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Scroll Saw Portraits Using Gimp - L7

gimp class video tutorial pattern making


Welcome to Lesson 7. We're starting to wrap things up a bit. Only one more lesson to go! Last time I left you hanging without teaching you much about taking the base pattern and creating a scroll saw pattern. Instead, I talked about how to use the brushes to clean up the image and we talked about the elements that create a scroll saw pattern. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to give you a chance to experiment with it on your own. And second, there really isn't anything to teach! The fact is, there is no magic formula for creating scroll saw portrait patterns. Much of it relies on your own interpretation. You must decide on what stays and what needs to removed. Since it is all subjective, there's not much direction I could give you in that area. However, this lesson, I'll give you a few tips that I have run across when creating my own patterns. We'll be talking about the facial features.

Matthew writes the eyes are the windows to the soul. This is really true. I always start on the eyes first because if you don't get the eyes right, the portrait just won't work. I'll also let you in on a trade secret. Professional photographers and cinematographers will often put a light behind or attach a light to the camera. They do this so there is a little reflection of the light in the eyes. Take a look at professional photographs and you'll see a square light source reflected in their eyes. This little glimmer in the eye adds so much life to the portrait, it will really amaze you. The picture of William Shatner was taken by a professional photographer and you'll see the highlight in his eye already. Try taking the paintbrush and blacking out those glimmers. Look at his eyes now. They are dead and shallow. This may be the look you're after if you're doing a portrait of Charles Manson, but for most people, you'll want that glimmer. Even if the original picture does not have the glimmer in the eye, I add it anyway. It may look like a minor detail, but it makes a major difference. I really can't stress this enough. It is very important.

Lets take a look at eyelids. The upper eyelid is close to the eyebrow which will cast shadow on the lid. The majority of the skin resides in the upper eyelid, which creates a lot of folds and creases. You'll also notice, your eyelashes are much darker and longer on the upper lid. So it stands to reason this is where the majority of your detail will reside.

The lower eye lid blends into the face much easier. The hairs are much finer and lighter than the upper lid. There is very little detail on the lower eyelid, and many times not necessary to include in the pattern. So depending on how prominent the lower eyelid is in your original picture, you probably need very little, if any detail, here.

The inside corner of the eyes (tear ducts) really depend on the portrait. Shatner's picture, these areas are fairly distinct, so we've included them with the upper eyelid. Other times, you may want to only hint at the general shape, or exclude it altogether. Much depends on the original picture and how prominent they are.

Crows feet (wrinkles at the corner of the eye) are a lot of fun to work with and will add a lot to your portrait. This is the character in the eyes. Womens' portraits you may not want to get too carried away, but a hint is always nice. Mens' portraits you have much more liberty and often improves the overall impression of the portrait. Children rarely have these lines, so I'd exclude them as much as possible.

Bags under the eyes can be tricky. People often have a darker color under their eyes which the software may interpret as shadow. You'll have to decide if you want to include them or not. Usually, if it is just a darker color, I do not include it in the portrait. However, if their are creases or wrinkles and it contributes to the overall character of the face, I will include them.

The nose can cause some problems. Depending on the portrait, the bridge of the nose tends to blend gradually into the face. Gradual changes like this pose some problems because it is hard to see where the shadows begin and end. Shatner's portrait, there is a distinct shadow that falls from the bridge of the nose and into his right cheek. For this, we'll just clean up the shadow a bit and call it good. Portraits of women, this shadow will play much less of a role. If you put too much shadow on the nose, you may lose the glamor look for a woman's portrait. For children, this shadow is pretty rare as their nose doesn't protrude enough to create a deep shadow.

The area where the nose meets the upper lip does tend to be abrupt, which will create a lot of shadow lines. This is where we tend to focus our efforts on. Naturally, men you have a lot more latitude to play with shadow. Women portraits, we don't want to add too much detail or we lose the glamor look we're after. Shadows cast by the tip of the nose, creases between the nostril and laugh lines may be placed. Portraits of children, this plays even less of a role. Normally I outline the bottom area of the nose (nostril, side of the nostril and tip of the nose) with slight shadow. Again, your original picture will dictate how much detail needs to be added here.

For most people, the color or your lips are a different color than the rest of your face. Software may interpret this as shadow and darken it. It is a temptation to darken these area, but you run the risk of making it look like lipstick. Often, I'll bring out the shadow line where the two lips meet. I also might hint at the general shape of the upper lip. There is a shadow that happens under the bottom lip that I'll also darken in. These shadows are usually enough to indicate the shape of the lips without darkening in the lips.

One would assume that if a person is wearing lipstick, you would darken in the lips. While this is somewhat true, lipstick is glossy when applied. Therefore, it will reflect light and create a highlight. So make sure you include the highlight in the lips. This highlight will convey the lipstick much better and give the lips dimension.

For children, I'll usually put a line/veining where the two lips meet and another line under the bottom lip. Don't get too carried away with shadow with children.

The corner of the mouth usually have a bit more shadow. This may be an area where you can create laugh lines as well. You can be more liberal with the laugh lines of men. Women, however, you may only want to put a crease in the corner of the mouth, and one where the nostril meets the cheek. This will only hint at a laugh line without drawing attention to it. Children rarely have laugh lines, but they may have chubby cheeks you can play with.

Ears are interesting because there is a lot of texture, creases, and shadow to play with. It is easy for us to get carried away here. The trick with working with ears is to remember it is only an ear. Nobody really cares about ears (other than having one). Everybody is more interested in the face. So with the ear, I may hint at an outline of the ear with a line coming from the hair line, and another coming from the neck to outline the earlobe. Remember, the jawline often goes past the earlobe, so I extend the jawline a bit to give the ear a sense of depth. The fold at the top of the ear creates a nice shadow, so I'll usually include that. I'll also include the bump between the jawline and the ear canal with a bit of shadow. Usually, this is enough detail for the ear.

The hair is the fun part. This is your opportunity to get creative and create some really interesting shapes. This area is the most forgiving, so go crazy and have fun. Create lots of irregular lakes and interesting peninsulas. Be sure to bridge delicate areas so they don't break while sawing. Just have fun.

Light or white hair can provide a challenge, mostly because there is very little shadow to play with. For these situations, you'll have to hint toward the shape of the hair with minimal detail. Perhaps some veining to indicate outline of the hairline. Or perhaps a few dark spots with some veining to indicate the flow of the hair. You can see the Einstein portrait below, I only hinted at his hair with veining/outlines.

Bald heads are similar to light/white hair. The only difference is you may have to hint at the shape of the scalp. Veining the outline is probably your best bet. Areas that a person may have hair (by the ears), you can throw in a few shadows there to reinforce the idea they have a bit of hair left over. ;)

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A Few Notes
You'll notice that portraits of men may be easier. This is because they tend to have much more shadow and wrinkles you can play with. With men, these interesting imperfections is called "character." Women portraits, you don't have as much latitude. This is because their face tends to be softer, they wear makeup, and if you highlighted every wrinkle on your wife's portrait, you'll be sleeping on the couch! Women portraits we want to add glamor and beauty. It may be completely cultural and a bit sexist, but I find it to be true more often than not. With that said, if the character of the portrait calls for those lines, by all means add it. You certainly wouldn't recognize Mother Theresa without all of her wonderful wrinkles.

Portraits of children are similar to women in the fact their face is much softer. They don't have many sharp lines or shadows to play with. You'll find their eyes tend to be larger, eyebrows less prominent, noses smoother, and their mouth smaller. They're a tricky one to pull off, but when you do, they're an awesome keepsake.

A Cool Tip
I should have covered this in the last video, but I forgot. One trick I always use is to copy the original layer and put it on top. This acts as a photo reference. If I have some question about a section of my base pattern, I can toggle the original picture on and off to see what I'm looking at. It really helps me decide if I should keep that detail, or remove it. Just make sure you're painting on the correct layer while working, or you'll say many bad words after discovering the mistake. ;)

Take a look at other artist's portrait patterns and look at how they approached the facial features, especially the eyes.
Continue working on your pattern. Revisit the facial features you had trouble with.


i have to totally agree, the eyes make or break any project, i use gimp and can make some killer patterns, my screen does not look like yours, is there is different version out there, i am running gimp 2.7, i have the tutiorals and i really like this program and want to master all it can do, i still have not found out how to make intarsia or segmentaion patterns yet,

are you familiar with wacom tablets?

i have to totally agree, the eyes make or break any project, i use gimp and can make some killer patterns, my screen does not look like yours, is there is different version out there, i am running gimp 2.7, i have the tutiorals and i really like this program and want to master all it can do, i still have not found out how to make intarsia or segmentaion patterns yet,

are you familiar with wacom tablets?

I believe this video was using GIMP 2.6, which is the latest version. I don't think 2.7 has been released yet unless you're a beta-tester. You can customize the interface to suit your needs. You can find out more information on customizing in Lesson 3.

I typically use a mouse for everything I do. I find that I have very good control and can accomplish what I need. I've used tablets in the past. They're a little tricky to get use to, but when you do, you'll love it.

I'm glad you're enjoying the class. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. :thumbs:

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