August 5, 2022

Vector portrait of Emma Britten

I originally posted this drawing in 2019, but kept on working on it every now and then (which is what I often do). Many artists are familiar with this method of working, because after 'finishing' a drawing, it is more often than not discovered that the image needs more adjusting and / or additional work. At times this is a repetitively occuring moment, especially with portraits, in which likeness can depend on moving objects 1 or 2 millimeters, changing their size or shape, skewing them or fiddling with their colours. Faces are the most prominent visual characteristic of a person, which is why there is not a photo of your foot in your passport or ID card, but one of your face.

Emma Hardinge Britten was a well known spiritualist who lived from May 2 1823 to October 2 1899. She was a writer, public speaker, musician and opera singer in her younger days to support her family after her father passed away when she was 11 years old. Her spiritual gifts brought her fame and she was frequently consulted by high ranking politicians, corporate leaders and other important people of her day. It is an indication that elevated echelons of society value the spiritual reality that is intentionally kept hidden from common folk.

This portrait is a work in progress and is drawn in Affinity Designer. This program has all the functionality to create realistic vector portraits that can be edited afterwards relatively fast which is a pain to do with mesh-filled vector portraits. And since tinkering is almost a necessity for portrait artists Affinity Designer is their ideal tool to make 100% vector portraits that can be re-scaled to any size without loss of quality. However, this work also contains vector brushes, which are not really vectors - more about this later.

Had to place this here or else the ugly
image below will show up in preview

What makes vector portraits look realistic is that edges of shapes and lines can be blurred in a controlled way. In addition color fadings can be customized in any desired way (using different colours) as well as the transparency of objects (in a linear, radial, elliptical or conical fashion). The combination of these 3 functions allows artists to create works that are visually indistinguishable from pixel portraits, but - as stated before - can be produced in any desired dimension while retaining the original quality.

Ugly Adobe Illustrator attempt (no offence) to
create a realistic vector portrait, b.t.w., this
is caused by Adobe Illustrator's limited
functionality to create realistic art.

Outside of Affinity Designer only the magnificent free open source program Inkscape (which a difficult to learn UI) has similar features, be it that some of them are difficult to find in Inkscape's UI; CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator do not have object blur functions, except when converting objects to bitmaps first, and can not be converted back into vectors. These programs are therefore not suited to create realistic vector portraits, other than with the hideously tedious mesh-fill tool. The portraits not made with the mesh fill tool are very unrealitsic looking portraits with hard edges, as is shown in the image above. Adobe's marketing department has tried to turn this into the standard for vector portraits (in which it obviously succeeded) by suggesting that the programs shortcomings are some sort of artistic oddity that they turned into an alleged type of feature. But no matter how one looks at the result, these are not realistic portraits of high quality; they are at best a visual metaphor of realism.

This is the custom vector brush
created to draw realistic strands
of hair. This can be imported in
your collection of brushes and
used for this specific purpose.

This is the custom made brush used
to paint skin pores. Mix dark strokes
and bright strokes combined, the latter
always on top in the layer panel.

Apply 3D and or Bevel / Emboss fx
to the textured brush strokes to
create a realistic skin pore texture
and fiddle with the brush properties
use custom colour and transparency
overlays and underlays, whatever it
takes to approach realism as much
as reasonably possible.

So below you see a realistic vector portrait created in Affinity Designer. Bear in mind that at this point (September 2019) you are looking at the early stages; it will become more realistic as more work is done to the image. Skin pores and detailed strands of hair in particular will be applied. For the hair texture I created a custom brush that allows to create realistic strands, both dark and bright. The oldest stage is at the bottom - more recent stages are placed above that. Click on one of the images and they will be shown in Google's Lightbox, which (on a PC anyway) allows to scroll through the various stages to quickly see and compare the changes. The original size of the portrait in which it was drawn, is 80 x 62 cm, approximately ten times larger than the images submitted to this site.

Mind you - as I found out later - vector brushes in Affinity Designer do NOT create vectors, but are pixels created inside of a vector drawing program, that will remain bitmaps. So when creating realistic art with Affinity Designer, be sure to make large images in order to avoid blurring and jagged edges when using 'vector' brushes, if the intention is to make large prints of the image.

September 20 2019 00:09 virtually in 3D frame

September 20 2019 00:09

September 16 2019 stage 12
vector curves & Brush strokes
outline view (hugely helpful
in the process of drawing)

September 12 2019 11:50

September 11 2019 11:01

September 10 2019 17:20

September 9 2019 20:13

September 9 2019 16:43

September 9 2019 12:20

September 8 2019

September 8 2019

September 8 2019