Thursday, December 20, 2012

Binders Full of Women

-By Dan dos Santos


Everyone jokes about Romney's 'Binders full of women' comment. But creepily, I really DO have binders full of women... and men.

Whenever I hire a model, I always make it a point before they leave to shoot a 360˚ view of their head. Having these shots is really useful for lots of reasons. Firstly, it's just a wonderful opportunity to observe the inherent differences in proportions from one gender to the other, and even one person to another. Sometimes it's shocking just how much variance there is between faces.



Another reason I do this is for sketching. I usually don't use any reference when sketching concepts, but it's always nice to have something to fall back onto if I'm struggling. Since I do this with most of my models, I can actually refer to the exact model that I use for a particular job, and have a relatively good idea of what they are going to look like in my composition.

Last but not least, it's wonderful reference for background figures in paintings. Often times I overlook background characters, and don't shoot as much reference as I should have. If I'm in a jam, I can always course through my files, and find a head that fits decently well.

Of course the lighting will likely be a bit inconsistent, so I tend to shoot under a soft neutral light, or the common '3/4 portrait' light. This helps make the photos as versatile as possible.



To do these shots, all I do is sit my model in a swiveling chair. I start with a straight on portrait, and then slowly spin them 360˚ (It's much easier to spin your model than to spin the lights!). I then have them raise their chin, and do the process again. They then lower their chin, and do it yet again. This gives me virtually every useful angle possible.

The whole process only takes 5 minutes, and is money well spent. I've used the images more times than I can count. I highly recommend you try it yourself. After a few years, you will have a wonderful library of faces available to you.

18 comments:

  1. What are the odds of publishing your binders full of people as a download? :)

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    1. I don't think I would do that, for a few reasons. Firstly, when I hired the models, it was for the specific purpose of painting reference. I don't know the legality of selling their unaltered likeness, but I expect I would owe them royalties.
      Secondly, I depend on these pics a lot. I wouldn't want to do a portrait-centric painting, only to discover that someone else already used the same photograph as me.

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  2. This is a wonderful idea, Dan. Hey, how do you find your models? And can you give me a ballpark number on what I should pay one for this use?

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    1. I use www.modelmayhem.com all the time. I typically pay my models anywhere from $50/hr to $125/hr depending on circumstances, difficulty of the shoot and travel time. Sometimes I use family though, and it only costs me dinner ;)

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  3. Dan publish a reference book of all these photos. I will buy it for sure!

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  4. Same as CGriffin. How do you find your models?

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  5. I use www.modelmayhem.com a lot. It's a free site, which is good and bad. Free means a wide selection... it also means a lot of models who don't take it seriously and will flake on an appointment. I have had some real luck on there though, and depend heavily on those few.

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  6. G'day Dan,

    Apart from a specific pose you have mind for your model for the painting, is there any other posing process you go through to get bang for you buck? In other words like the above example do you get them to do other poses(unrelated to the painting) or is there several common shots you like to take. I'm curious because when your taking those first steps into using models for the first time its good to have a plan of shots, so time isn't wasted for both parties but its knowing what is the best course. Informative post by the way!

    Cheers,
    Rick.

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  7. Can I suggest a kickstart project to package and make available this resource to all artists? Perhaps in digital as well as analog form?

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    1. It would be cool if I could do different ages and genders from dozens of ethnicities. That's a really big project though.

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    2. include poses and I'd donate

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  8. That's not so creepy. Creepy would be having the heads themselves.
    Sorry, I was just looking at the Gahan Wilson cartoons. :-)

    Aaron

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  9. You are not the only one, I have a "female" folder with over a thousand references i have collected and a "male" one with about 700, not counting the ones with animals and arquitecture.
    Merry Christmas!

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  10. Is the male model Eric Fortune?

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