March 2, 2008

Some ugly stages of a self portrait

Thanks to a recently announced Self Portrait Challenge at WetCanvas, I got to do my self portrait. After more than a month of shortlisting some photographs, I finally zeroed in on a reference. I was not even sure if I should use a reference or sit in front of the mirror. But since the mirror option is certainly more time consuming, I went with having a reference.

My reference would be familiar to those who are on my network in Orkut, for this pic has been my profile pic forever. The original reference is this -

I opted for a closer crop so that the focus is on my face and not the background. Here is the cropped reference -

To begin with, I did a rough sketch blocking the main regions, for my face, body and the background. And filled it with one layer of colour. I have simply filled flesh tint in the face, without marking the features.

Then, I directly marked the features with a pencil on my face. A very rough marking, which would be refined later as I lay down paint.

I do not have stage by stage WIP images to show the painting process, as I was too involved to pause and click. I completed the face (ver 1.0) only to later realize that the proportion between the size of the face and height of my body wasn't alright. The width was fine, but the picture showed me taller than I actually am. I did not like it, and painted over the face again with flesh tint. I have emptied a tube of flesh tint for this picture alone and need to replenish my stock, btw!

Version 2.0 seemed alright with regards to the proportions overall, but I did not like the eyes. The eyes were perfect in version 1.0, but 2.0 altered this, and therefore the overall resemblance to myself was lesser. When the eyes are perfect, they kinda make up for other goof ups. But if the eyes go wrong even a wee bit, no amount of perfection in the other features will set right the overall painting. Here is a look at ver 2.0.

If I find something wrong, I do not have the patience to "correct" it. I would rather paint over it and start from scratch. Which is why I painted over the eyes alone when I felt they were not okay, and version 3.0 was born! I think the proportions are okay now and the eye also looks fine. A lot of shading is yet to be done though. It was getting too late and I was feeling sleepy, so decided to continue at a later point. Here is the portrait as it is right now -

At every stage, my only verification was with my daughter. If she could recognize me, I thought everyone else can! So I showed it to her and she was happy, which made me sort of relieved. But one thing that is nagging me is that the picture is terrible if seen in the mirror. When I am unsure if I am on the right track, I always use the mirror to judge my painting. And this time, it looks like someone else in the mirror (not that it looks 100% like me in the normal view either!:-) ) I have left it aside for sometime. Will go back to it later and spend some time analysing what needs to be done where, and I hope to complete this soon. Ofcourse, with background and all.

In the meantime, I would like to hear from you folks about what you think of this attempt. And suggest any changes too. Thank you!


  1. Hey Nithya

    Good to see you back!

    First off, I think it takes a lot to venture into the self-portrait arena, so that in itself is a good start.

    About this one in particular, V3 does look good, but the eyes havent turned out exactly like the original, so if I were to see the painting before the photo, I'd still not be able to equate the two to the same person. Might need some more work there, but all in all, a great start!


  2. Hey Dear,
    Send the completed one fast to me. Let me have the chance to see you in that daily until you are here.

    - Chander

  3. Wow Nits ! This is fantastic effort ! from painting to painting to photo to painting is a amazing step ! Loved this !


If you like it, share it!