The Origin of PortraitMate

I recently got back into drawing after about 22 years of pretty much not drawing anything at all.

When I was younger I used to really enjoy drawing portraits of various musicians, actors, wrestlers etc. Basically, anything I was a fan in the 90's. I wasn't especially good by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoyed it at the time. Eventually, between school and University studies, summer jobs and other hobbies taking over, I gradually stopped drawing altogether.

Fast forward to last year, I discovered the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year TV series. Myself and my wife watched the series over a couple of weeks. Afterwards, I got thinking about my old drawings and decided to dig out my old sketch pads which were still over in my parents house. Luckily enough I'd started dating the drawings by the time I'd stopped, so I found the last ever drawing I'd done purely for the joy of it - a sketch of Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, dated 18th Feb 1996. For all intents and purposes, you could take this as my "Before" standard of drawing.

Joe Perry - "Before" 1996 sketch

I started thinking about taking up drawing again and I watched a couple of youtube tutorials before I came across a very interesting blog entry by a guy who had learned to draw incredibly good portraits in a really short space of time. To me, his starting point was pretty similar to the level I was at when I'd stopped. I think that was the thing that actually pushed me to actually start drawing again.

I tried out triangulation method he described in the blog and found it worked really well for me - see the tutorial page for a description of the method. The only problem was that I was drawing from a photo on an iPad, so it was tough to get the angles between the points with a protractor without moving the image and also I had to keep track of the points without being able to mark them on the screen. I figured there would be an app available that would do it, but all that I could find were apps that would overlay grids. I found that method was a lot less accurate and also there were a lot of unwanted lines to erase.

I started out doing a couple of Black Sails characters and then started doing sketches from old photographs. They still weren't brilliant, but there was a dramatic improvement in likeness. I've never had the patience to achieve a very life like portrait like some of the ones I've seen people do online. The amount of time I've been spending these sketches have varied from around 15 minutes to about 2 hours.

Mark Ryan as Mr. Gates in Black Sails

Next Steps...

PortraitMate : Coming soon to the iOS App Store