You'll probably think that I've posted these two digital portraits out of order, since the first is much better than the second, but the first portrait is with photo reference, and the second is without. For my second sketch I wanted to see how much I could 'remember' about facial anatomy and color/shadow without consulting a reference.
Referenced from this photo by Faestock on DeviantART:
Primarily I'm trying to improve my facial anatomy. My biggest problem spots are noses - even in this sketch, when I finished, I realized the nose was actually too far to the left (her right) and I had to move it over. Even using a reference, I tend to go 'blind' when it comes to the human face (and body). This is something I hope to improve upon by practice.
No reference (and it shows!)
Here my weakness with noses is pretty apparent, as well as an all-around unfamiliarity with the human face. You'd think that being a human myself, I'd be pretty familiar with the features, but it's amazingly difficult to 'remember' all the subtleties to a nose, or the flaps of skin around the eye. The colors are also weaker compared to the first.
Today, I decided to have lunch on my favorite rock at a nearby wooded area that surrounds the town reservoir. On my way back, I found a stunning red maple leaf with bright green veins - a leaf that was probably just starting to turn but fell off the tree prematurely. I took it home with the intention to paint it, and noticed that by the time it was in my house, it had already started to darken and dull! It's as if autumn leaves have a built-in 'leave me outside' mechanism.
Autumn Leaf Study (watercolor on paper) :