“Geometric portraits look so good. But they must be so time consuming, and how to do they get the shapes to describe all that tonal range?”
Challenge accepted. Cautiously.
About 10 hours later, I have two artworks–one I kinda like, and one I love—and I feel like I’ve learnt so much through the process of trial and error.
A SIDE OF B&W
Here is the image I used—a self-portrait at St Kilda pier.
And here is my geometric illustration.
It took 2hrs 56min. Does that sound like too long? You can see it done in 1min 11sec here.
NERD IN COLOUR
The colour portrait took over double the time at 5hrs and 35min, but I did most of my learning and trial and error on this project. I actually did the eyes, glasses and skin, then decided I didn’t like it and closed the file down. That’s when I started the b&w portrait. However, after finishing the b&w one I had picked up a few more tips and decided to have another go, create more contrast in the colour palette, and start working on the hair. I’m so glad that I restarted this one, as it turned out to be my favourite. I especially love the hair for some reason.
Here is the image I used—a selfie at work with a new pair of glasses. And here is my geometric illustration. Check out the video here.
What do you think? Which do you prefer and why?
ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE
So, are you interested in creating your own geometric portrait? If so, here are my top tips.
1. Choose an interesting image with a unique profile, outline or feature element. This will make it easier to create a unique artwork.
2. Look at the light and shade of the image. Pick out the highlight points and work out from there. Then find the darkest part of the image and work out from there. I found that having more contrast in that tonal range of light to dark made the illustration more dynamic.
3. Look at the natural lines that describe what the shape is, for example, a cheekbone is long and angled, so use smaller shapes to create that large shape. You can see lines within the artwork that describe the direction of the overall shapes. See the 45 degree line of the cheekbone? Or the nearly vertical lines on the forehead and nose?
Just a word of warning, this might not be a project for the particular, perfectionist kind of illustrator. Even now as I look at the illustrations I want to go back and spend another hour or two on it, refining the lines and joins. So you need to be self-aware enough to make the call to “finish” the project!