Giveaway portraits

Giveaway portraits - student project

Hi guys,

I'm Matej Jan and welcome to my project! I come from Slovenia, Europe, but am a very recent transplant to California, USA. Nice to meet you all!

The story so far

In 2011 I graduated from computer science, but what I really want to do is illustration. My New Year's resolution for 2012 was to learn how to draw portraits with pencils. I set out to do one per week and managed to stick with it for about 3 months.

This is where I started:

Giveaway portraits - image 1 - student project


Giveaway portraits - image 2 - student project

And this is where I came too at the end:


Giveaway portraits - image 3 - student project


Giveaway portraits - image 4 - student project

I mainly switched to digital art afterwards, but as I saw this class coming from Gabrielle I knew it was time to give pencils another run. I always enjoed her works and the amazing progress she made from her first posts to where she is today. 

So far I've watched through the videos and bought all the materials. I've never used mechanical pencils or blending before so it'll be interesting to try new techniques.

To make it more fun I asked on Facebook and deviantArt for people to give me ideas and requests so I'll be doing about 5-6 portraits as a giveaway.

The portraits I did back in 2012 could easily take 10 or more hours and I can't afford to take so long right now. Instead I'll try to learn to sketch faster and so the first few portraits will be quicker warmup sketches. For the final project I'll try and do one significant portrait.


Here's my first quick (2h) portrait on toned tan paper and some colors added at the end.

Giveaway portraits - image 5 - student project

Second warmup, a friend that loves Star Trek asked for Kate Mulgrew. This is done after watching all the videos and so it's already more in Gabby's style. It took longer (5h) with more emphasis on shading and white chalk.

Giveaway portraits - image 6 - student project

Final Project

This was supposed to be another warmup, but I was busy with other projects for the rest of December so I'm just submitting it as the final project before the review deadline.

It took about 10 hours and is done in exactly the style taught by Gabby: bristol vellum paper and only 3H/4B. The video on hair was especially useful.

I also recorded a timelapse.

Giveaway portraits - image 7 - student project

A longer video with all the uncut timelapse shots is below:

Giveaway portraits - image 8 - student project

Thanks for this class and I wish everyone a creative 2014!

Update December 2015

Hi again everyone. It seems some of you still come across this project of mine (from 2013), so here's a new portrait I did in 2015 with the same technique. Enjoy!

Giveaway portraits - image 9 - student project

Thanks again to Gabby for doing this class and btw, if you didn't know, she's now on Patreon and she has a new digital class right here on Skillshare!

Happy 2016 this time! Practice always makes you improve. And because of that, I also started to make a game for learning how to draw called Pixel Art Academy. First public version will be out in Fall 2016. Cheers!

Matej Jan
Illustrator, pixel artist, game developer