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