Mammoth Memory

Realism – Representing a person, location or thing in a way that is accurate and true to life

(Pronounced ree-uh-liz-uhm)

Note: This does not mean photorealistic, it simply means you can tell what the subject of an artwork is, rather than it being abstract, surreal or impressionist.

To remember the meaning of realism, recall the following mnemonic:

My only real criticism (realism) is that the painting looks so real it might as well be a photo.

My only real criticism (realism) is that the painting looks so real it might as well be a photo.

Realism refers to artworks that show a realistic, true to life version of their subject matter, rather than one that is abstract, made cartoon or painted in a surreal or impressionistic way.

Below are two famous paintings that could be classified as realism:

Leonardo Da Vinci, The Mona Lisa, 1503-1506

Leonardo Da Vinci, Mona Lisa, 1503-1506

Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857

Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners, 1857

Realism Project

Rather than simply painting an image and trying to draw it as accurately as possible, an interesting take on realism is to find an image such as a cartoon that is in no way real and apply realism to it, making it believable. 

The first step is to find a cartoon character to use, we have opted for Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

The first stage is to decide on a cartoon character to use. We have opted for Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

Once you have chosen a character, we need to apply it to a more realistic form. You can use the Mammoth Memory proportions of a face page to help with this.

There you will find a guide to the proportions of an average face:

The image below shows the proportions of a face mapped out:

You now need to apply your characters features to the guide, to make them fit to a more realistic form. Roughly transfer the features across to find a compromise that works well and looks realistic whilst still recognisable as the character.

Roughly transfer the features across to find a compromise that works well and looks realistic whilst still recognisable as the character.

Once you are happy, you can draw around the lines you are happy with and remove any sketches along with the guide.

Try to keep your outline quite faint, as in realism there are very few outlines – people don't have an outline in real life, do they?

Once you are happy, you can draw around the lines you are happy with and remove any sketches along with the guid

You can now add colour to your image, start with the flesh tone, blocking in one base tone to work from:

You can now add colour to your image, start with the flesh tone, blocking in one base tone to work from:

You can now add lighter and darker tones (by mixing white or black with your base colour) to start building the form of the face.

You can now add lighter and darker tones (by mixing white or black with your base colour) to start building the form of the face.

Now you have a basic three dimensional form painted it becomes easier to process. You can use the Mammoth Memory value page to help make colours to block in for the other features.

Now you have a basic three dimensional form painted it becomes easier to process

Keep working on your portrait, adding the details such as the hair and earrings. Look at photos of faces, or your own face in a mirror and try to mix the tones you need in order to create the best outcome. Think about warm and cool colours, it will help build a form.

Continue until you are happy with your outcome:

Continue until you are happy with your outcome:

You can apply the process to any cartoon character you like:

You can apply the process to any cartoon character you like:

More Info