Monday, April 26, 2010

Mr. Fancypants' Portrait (with a tutorial)

Yes, that's his name and I love it! He's called "Pants" for short. This commissioned piece is being given as a gift. I love top secret portraits It's so much fun to have everything be a surprise!

I figured this would be a nice entry to talk about the materials I use and some of my techniques.

Mr. Fancypants' portrait was created on Hannemuhle Velour paper. It's a wonderful archival and acid free paper. There are some issues with using velour paper, but I have some tips. With velour paper, erasing is out of the question. It's best to layout the drawing with a light layer of pastels and continue building the drawing. It's also possible to draw a sketch and then transfer the drawing onto the velour with carbon paper. Paint pigments also like to "dust off" velour paper. I don't like using fixative with my pastel pieces. I know this is a big debate among artists, but I'm not a big fan of fixative for pastels. To get around using fixative I use a brand of pastels called PanPastels for very large areas. This brand binds to paper very well, I highly recommend it.

Here are some progression photos of Mr. Fancypants' portrait. This tutorial is mostly going to show how I create detail in fur. Later, I will have a tutorial on eyes since it's such an important part of any portrait. I took these photos while my work was on the drafting table.

(Please click photos for a larger view.) At this stage, I've blocked the major areas with the PanPastels. I'm preparing to go into the areas where I know that fine detail will be important. I know the frame will be black and white, so I'm keeping those colors in mind while I'm working. The velour paper allows me to layer colors together. I know I want the background to have brown, grey and black shaded together.

At this stage I went back in with more brown colors in the background with the PanPastels. Then I started to go into the fine detail areas with Derwent pastel pencils. It's important to have sharp points on the pencils during this process. I like to use sandpaper to keep them sharp. I never use a pencil sharpener because the pencils are very fragile. It's important to pay attention to the direction of the fur while adding in the fine detail. I used Burnt Umber 54F, Brown Ochre 57 B, Sepia 53 F, Sepia 53 D, French Grey 70 D and French Grey 70H.

At this point, I know the final stages are near. I added in the color into the cheeks for the whiskers. I built up the background some more. I blended in some of the detail with a paper stump. I built up some of the color in the chest. In the final stages, I add shading in the inner ear, along with fur. Then I add in the whiskers with Chinese White 72 B and Ivory Black 67 B pastel pencils.

Hope this all was informative! This was my very first tutorial! Please feel free to leave comments or questions!


Remington said...

BEAUTIFUL! I love it! You are amazing!

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...


I can't even draw a stick figure shape ;-)

Thanks for sharing how you did that - your talents are FURRY impressive!

Miss Kodee said...

How very interesting to read how you do this!! Mr Fancy Pants deserves his name too. I will pass this on to my daughter who also loves to draw in pastels. If she *EVER* finishes Kodee and Becky I will show you lol

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Erica, thanks for stopping by our blog! You did an amazing job with the portrait of pants! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work!

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Cavalier King charles spaniels are my favorite small ddog breed! Your dogs are gorgeous, too!

T said...

Thank you for the nice comment on my blog.

Beautiful work you do!! WOW!!

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Erica, Stumpy's mom was a min pin, we're pretty sure, judging from her coat, her dad was a blue heeler.

Annette said...

Wow! Gorgeous! This picture scared me a bit, I have a cat called Mr Fancypants too! He looks almost the same as this lovely boy except shorter fur. Crazy to think there is a doppelganger Mr Fancypants around.

ocmist said...

This was fascinating! I've never heard of Velour Paper before. I guess I will have to check on it at the art stores. Is PanPastel an oil base or is it a chalk pastel? I've been using Prismacolor Premium pencils for detail, but sometimes they don't seem to work very well. I'd also never heard of using sandpaper to sharpen, but that would probably help with the amount of breakage I get from using a sharpener.

This has all been quite interesting, and I appreciate your sharing this info. Grammy from Country Corgis

Erica Vojnich said...

Thanks for the comments guys!

Ocmist, I forgot to write in the entry that it might be hard to find velour paper in stores :-/ I haven't had that much luck with it. I know Dick Blick carries it online and so does Dakota Pastels.(ttp:// I'm sure I might be able to find it in NYC, but it's much easier just to have it delivered. h I usally buy from Dakota Pastels because they sell the big pads in multicolor. I also have bought the bigger sheets and cut them up, but sometimes they can get dented in delivery. Dakota Pastels is great with replacing the dented pieces. PanPastel is a chalk base, but it's compacted very tight. There's a few demo videos on youtube that talk about them. There are sandpaper blocks that you can buy for pastels, but quite frankly it's cheaper to just buy a sheet of fine or medium sandpaper and use it on a hard surface like a table. Pencil sharpeners really damage pastel pencils, I used to do it but it's much easier to use the sandpaper.