Playful Portraiture Advanced Preparation

Welcome to class! I look forward to seeing you soon.

When we meet in person I will be bringing practice photos and patterns so that you can learn the techniques I'm teaching you. You will be able to understand how, when, and why to draft in the shapes and lines that will create a realistic looking portrait.

If you really wish to skip straight to creating a pattern from your own photo in a 6hr workshop, please follow these guidelines.

  • Choose a photo after reading this page.
  • Print the photo, with the face filling the entire letter sized page, in black and white.

If you you are just learning to create a pattern from your photo, it helps to start with a few things in mind. For the sake of our sanity, we are going to start with simple portraits that only have a few contours delineated. You can go crazy later and make a face with a million pieces, but for now we are going for EASY. I want you to learn to understand SHAPES and VALUES and how they create DEPTH and DIMENSION.

You need to be able to SEE the FEATURES clearly.

  • A hat that shadows the eyes so that you can't see them will make things difficult.
  • The dappled shade of a leafy tree will make it difficult to see where the contours of the face lie.
  • Dramatic lighting is only great if you want a dramatic portrait.

Pretty Photo: BAD for making a pattern

lynn montgomery switzerland

This is my favorite picture of my mom. Some day I'll figure out how to make a pattern from this photo, but take a look. I cannot see any of the features on the left side of her face.

Beautiful Photo: SORT OF OK for making a pattern


This photo of my Mother and Father-In-Law is better. I can see eyes and mouths - mostly. For beginners I recommend face forward and clear lighting rather than profiles.

Dramatic photo: COULD BE BETTER for making a pattern


Ella Fitzgerald, from the Library of Congress at where you can find many copyright free digital images from America's public archives.. This photo is workable because you can see her eyes and other features. But do you really want to look up her nostrils? Wouldn't you rather have her features lit instead of in shadow?

Light will attract your attention and in a portrait you almost always want the light and the attention to be around the eyes.

Great photo: GREAT for making a pattern

Her features are clearly lit. Her face fills the page.

Spectacular photo: WORKABLE for making a pattern


Audrey Hepburn's face isn't entirely delineated here, but you can imagine the line of her face so it works. The features are extremely easy to see, as are the shadows.

Great photo: CHALLENGING for making a pattern

DADRCD Albert Einstein in 1946. Portrait by photographer Fred Stein (1909-1967) who emigrated 1933 from Nazi Germany to France and finally to the USA.

If you want to drive yourself nuts, or if you really love a challenge, try Einstein! You'll have to use your imagination with his hair and especially that mustache! Keep in mind that cutting out lots of little wrinkle lines out of fabric is doable, but tedious and complicated.

In appliqué you are going to be working with SHAPES, not lines so think about every shape you will be cutting out. How small will it be, how complicated?


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