Tag Archives: portrait

Portrait Process

A friend recently contacted me about creating a couple of trading card portraits as a gift for his daughter. After a little discussion and finding out who he wanted me to draw, I accepted the challenge. The real challenge for this commission was to have a realistic image that still retained my style. Keeping my style was the hard part. I tend to shy away from photo-realism because I can't put my mark on the image and it falls flat for me.

It was also important to get a good idea of where the light and shadow fell on the faces and the general shape of the face itself. I started off with a few simple sketches done with the sharpie brush markers.

With realistic faces the important part is to get the eyes right. So I studied them. I did detailed sketches of the eyes, making notes of where I was off. Being self critical was very important in this stage. One I started to work on the card sizes errors would lead to doing the job over again.

I started the cards with a light HB pencil sketch made with a mechanical pencil. This gives me a guide of where I want my ink to go. This lets me move an eye to the right or left if needed and move the nose closer to the eyes and to shrink the mouth.

I then blocked in my first layer of ink with a 0.18 Uniball Signo Bit. it's light-fast and waterproof ink is a perfect first layer. I allowed this ink to dry for a full 3 hours before I used a kneaded eraser to remove in the pencil line. While I find the Signo ink to dry quickly I was taking no chance of ruining the pieces.

After the pencil was removed I went into the image with a 0.28 Uniball Signo DX black ink pen. Again, it's light-fast and waterproof ink is a nice deep black shade that let me build up my layers of ink precisely and easily.

At this point the image is almost completely finished. I used the 0.38 Uniball Signo DX to add the darkest areas.

Before adding the watercolor I sat on the finished image for 24 hours. I wanted to be happy with every aspect of the image before I finished it with watercolor. Since these are a pair if images to be gifted to the same person I wanted to be sure they matched. Doing a little research into my subjects showed they were both architects who used a lot of steel and concrete in their work. I mixed a large puddle of Holbein watercolors, far more than I'd ever need to finish these images, in a shade of blue grey midway between slate and concrete. The color complements the images well. After allowing the images to dry completely I cut them from the parent sheet.

The final step will be to place each card into a trading card sleeve and carefully construct a presentation sleeve out of cardboard.

If you are interested in having me create a custom trading card sized portrait for you, please see this page or consider buying into my chipin campaign here. I'd be happy to work with you to create a treasured momento.

Custom Portrait Commissions

By  now you are all well aware that I enjoy creating portraits. I’ve worked really hard to have my own style but retain a sense of realism. I’m excited to now be able to work on commissioned portraits. If you are interested in having me create you a portrait please email me.

More information:
I work in a style that is very me, so be sure you have browsed the gallery of my art  to be sure you like my style. I work in black ink and create sensitive cross hatching to create areas of shadow. The background of the portrait will be painted in one or two colors, which you may leave up to me or specify. If you have me working on a portrait of your daughter and her favorite color is violet I’ll mix a shade of violet and have you okay it.

As the work progresses  I’ll email you progress shots and include you in the process as much as possible. If I’m able to do so I’ll record the process and create a video. When you see the finished piece you won’t be surprised but simply overjoyed.

I like to keep my pricing reasonable. The prices are based on size and materials used.
Pen and ink with single color watercolor background on acid free archival paper, single portrait:

  • Trading Card: $20
  • 3×5: $35
  • 5×7: $55
  • 8×10: $80

All sizes except the trading card size are matted and bagged in a KrystalSeal bag. The trading card size will arrive in a standard trading card sleeve. All pieces will come with a certificate of authenticity.

Email me here.


I also create unique one of a kind portraits in mixed media. The background is a combination of collage and acrylic paint with sketching and writing within the layers. In the area I would like to create the face I scrape an ultra thin layer of white paint, on which I draw the portrait. The portrait is drawn in a variety of colors. You can request that I work bright and I’ll use a bright color to start the portrait instead of gray. The image is built up of layers of gray, white and black. Around the portrait I’ll layer more stencils and more layers of bright acrylic paint. I may add a variety of other media to the portrait if I feel it needs more texture or particular pops of color. These portraits are 11×14 in size, come with a 16×20 mat and ready to be framed in a standard size frame. Each will also arrive with a certificate of authenticity. These portraits are $75+shipping.