We have over 7 billion people in this world, and I have honestly never seen a true doppelganger. You know how people compare photos of two or more celebrities and call them “twinsies?” Maybe I’m guilty of confusing one for another in a movie in which only one appears, but looking at photos side by side, you can tell who is who. And let me underscore the fact that it’s a photo comparison and not videos in which you can compare body language, etc.
All this to say… When it’s not the girl, it’s not the girl. In this case, it is not Da Vinci’s Study for the Head of a Girl, c 1483.
I thought it was a simple drawing, so I wanted to aim for the true size, which was maybe fifteen percent bigger than how it is in the book. I want to say that the subtle change in size, as opposed to making it an even 100% bigger, threw me off, but I think it was in how complicated the drawing really is. It’s simple in that there are fewer lines, but it’s complicated in that each line does more work: a small change in a small line, especially those depicting the eyes, can make a big difference and their being “off” that much more noticeable.
Step 1. I began with a grid.
I divided a photo copy of the original into ten, horizontally, and then because it wasn’t easy to divide it vertically into ten, I cropped some from the top and bottom before dividing the middle into ten. I then made a similar grid on a slightly larger piece of paper.
I remembered to crop a proportionate amount off the top and bottom before dividing the middle into ten. Each division was now 1.69 cm, which was difficult to draw lines for… but I had to let this go because if I tried to crop more from the top and bottom, to make each division an even 1.5 cm, for example, I would have to adjust the divisions again in the original.
… and grids can only help you so much anyway.
I then did my best in pencil… but looking at it now, I can see the right eye (what the figure would call her left eye) is a bit off.
Step 2. Apply ink.
I know. It’s bad. She either looks “haunted” or she’d just been in a brawl… and you might not notice but there’s a hole in the right eye.
I realized after applying ink how off it was and tried desperately to fix it. “Fortunately,” I could erase the ink, but only at a cost to the quality of the surface of such delicate paper. Well, it’s not that delicate, but I learned the hard way that I had to be careful with how many times I went over it with ink or pencil.
Step 1. Make a carbon copy of my first attempt.
Step 2. Go by eye to clear up the lines.
I didn’t go further than this, because it didn’t look like her and that blasted right eye… I was already boring a hole into the paper. So I put it away for the day… which then turned into more than a week.
Step 1. Make a grid.
Step 2. Line up the carbon copy of the first attempt onto the grid. The carbon copy helped me save time on the hair and body, while the grid helped me redraw all the lines for the face.
Step 3. Apply ink.
It’s better than my first two attempts. However, she doesn’t look quite as “sharp”… and I really can’t explain why. I further divided each square, around the eyes, into eight, vertically and horizontally, and I still couldn’t get it right. I finally relented and erased the grid lines, and then had to go by eye and redraw what the eraser had erased, which made no difference — I’d memorized how to draw her eyes a particular way, including whatever I was doing wrong.
Well. Like the title says, Never say never! I mean, I’ll try again… but not any time soon.
Ballpoint pen, black
Laid paper, slightly grey-blue, 90 gsm (I purchased this online but I forget from where.)
Copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Study for the Head of a Girl, c 1483, from Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings.