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100 Heads in 10 Days, an art challenge and drawing exercise

Over a week ago I found this 100 heads challenge on YouTube (I’ll link the reference below). I am always interested in the face and human expression, so I decided to make this challenge. My initial purpose was to improve my proportion and quick sketch skills, and by the end of the challenge, I worked on a complete piece with full colour and background, and I can see the improvement on my side.

So now I will show you my drawings and what I have learnt day by day.

The first day: experiment

On the first day, I started with a pencil and used a Q-tip to blend it and create shadows. In the beginning, I was a bit meticulous, because I wanted to draw accurately from the reference. Then I switch to the colour pencil, after that I felt a relief because I allow myself to draw whatever I want and this is my exercise, not a complete piece so that I don’t need to seek approval from anyone. After the pressure’s gone, I just draw the face with colour pencils and made it a big mess.

The second day: accuracy

The second day, I use a pencil to draw everything, I used some blending techniques for shadows again, and on number 13, I create the shades with crosshatching. I use more of that in the following days, you will see. I would say this is probably the cleanest and the most accurate day in the ten days, I did focus on the proportion and to reach the accuracy.

The third day: colour pencil blending

The third day, I switched to a bigger sketchbook. This paper can hold some water, so I drew with colour pencil then add some water to blend it. Some skin part was painted with watercolour. I recently really like the colourful skin technique, which is to combine different colours on skin and use complementary colours for the shadow. So on number 27, I use pink and green, and number 30 I use red and green for the skin.

The fourth day: mix-media

The fourth day, I start from the pencil sketch of these two heads. One is extremely long, and another one is a square. I think it’s interesting because these faces are so characteristic. Then on the number 32, I use watercolour first to build the light and dark area, then I use a bit of blue gel pen on the top. Then as you can see, this one is a charcoal pencil, and this one is drawn with a gel pen and the watercolour background, and this one is a pencil and watercolour. On this page, all of these head is painted in watercolour first, then use gel pen for the outlines.

The fifth day: Watercolor details

The fifth day I spent quite a lot of time on this because I went into the details. I sketched with a pencil first, then painted with watercolour. Layer after layer added the details of the hair and beard of these people. The paper is a 300 g watercolour paper, it absorbed the water really well, and the drawing looks so smooth. Apart from number 50, it’s painted with a gel pen because there’s no more space for another watercolour full portrait.

The sixth day: Make it simple

On the sixth day, I switched back to my small sketchbook. I decided to make it simple. I even skipped the pencil sketch part, only use a gel pen directly to draw. These are painted with dual marker pens.

The seventh day: Paint negative

On the seventh day, I found a blank black paper, so I paint with a white colour pencil and white gel pen. I love how the contrast looks. And on this page, I use a colour pencil to blend a bit. The green one is Dumbledore, one of my favourite characters in Harry Potter.

The 8th day: Capture the features.

On the 8th day, I painted small and ignore the details again. But I found that my proportion improved a lot and I can quickly sketch all of the heads in a short period of time. The key is to quickly capture the features and observe the distance and space between each facial features. My eyes look at the reference when I paint, so the drawings look like the character even just with very basic features.

The 9th day: Keep sane when things go wrong.

On the 9th day, I started by drawing these two characters with a marker pen. On the number 83, the reference photo was such a beautiful girl, I decided to paint her skin with watercolour, and I love the watermark on her face. And you might notice that the characters from 87 to 89 both look weird and messy, that’s because I didn’t like my painting on number 87 and tried to cover it with gouache, then I painted again but still couldn’t save it. So I lost patience and felt a bit angry afterwards. That’s why you need to have a good mood when painting because when you’re mad, it’s hard to calm down and do something that requires a lot of patience. But it’s not a big deal. When you don’t draw well, you can throw it away and start over.

The 10th day: The basics

On the last day, I came back to the basics. Just draw with a gel pen and build the heads with simple lines. Everything starts with the basics, and I am more than happy to complete this challenge.

The day after, I did a watercolour drawing of this elf and combined the colourful skin techniques. It took me around 2 hours from scratch, and I love how it looks. All of the practice and exercise are inside, and I think as every craft, the more you practice, the better you become, and there’s a guaranteed improvement through the exercises.

Happy painting!!!


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