I Did the #OneWeekPortrait Challenge: Here’s how it went

This isn’t the first time I had heard of the One Week Portrait Challenge by Paintable, in fact, I’ve been part of the Facebook group for a long time and finally decided to take the plunge and partake.

The format was pretty straightforward, we sign up to participate, the artist in charge of this community sends out emails with the instructional videos and we follow along for 5 days.

I’m usually the kind of person who likes to start and finish a drawing in one sitting, lest I never finish. However, this challenge allowed me to face my greatest flaw as an artist: my lack of patience.

Drawing and art and illustration takes the ability of perception to a whole other level. It’s for rendering what we see in front of us or in our minds, but the brain plays some tricks. It’s not the eyes that see, but the mind. So when I stare at my one drawing over the course of hours only to not discover anything new, it’s because my mind is filling in the gaps, preventing me from perceiving them.

A pause. A rest. A break.

This drawing challenge urged me to take each phase of my drawing only one day at a time. And every time I returned to it, I saw something new. I think drawing, like coding, is not about staring at something so long it merges with the background, but to look away and see it with fresh eyes as if seen for the first time.

My aim as an artist is to look at my art and see its completion, to feel a sense of wonder and know I delivered at a degree of excellence I have not previously done. So I am very grateful for the structure and guidance this portrait challenge posed.

Now, the results, as drawn on an iPad with an Apple Pencil using Adobe Fresco:

Day 1: Sketching

My first sketch

I rapidly saw flaws, especially because I’m trying to draw my boyfriend who I very much love and wanted the illustration to show it!

Some tweaks… getting there
And I finally realized his face is longer than previously rendered

Phew, sketching was hard! The main aim is to get the main shape and location of features

Day 2: colors!

He is a little pink, I think
I started to see something I could be proud of!

The aim in day 2 is to choose mid, shadow and highlight tones! That’s why it is important to originally choose an image with high contrast areas. So the face looks like it has planes and not like a flat object.

Day 3: Blend, blend, blend! 

No, it’s not a makeup tutorial, but it might as well be! I gave my boyfriend a nice contour job on Day 2, and on Day 3 I have to blend the edges to make the overall image cohesive and more realistic. At this point I started to freak out a little, because the drawing looked like an actual human being. 

My document (61)

Day 4: Detalles! Details, people! 

This day was all about getting the details done so that skin looks like skin and hair looks like hair. And t-shirts… look like purple things. I really enjoyed this bit, but it was also the part that took the longest and set me back to Day 3. I kept on blending and then trying to blend less. My boyfriend has pores like the rest of us so I couldn’t turn him into a social media beauty guru without his consent. This is what I ended up with: 

My document (61) 2

Day 5: STYLE

Day 5 was all about making this piece my own. And, by far, this was the hardest step because for me every time I am finishing up a piece I always feel like there’s something more I could do and, before I know it, I’ve done too much. So instead of thinking about me and my style, I decided to think about who he is and what matters to him, which brought me back to my creative turf. 


I love drawing cats, in all shapes and forms: 

And my boyfriend is the ultimate cat father. Thus dubbed, I stylized the background for him to be THE CATFATHER. In the future, I think taking the final stylization into account would help make the whole piece more cohesive 🙂 

Here you can see the source material I worked with ^-^ He’s so handsome, but he hates this photo. I can see when they are side by side, that my skin color choices aren’t as vibrant, so he looks a little worse for wear, the angle isn’t as dramatic, and I couldn’t quite capture that Mona Lisa smirk he’s sporting. Better try next time! 🙂 

Key Takeaways: 

  1. This challenge helped me slow down in the creative process.
  2. I learned the different considerations that go into drawing a realistic facial drawing.
  3. Not everyone is going to give/get feedback. I didn’t get any feedback on my posts, unfortunately. I think I may have missed some criteria or maybe my piece wasn’t attention grabbing enough to merit a comment.
  4. I know that the key to improve is to also not shy from self-critique, so that’s what I did. I also read what feedback other’s were getting and it helped to apply observations to my own piece.
  5. Iterate and keep going. The challenge is inspiring people to try something they never have or do it in a new way. So now to draw many, many, many more faces.
  6. A creative project gains momentum from a clear, defined task, a pre-set deadline, and consistent time breakdowns. So in this case: draw a portrait, in 1 week, with each day having a different focus. 

I am so grateful for David Belliveau (and Paintable) for running this week long free course and I encourage you to try it! It’s mainly geared to digital painting in Photoshop but it can be achieved in any digital app or even on paper or canvas with physical paint/color pencils! 

Where there is a will, there is a way. 

So always go for it, and you might be surprised by what happens! 


PS: I publish every Monday after work 🙂 Come by for something new/interesting/artsy/tech-y ❤

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