January 4, 2017

Behind The Scenes Of The Gilding Commission

by Corrina Thurston

The finished drawing.
The finished drawing.

 

When the Gildings came to me towards the end of September and asked if I would be interested in doing a commission for them as a Christmas gift, I was honestly a little hesitant. I’d never drawn three kids in one drawing, from three different images, with backgrounds made from purely my imagination (based on what the client told me was his vision for the piece), and in such a large scale. Needless to say, it was a challenge on many fronts!

 

The Beginning Of The Drawing Process

The first thing I did was cut a piece of cream-colored mat board to the size we’d discussed, which was 24×30 inches big. This is the biggest commission I’ve done! Then I took the small photos I was given for reference photos and photographed them, making it so I could enlarge them on my computer and print them out to size. I then used those printouts to decide if the sizing of each seemed appropriate and to decide what the layout should be (which child should go in the middle or on either side).

Then came the line drawing, which is one of the parts I dread the most.

The initial line drawings. The one on the far right is only on tracing paper because we hadn't decided fully on which reference photo to use for him, but I needed to make sure spacing was right, so it was a quick estimated sketch of his top half.
The initial line drawings. The one on the far right is only on tracing paper because we hadn’t decided fully on which reference photo to use for him, but I needed to make sure spacing was right, so it was a quick estimated sketch of his top half.

I dread the line drawings because especially when working in colored pencil, if you get the initial line drawing wrong in some aspect, there’s not much you can do about it later on! For example, if I made a line drawing of a face and didn’t realize the eye was a little off in scale or shape or location until I started adding color to it, I can’t erase it and start again. Instead I have to work around it and try to minimize how much the flaw shows up.

 

Starting With The Left Side

Beginning to add color to the far left.
Beginning to add color to the far left.

Because I knew that the reference photo for the child on the right was likely to change, I decided to work from left to right. I also had a reference photo for the child on the far left that was almost exactly what I was drawing, meaning I wasn’t adding much to it from my imagination or multiple photos, so it was likely going to be the easiest section in some ways.

I finished most of the child to the far left before moving on, but this is also when I started fighting a sinus infection that lasted a long time, so small details were hard for my eyes, so some of the details in the face I left for later.
I finished most of the child to the far left before moving on, but this is also when I started fighting a sinus infection that lasted a long time, so small details were hard for my eyes, so some of the details in the face I left for later.

I loved working on the apron, that was my favorite part of this section. I’ve never drawn an apron before and I enjoyed working on the patterns and making it look folded over in the midsection.

 

Working On The Middle

At first the client and I anticipated putting the children in chronological order by age, however, we ultimately decided to put the youngest child in the middle because her reference photo was so different and she was the only one not standing. We liked the symmetry of having the two standing children on the sides, and the crouched child in the middle.

The client wanted this child in a field of grass and daisies, so I had to start with some of the grass around her hands and knees. Then I started working on her costume.
The client wanted this child in a field of grass and daisies, so I had to start with some of the grass around her hands and knees. Then I started working on her costume.

I started with the grass around her hands and knees because in order to make her look like she was IN the grass, I knew that should overlap, and you can’t draw that in later with colored pencil because of the way it layers. Then I focused on the daisies because those would overlap with parts of her as well, giving the image a sense of 3D. After that, it was her costume that I worked on, and eventually moved on to her background which I did from my imagination.

The daisies and grass are from my imagination. In the reference photo she was on a carpet.
The daisies and grass are from my imagination. In the reference photo she was on a carpet.

Once I finished with the background and the costume, I moved on to her hands and her face. This is the first person I’ve drawn who had face paint on! The daisies and the face paint were my favorite parts to draw from this section. I like how it almost looks like it should be in a storybook.

The finished middle section.
The finished middle section of the commission.

 

Working On The Far Right

At this point the client and I had decided on which reference photo we wanted to use for the boy on the right. This photo was only from his waist up, so I had to use some imagination and photoshop skills to help myself create the bottom half of his body, and make it look accurate! His legs had to be at the right angle to fit with his torso, the right size, and the right orientation for his stance. You can see the line drawing in the previous photo, and you can see more clearly in the photos below as I started to lay down color in his clothing.

His clothing was probably my favorite part of the whole drawing process.
His clothing was probably my favorite part of the whole drawing process.

Then I began working on his face and arms, which you can see below, along with the bat he’s holding.

 

The Background

After working on the boy's face and arms, I began to add some of the background coloring, layer by layer. It was a large surface to cover!
After working on the boy’s face and arms, I began to add some of the background coloring, layer by layer. It was a large surface to cover!

The client wanted all three of the images drawn to be connected somehow by the background, and because each of the images was so different from one another, I decided a blue-sky effect would be best for the top section to bring them all together. I added a gradient to the blue so that it was brighter on top and became lighter around the children so as not to take attention away from the subjects.

Then on the bottom, I knew I was going to have the boy on a home plate of a baseball field, which is surrounded by dirt, so I decided to make the floor of the girl on the far left the same brown as the dirt and connect them as well.

Finishing up the background and the final details of the subjects.
Finishing up the background and the final details of the subjects.

I had to decide if I wanted to bring the grass from the middle child down further, or leave it the way it was, and I chose to leave it. I liked how the bottom of the grass section was rounded, even though it left that section feeling a little smaller.

 

The Finished Product/Final Thoughts

The piece was almost bigger than my drawing table.
The commission was almost bigger than my drawing table.

This drawing was a challenge, as I said in the beginning of this post. But it was also great. The Gildings were GREAT clients, which is always a huge relief when doing a commission, and it was good to do something different than what I normally do. My favorite parts were the clothing and the daisies, both things I haven’t drawn much before. The faces were nerve-wracking because I knew that was the most important part of the drawing, and I don’t have a lot of experience drawing faces in colored pencil.

Thankfully, the client loved the drawing! And that is by far the most important thing. Thank you to my wonderful clients!

 

Do you have a photo of your children, pet(s), loved one(s), or something else you’d like me to draw? I’m now officially back open to commissions, so feel free to contact me to get more information!

4 thoughts on “Behind The Scenes Of The Gilding Commission

  1. This drawing was made for me as a beautiful Christmas present and I love it!

    1. Hi Lori! I’m so glad you like it! Yay! Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know. 🙂

  2. Beautiful work, Corrina.

    1. Thank you, Patti! 🙂

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