Freelance Work - Family Portrait
By Corey Breen
11 x 17 inches
This was a freelance gig I just completed this past month. The client wanted a family portrait for her parents anniversary. This took about 24 hours total to complete. Never did this many people in one portrait before. My process for this is kinda interesting too. What I do is tell the client to send me high resolution photos of all the people in the portrait. I ask them for photos that they think the people they want look their absolute best. I also ask in advance what kind of portrait they want, so depending on specifics (ie- mostly standing people) I ask for specific types of photos. Then I make a collage of sorts in Photoshop combining heads to bodies and moving things around and messing with the size and shapes of everything. I mash up all the photos until I get a composition I like and I think will work. I also have to make sure we have a solid background that makes sense.
I then print out to size the final approved reference. Then I throw that down under an illustration board, and throw it on a light-box. I then draw the outlines, and finally start into the tones. The tones is what takes a long, long time. I focus mostly on making sure I capture the look and likeness of every person completely. That is the hardest part. Sometimes I just keep trying and trying until finally, I know in my head, YES that is what that person looks like! It's a weird feeling to describe, but when I get it, I just know.
Then finally, I just work on it until I finish, really. I like to only work at MOST 8 hours a day on it. It's always good to take breaks during then too, or put on a movie I know really well, so if I want to just look up for a minute and take a break or rest my hand, I have something I can just watch for a minute. Can't watch something new, because that is a distraction. Also, it's best to sleep on drawing (NOT literally, lol) because when you wake up in the morning, or look at it the next day, you see with more clarity, and can step away from the previous day's work to get a better sense of the drawing and things that are and aren't working.
I LOVE doing portraits for clients. I do people, pets, caricatures, babies. It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun too, and comes easy to me. It's also VERY rewarding. To see and hear the reactions of the clients and/or the reactions of the people they give them to as gifts (ie- a portrait of a boyfriend or husband & child) is just so great. The feeling I get knowing that I made a special piece for a family or spouse really makes it ALL worth it. I'm glad I can be a part of that love that person wants to show and give to other people they care enough about to get a portrait done.
It's also MUCH more impressive to size and in person, to be able to see the shading at the right size is really something nice that a shrunk jpg just can not capture.
So thanks to this client, and I hope they all cherish the piece for a long, long time. It was a pleasure.
If you or someone you know would like a portrait done, please email me at