An Old Man Portrait with Soft Pastels

Dry Pastels, in some regions, is well known as colored chalks and soft pastels. These are available in Pastel pencils, Soft pastel sticks and hard pastels. Pastels provides us with the best of both painting and drawing. Traditionally, chalk is used as a binder, but today several other materials are also used as an alternate. Pastels allow you to add vibrant colors together to create a soft look. It has been a favorite medium of many well-known artists including Manet, Degas and Renoir ;).You may buy a small set of pastels that include dozen of color sticks initially . Soft Pastel sticks allow a better blending whereas hard pastels are used for detailing. The paper that is best suitable for this medium is a paper with good tooth/ texture. However, I have used simple A4 size cartridge sheet in this project.

You can use dry/ chalk pastels in two different techniques. For instance, the first method is directly applying the charcoal on the paper; whereas second is rubbing the pastel stick on a scrap paper and then let the cotton absorb the pastel pigments and smoothly applying it on to the paper. The latter method avoids huge mistakes and allow us to blend the colors easily. You can even blend with your fingers. But if you get irritated with the muddy pastel pigment on your hand, you better use cotton to blend rather than your fingers. The bigger cotton ball for big areas and a cotton bud stick for the smaller areas will be a good choice. Sometimes people press the color stick too hard that it break off.Therefore always keep in mind not to press the color stick very hard otherwise it will smear.

At the end, while detailing avoid using eraser to big areas instead leave the particular portion from the very start because using the eraser again and again may ruin the freshness of your drawing.

Step 1: Start by making a light sketch with pencil and block with a hard pastel stick if you wish too.

soft pastels old man portrait- step1

Step 2: I always work from light to dark, starting from the lightest tone in the picture and then fill in the area with the next darker tone and so on. Keep on layering and blending the area as you go. The harder you smudge the area with pressure the darker it works.

softpastels old man portrait- step2

Step 3: Keep the dust blow off your work frequently. Use different color to give a more darker shade. Sometimes using just one color may give a flat effect to the drawing. Thus, color and mix different colors to make a preferable tone. Also make sure that the shades you give or reflects in any face must be accurate as it gives the feel of the skeleton  it comprised of.

softpastels old man portrait- step3

Step 4: As you proceed, focus on the fine sections of your drawing such as wrinkles, light and dark reflection on face. eye brows etc. Once you have completed the layering and smudging the portrait drawing,  start giving highlights on the face starting from the very top that is hairs. While drawing hairs, the difference between forehead and the head from where the hairs have started growing should not be very sharp as it would look like a head wig. Make that area look soft and indistinct.;)

softpastels old man portrait- step4

Step 5: Now coming on to the wrinkles, the wrinkles on the forehead is made dark to make the skin look dense and thick. Next portion to be worked on is lips and neck. Neck is colored a bit dark as compared to the completion of face. Do not focus too much on detailing shirt except the folds and reflection.

softpastels old man portrait- step5

Step 6: Eyes are the most attractive part on the face, So do I love drawing them ;). Some highlights have been given in the eyebrows as white hairs. Don’t forget to make the reflection of the specs on face. Also give a tint of yellow color in the inner area of his eyes so as to make them old and natural. The only pure white part in the eye is the light reflection in the pupil.

softpastels old man portrait- step6

Step 7: The Pre-Final image looks like this :

softpastels old man portrait- pre- final part a

And here’s the final picture after completing all the details. The overall time duration it took to make this portrait was 4 hours but you don’t have any time limitation to be followed. Work with complete patience. 🙂

Softpastels old man portrait (Final picture)

How to fix it:

In the end apply a layer of fixative so that the chalk doesn’t smudge and to keep the color pigments with blending. Another substitute for the fixative is hairspray. Hairsprays works as same as fixative does. Fixative allows you to work even after layering. Thus you may also apply a thin coat after every layer you have worked on. Let it dry and may proceed your work as usual. If you choose not to use fixative, place an OHP sheet or butter paper under your hand to protect it.

Dry Pastels (even called as Colored Chalks or Soft Pastels) is a medium that establishes your mind to make your work more realistic. In this tutorial I have given you some simple tips that should be followed for better outcome. Hope you like my work. 🙂

Adios! Will bring you some more creative ideas next time. Till then, keep ‘xploring’ with artXplorez. 🙂 🙂

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