Question about sketching an image



I'm a noob so forgive me. I have a couple of questions about sketching before airbrushing. I really want to get into doing more realistic type paintings from an image. I'm not sure exactly how to sketch the important parts. What are the important parts? I've seen videos that show the sketch before hand and it looks like a crazy bunch of lines to me! This would be a great tutorial video. I also want to know what kind of pencil to use for sketching. I recently did an abstract freehand painting on canvas. I used a regular pencil for a few reference lines but no matter how much I painted over them, they still came thru!! So frustrating! Thanks for any help!
When sketching , you paint, them erase the lines. You can also use watercolor pencils similar in color to your painting for sketching so they almost disappear if they wont erase all the way. Some surfaces also will not erase well. I have had my issues. I am still finding what works for me. So far graphite paper on the backside of poster board is ok , still get some lines left behind.

Look for Ricks post about the portrait class on Spreecast, he's doing this same thing, from reference to transfer to finished piece in 3 sessions. The first 2 are recorded so you can check out his method live, or it was. He is doing great with it and bringing along an old guy like
me and many others.

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There are so many ways to transfer an image to your surface that you are painting. Direct transfer by tracing. Projecting, Grid and out n out sketching.
Realism is well, it covers quite a few genres. Representational, sorta like the Impressionists, where you recognize what the subject is and it is realistic looking, but color is more important. Painterly, where it looks more like what you would see in an oil painting. It looks real but you can tell it's a painting. And then photo and hyper- realism.
It all depends on what you want to accomplish. I personally don't get all hot n bothered by hyper -realism. I rather like that my airbrushing looks more like oil painting than well, airbrushing. Makes me unique.
Ok off the ol' soap box....
What you want to trace out or outline are shapes of the dark areas. Starting with the darkest darks on your reference. You know, the pupil of the eye, the eye brows, the shadow of the mouth and nose, etc. It's just a map to tell you where those particular shapes go.
I was taught and told many times , Put any and all detail you think or know you will need to get the end result you desire .
So sometimes it is as simple as just doing the outline other times it is hours of laying in every piece of detail that you can see in the painting.
Than only paint what you see and not what you think .
Say if you are painting the nose . Do not look at it as a nose but as many shapes .
Daniel Powers saying is paint the shapes let the picture take care of it's self.
Yep. Your not trying to make a paint by numbers. But more like notes. When you have done some paintings you will know what you need. I don't like all the lines. I get lost. I like the general shape or outline and hard shadows. Then I like to know where transitions in light and shade are and I mark those with dashed lines. And that's it. If I add more then I'm constantly wondering "what is that?" And loose my flow.

I use a hard h8 pencil and sketch lightly. I cover the lines with the paint.
Wow!!! Such great responses! Thank you so much! The whole thing can be a bit intimidating! Your confidence gives me hope! I'm sure it's all about just doing it and learn from experience. It was similar learning to do hair. Getting in there and seeing the effects of what you do and how the shapes emerge. Thanks again!!!
You can also use an enlarger reference photo and cut out the major details, tape the ref to the board then super lightly spray those in, and I mean super lightly. It lays out all the important features just like a template but doesn't give that stencil look. Practice it some before trying it and you will see why I say super lightly. Too much paint and it looks just like a stencil, trust me I know. :)
wow...where to start?it all depends in a few things...first it depends on the job,second it depends on the support or substrate you are working on,third it depends on your drawing skills,fourth depends on the size you whant to work in and finally what do you want to do.all the above are right,but for example i have done all the above and combine all at the same time.for instance right now i did the the general drawing directly and then started to airbrush.the last time i did the drawing used tracing paper and put it in the support and finshed right there the drawing.sometimes i leave the the lines so it has an unfinished touch,also i do erase them since i want a neat job,or simply i let the paint cover the lines.

the lines are guides,very few do paint directly,alla prima,but even davinci did the general lines as guides of what and where to paint.also it depends on the dead lines you are working with!!!

the best is to keep it simple according to the complexity of the job,a simple paint requires very simple tracing,complex jobs require a little more complex tracing or drawing!!!

hope it helps!!!
depending on the "transfer method" and the image and its detail level you may need a very detailed sketch or compleatly the oposite just a basic layout . drawing books have lots of info about the initial "sketch" of a drawing the same principle apply if you ask me . tho i am still pretty noob but so far thats what i have read .
I don't like to use pencil for that reason, but if I do, it's super light and in the darker areas so it will get covered up. There are quite a few different ways to transfer an image, some are better for certain types of painting than others, and some is just personal preference. Some people like to just map out where the main features are, and fill in the detail later with the airbrush, others like to have more detail from the start. Just do whatever makes you comfortable, if lots of random lines look crazy to you, (and to me Lol. People sometimes use dotted lines and dashes as well as solid lines to indicate different fades and blends etc..........tumbleweed just blew through my tiny little brain) then just do what makes sense to you. You'll soon find a method or two you'll prefer to use.