wacom USB digital tablet to draw this face. I found that
using multiple Photoshop "layers" really helped keep things
from going crazy. I had one layer for the basic sketch of the head,
another layer for shadows in the face, yet another for highlights in
the face. Then, each other portion of the portrait had its own layer
- a hat layer, shirt, background, bandana, etc. This way, if I screwed
up the hat, the rest of the picture wasn't ruined because of it! I could
just delete (or erase) the mistake on the hat without affecting the
rest of the image. Or I could be drastic and delete the whole hat layer
and start over! Layers were the only way to go. And I could also add
different filters and effects to each layer, individually, which I found
These portraits were done with Photoshop 5.5, but Photoshop back to at least version 3 have the "layers" feature as well. So does Photoshop LE, and PaintShop Pro. (I think layers were introduced with version 5 of PaintShop Pro.) With just the basic understanding of layers, you can do a lot with a digital tablet and a graphics program!
I have a Photoshop portrait tutorial, which gives step-by-step instructions on drawing a portrait with Photoshop on my domain site.
Copyright © J.R. Dunster 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.