I have no idea what training illustrators go through, but they seem to know how to draw small the best and are very skilled with watercolor. I have noticed that there are a lot of working and retired illustrators in Bloggersville and the painters of "Big Boys" are few if here at all?
|My reference photograph|
On 9 x 12, I tend to want to use pencil, not charcoal. Now charcoal comes in pencils, but the marks are darker and don't lift so easily--and charcoal is as much a subtractive medium as it is an additive. When working with it, I move between the two actions. That's imperative.
What I have gotten so far working small on just one portrait is: forget the details and go for the dominating shapes, albeit shadows and negative space. My stick of vine isn't exactly helping me out. Where I unusually use roughly a one and a half inch piece, I find myself wanting to break that in half. Three quarters of an inch is pretty small to grasp with authority.
I struggle on. Observing. Calculating. Bungling. And fixing. But not the top one. This one I started too close to the top of the page and had to crop off a top curl along with the spiral line. The curl gave that head a better shape. The only fix is to take a closer look at what you don't like. This time getting the subject solidly placed on the page :
|Zac looking a bit older than he was at the time of the reference photograph five years ago.|
--Actually, closer to what he looks like today.