How to Draw AJ Lee


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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 her 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. 1ST PICTURE: Draw in some hairs to the eyebrows, add eyelashes and pupils. 2ND PICTURE: Start shading with a pencil, even a No. 2 pencil will do well. Shade lightly & diagonally around the eyes. Also fill in the pupils, leaving some catchlights. Stroke the eyebrows in, giving a hairy appearance. The next step gives tips on drawing in hairs for the eyebrow.   STEP 6. To straighten out my eyebrows, I was taught to pinch the hairs to shape them. For drawing the hairs realistically, click on this picture to see how the hair flows and how you can draw them. The hair flows down from the eyebrow arch. Also the hairs come up from the bottom of the eyebrow. Then they flow to a tip at the end of the eyebrow. I hope this helps.   STEP 7. You can see closely how the shading progresses. 1. Simple eyebrows and eyes. 2. Shaping begins. 3. More lines, shading, and looking at the reference. 4. Darkening the eyebrows, eyes, and adding more shadow & shading to skin to match reference. 5. More shading, darkening of shadows. 6. Blending of sketch, but eye shadows, eyebrows, lashes have lightened. 7. 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 8. We are back to shading the picture from Step 5. Shade more under the eyebrows. Do this lightly. Also sketch in more shading around her temple and nose. I have not blended yet. I'm just adding more lines and make sure your pencil stays sharpened as you shade.   STEP 9. 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. Notice how the shading has progressed up her face & how her eyes have darkened.   STEP 10. Here we are detailing the mouth more. The basic image is there and tweaking, erasing hasn't happened yet. Just shade lightly at a diagonal slant. Her cheek lines & lips are defined by this process. Also add a slightly darker shadow under her lower lip.   STEP 11. 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 12. I am showing the basic drawn shapes (guidelines) of her hair, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, facial outline, and upper bust. Some of the lines in her face do not exactly line up. This is where you would erase and tweak to get the reference picture's true shapes.   STEP 13. Add curls to her hair. Draw them lightly so you can easily blend in the lines. Shade down to her neck & add a darker shadow on her collar below her chin. 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 14. Progress adding curls to the other side of her hair. Draw in the skull, necklace, and piping to her blouse.   STEP 15. Here is the shading progression for the lips. In picture 4, you can use the 9B graphite pencil to add darkness to where the lips meet. Picture 7 is the end result of blend and highlight/darkening details.   STEP 16. Long hair can take longer to create than a face. So I consider hair to be important to capture as well as the subject's personality. The 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 17. Here is the beginning of shading the hair. The strokes are curved and go 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.   STEP 18. When you start darkening the hair, you'll notice doing it in layers gives a realistic look. Darken as you go along, looking at your reference. TIP REPEAT: 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 19. 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 shade in her tie and the piping to her blouse. TIP: For fly-away hair, I keep the lines there. After shading the hair more, look at the ref. pic. to see where to lighten the fly-away strands with a thinned edge of a kneaded eraser.   STEP 20. Sketch lightly over her exposed chest area with your No.2 pencil. Do diagonal strokes or small circles. Also add darker shading lines on the tie, under her collar & other areas. Make sure your pencil is sharp.   STEP 21. FLYING HAIR: Click on this pic to see how the fly-away hair strands have progressed in drawing and shading. It is not as hard as it seems. It just takes a little more time for that extra "umph" to your picture. PIC 9: Notice how I really darkened the beginning of her hair near her forehead... like the wind is blowing it up. Well, I added those darker strokes at the end to give that depth. Try it. Make sure your strokes line up with the fly away hair strands already there.   STEP 22. Since a lot of detailing was applied to AJ's blouse and tie, click on this pic to see the drawing and shading progression.   STEP 23. 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.   STEP 24. Here I've added the background only. Get as close to the hair as you can. I used the No.2 pencil since the background is not that dark.   STEP 25. I've darkened the side of her face and hair more. Make sure you take your kneaded eraser and leave some highlights in her hair and at the edge of her face. Adding the background darker, filling in the white areas makes AJ Lee 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.