What you need
Photos of your loved one
Pencil or Ink Pens
Digital portrait- If you have some knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and already have the photos on your phone or computer, you can import them into the program and create the portraits digitally. I prefer this as I can scale the drawings to a larger dimension. You can also undo mistakes and save paper.
I had planned to hold a second memorial in NYC in the Fall of 2021. Our favorite season is autumn; New York is the prettiest with all the fall colors. He has expressed his desire to open a salon, The Hair Project, where he can work with his stylist friends.
After his first memorial, I selected my favorite pictures of Douglas and started drawing his portraits. I wanted to honor his life and dreams while using The Hair Project as a platform to help others.
You don’t have to be a skilled artist to draw a portrait. Follow the directions below and try to have fun with it.
- Place the tracing paper over the photo, use the pencil, and start tracing the outlines of the face and body first.
- Then proceed with the facial features and details around the body. Finally, use simplified lines to create the folds on the clothing.
- The last detail to add is the hair. You don’t need to draw every single strand. Instead, follow the outline of the top of the hair to give the hairstyle shape, then add a few strands to create depth and dimension.
- Repeat steps 1-3 if you are not happy with the outcome.
- Try using the ink pen to draw over the pencil lines. You can make the lines look thicker in places with more shadow.
If you are comfortable using Adobe Illustrator, proceed with this program to create your portrait.
- Import as many photographs as possible into a new Illustrator file and place them in a grid layout.
- Make sure the photos are on the same layer. Then, name that layer “Photographs” and lock the layer.
- Now create a new layer and name it “Portraits.”
- Select the Brush tool and in the Brush Definition menu, select the .5 oval setting to create thicker and thinner lines.
- Start tracing the outline of the face on the “Portraits” layer.
- Then proceed with the facial features and details around the body. Use simplified lines to create the folds on the clothing.
- The last detail to add is the hair. You don’t need to draw every single strand. Simply follow the outline of the top of the hair to give the hairstyle shape, then add a few strands to create depth and dimension.
- Remember to save the file.
- Once you are happy with one portrait, you can repeat steps 5-7 until you are done.
Results and Reflections
Losing a husband is the hardest thing in life—especially when I could never imagine a life without him. The thought of forgetting or losing memories of our time together was scary and a reality.
Douglas suffered from mental health issues and addiction, making the last two years extremely difficult for us. After his passing, it took me a while to be at peace with the situation and understand some of the causes behind his actions. However, he cared for me and provided so much love during our time together that I didn’t want the last moments of his life to overshadow all my wonderful memories with him.
Before his passing, I hardly thought about the past and tried to enjoy our life in the current moment. While working on the portraits, it was nice to be reminded of our adventures together and include them in my daily journal. I feel grateful to have shared my time with him, knowing we did our best to support and love each other.