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When friends got married a while ago, I wanted to make something special. Gifts can be tough though. You don’t want to just add to the junk people stuff in their houses. You want to give them something meaningful that is a good fit not only now, but ideally even 10 years from now.

Usually I try to go for gifts that enable experiences, rather than something solely materialistic. However, I figured an illustrated portrait of the two lovebirds would be timeless.

I have been experimenting a bit with digital drawings lately. So instead of making a physical drawing, I wanted to do cleaner digital portraits. I went through the Facebook pictures of the bride and groom and selected two charming pictures as base for my work.

Drawing portraits by tracing pictures digitally does feel somewhat like cheating; like I’m not making ‘real art’. It does make portrait drawing a lot easier. Especially if you compare it to my normal way of working: look at the original image and try to make the drawing resemble it as close as possible.

On the other hand, the minimalistic style I used here does have its own challenges. Because you rely on a couple of lines only, you have to choose the absolute right ones. What shadow do you darken? What wrinkle do you ignore? Which features are defining and which ones are only distracting? I would say this is the most difficult part of making black and white drawings like this.

Of course there are photo filters that give you a somewhat similar result in terms of contrast. However, they don’t take into account all the subtleties of faces and the personality of a person. They would never give you a clean minimalistic image like the one above.

For fun I added (part of) the original pictures I worked from. The final drawings were printed, cut out & placed on fabric in a frame.

Have you tried a creative process before that made you feel like a bit of a cheater? Is feeling that way inevitable when you are trying new creative processes or not?

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  • Reply

    Carly @ Zauberbear

    July 21, 2014 at 11:35

    Very cool! I’m totally floored that you can actually draw someone so well with such a limited style. They really look like the full-color humans they were drawn from!

    • Reply


      July 23, 2014 at 20:51

      It is amazing how little information your brain needs to make sense of it. For that reason I like looking at minimalistic (graphic) designs

  • Reply


    July 22, 2014 at 02:06

    this is an awesome idea! and i don’t think using photos is cheating, portraits are really hard, portraits you know for people you care about and are giving as gift, I think you can use all help you can get to give a wonderful gift :)
    Like you said it’s hard to know what shadows to keep and what to accent. they turned out great :)

    • Reply


      July 23, 2014 at 20:54

      I think it is cheating depending on your objective and what you make it seem like. For the purpose, I didn’t have a real problem with it (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have used it). If a drawing teacher gives you the assignment to draw from a picture and you just end up copying it, well, that’s a different story I guess

  • Reply

    Uncustomary Art

    July 22, 2014 at 20:53

    You’re seriously talented beyond belief.

  • Reply


    July 24, 2014 at 09:51

    This is a fabulous idea! And the portraits turned out great! I bought a graphic tablet last year and I´m terrible at drawing(haha!) so I practiced using it by tracing photos as well. I felt like it was cheating but it isn´t as easyas it looks either. I like the fact that you cut out the portraits and placed them on fabric. What type of paper did you print them on? What would be a good resolution to establish if I wanted to make an A4 size portrait? I´m so lost with these things…
    Thanks again for the inspiration!

    • Reply


      July 25, 2014 at 14:23

      Thanks! :) It was a thicker high quality paper. I guess 300 grams or something (got them printed at a local printshop). In photoshop you can set the size of a new document to A4. I believe the size equals 2480 by 3508 pixels (300dpi).


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