How to Draw Curtis Axel


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STEP 1. This tutorial is completely in PENCIL! Let's start with the tools. I'm in love with the Monolith 9B graphite pencil sticks. It's nice, black, smooth on the surface and makes such great dark lines. And a No.2 pencil isn't bad either--great for details and light shading. The great thing about .7mm mechanical pencil is you never need to sharpen it... just change the lead when it runs out. Kneaded erasers are charms. Kneaded erasers can make great highlights like the pupil's catch lights, or shine in hair. But you need patience with it because you need to mold it & sometimes you have stroke a few times before getting your results. Blending stumps do just that... blend and so does tissue paper for large areas.   STEP 2. The picture that goes with this step shows two different ways to hold your pencil to acquire certain effects. OVERHAND: Holding a sharpened pencil in normal writing form with fingers in the middle or near the lead gives you great control and thin/detailed strokes. UNDERHAND: Holding the pencil at a 45 degrees or near level to the table with end of pencil under your palm with pencil on the flat side, gives you large shading coverage. With the No.2 pencil, you have the exposed lead side to shade with. But for a wider swath, use that Cretacolor Monolith graphite pencil with no wood casing. The whole sharpened portion is all lead, like in the step's picture. Practice the toning values to help you with control.   STEP 3. The strange crescent shape on the oval is just a reminder that his hair will be there. Also in bisecting line (down the middle of the face) and parallel lines in the next picture are to help with eyebrows, eyes, nose and mouth placement. Right now, drawing in this general shape makes it easier to sketch in the details later.   STEP 4. FIRST PICTURE: If you are doing a professional picture and need accuracy, this has helped me tremendously. This is MY TIP of the day and it is LONG! Skip it if you want to. Those crazy lines help with placement too. Don't get me wrong, I mess up majorly most times. What? I can hear you say, "Your pictures are near perfect!" Not when I'm working on them. If you feel something strange in your gut about your picture, put it up to the mirror. That'll tell you. Also take your reference pic and put it in the mirror too... what a big difference! To measure out where the features go, take an envelope, piece of paper or a ruler (straight edge)... anything to vertically represent your line placement and try this: Take your reference pic, put the straight edge against the edge of the smile line and see where it lands near the eye. Then do the same on your drawing, if it doesn't land in the same place, adjust. Don't give up. Take a deep breath and work slowly. It's like molding clay. SECOND PICTURE: You've erased the guidelines and other distracting lines. Your picture won't look exactly like this, but remember my picture is only a guide... that's it. Now we are going to start with shading.   STEP 5. Start shading with a pencil, even a No. 2 pencil will do well. Shade diagonally around the eyes. Also fill in the pupils, leaving some catchlights. Stroke the eyebrows in, giving a hairy appearance. You can give sketch lines on his forehead for wrinkles. Also you can add lines to his nose for shading & shadows.   STEP 6. Now let's add more detail to the nose. Those pyramid type of lines help to place the shading. The side of his nose is darkened for shadow definition. The eyes and eyebrows need darkening.   STEP 7. Go ahead and lightly shade with diagonal strokes. Now using a .7mm HB or even 2B lead in the mechanical pencil is great. It doesn't wear down, you don't have to sharpen it, and it's quality remains the same.   STEP 8. You can see closely how the shading progresses. 1. Simple eyebrows and eyes. 2. Shading and shaping begins. 3. More lines and looking at the reference. 4. Darkening the eyebrows, eyes, and adding more shadow & shading to skin to match reference. 5. Blending of sketch. 6. Darkening of shadows (because blend lightened the picture) & adding highlights with eraser. Notice how the iris is slightly covered by the upper lid. And the reason for so much shading around the eye is because it is sunken in a socket. TIP: When shading, in a corner or darker edge area, start dark then allow your stroking to become lighter as you progress out. This works in small stroke progression or circular shading.   STEP 9. Here we are detailing his mouth and mustache. Just shade lightly at a diagonal slant. His cheek lines & lips are defined by this process. Start to add hair and beard strokes.   STEP 10. Sketch in strands to his hair and beard. Draw in straighter lines for his "bangs" to look dripping wet. Shade lightly his face to add tone to his skin. Leav the sides of his forehead blank. Shade down to his neck & add that darker shadow. Notice how everything starts out real simple then I build up on the picture. Always look at the reference, draw from it, and observe the placement of your shapes. If you get confused, cover up your ref. picture & drawing leaving the same area you're working on to help with focus.   STEP 11. Beards and hair can take just as long to create as the face. So I consider hair to be important to capture as well as the subject's personality. The straight & small curved lines represent the direction of the hair strands & help to keep focus on drawing the hair. Yes, this is created by looking at the reference picture.   STEP 12. Here you can more easily capture the shading progression of the nose. If you need to, lighten the outline of the nose with your (kneaded) eraser.   STEP 13. Here is the beginning of shading of his mustache & beard. The strokes are curved and go along with the basic shape of the hair groups.   STEP 14. Keep adding those hair strokes in the direction of the curls. It helps to keep looking at the reference and not assuming where the lines flow. Also darken shadows around his eyes and nose. This is a good time to shade his shoulder area for muscle definition. Shade the back of his neck a bit more.   STEP 15. Here is the beginning of shading his sweaty hair. The strokes are mostly straight and some curved. Stroke along with the basic shape of the hair groups. Actually, this is much like filling in lines in a coloring book. Still you need to start your pencil strokes from the darkest points and follow the direction of the hair lines. Harder pressure in the dark areas, then lighten pressure as you finish your stroke. The next step will show some stroke tips.   STEP 16. When you follow the arrows as you fill in his hair, it adds realism. Why? A realistic texture is added to your hair using this technique. The hair shouldn't appear flat. TIP: When you start a stroke with your pencil, the beginning pressure is harder and ends up thicker at the base. As you finish the end of the stroke, it is lighter and tapers off much like a paint stroke. That is why it's much easier to get the dark to light appearance starting the stroke from the darkest area.   STEP 17. Observe the right side of his face (facing you). There is a line making that side of his face (beard) smaller. This is an adjustment as I continue to draw from the reference pic. Sketch lightly over upper shoulder area with your No.2 pencil. Do diagonal strokes or small circles. This technique adds tone to his skin. Make sure your pencil is sharp. To really darken his shadowed eyes, hair & beard, do this with a 9B graphite pencil. It's softer and the lead becomes blunt really fast to give those thicker lines.   STEP 18. Here is a nice closeup of the detailed progression of his ear. As you can see in the 4th picture, his hair has been darkened and skin tone added. You also get a rich shadow area with the 9B Graphite pencil. The 6th picture is the completed process, with added highlights.   STEP 19. Always look at your reference to add layers of shadows or highlights. Here I'm aiming at the top of his head and the right side of his beard for darkening. Also I continue to darken that blatant shadow on his shoulder. Keep you pencil sharpened to get those tight lines.   STEP 20. Notice how the crease between his brow is darkened, along with his upper cheek area. I looked at the ref. pic. & noticed his neck still needed more shading. You can make his beard darker by taking a tortillon & blending in for a mid gray.   STEP 21. The blending stump can work miracles for your picture. Use the skinny, tiny one for small areas, like around the eyes, in the nose and mouth. The larger stump can blend larger areas, even the cheek areas and skin tone area. Now if you want a really smooth and can risk that area to appear lighter, use some soft tissue. That really breaks down the graphite lines to a smooth finish. I've used a blending stump to darken the light hair areas. I didn't go over the white parts of his face and shoulder area. Shadow detailing of hair is added on his neck.   STEP 22. Here is the shading progression for the lips. In picture 3, you can use the 9B graphite pencil to add darkness to where the lips meet. Picture 6 is the end result of blend and highlight/darkening details.   STEP 23. I want to show you how my backgrounds can look at the beginning. For this one, five a dark outline around his head & shoulders so you will not lose the outline of your drawing. I used a 9B graphite pencil for dark areas. I lightly sketched using the flat side of the pencil for larger areas. Also I made a few round circles to match the reference picture.   STEP 24. This is background only. I smoothed it with soft tissue paper. While sketching, I wanted to give that camera lighting in the background in the lighter spots.   STEP 25. I've darkened of his face and hair more. Make sure you take your kneaded eraser and leave some highlights in his beard. Add the background darker. Take your kneaded eraser and make a round flat bottom to dab in those round headlights. It is easy & makes wonderful special effects. All this make Curtis Axel pop out more. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial.   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10. Step 11. Step 12. Step 13. Step 14. Step 15. Step 16. Step 17. Step 18. Step 19. Step 20. Step 21. Step 22. Step 23. Step 24. Step 25.