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Bad Tom Brady portrait: How do you become a courtroom sketch artist?

A New York City courtroom sketch artist apologized Wednesday for her not-so-flattering depiction of Tom Brady. 

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (l.) sits with lawyers as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (far r.) listens to proceedings in Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York August 12, 2015.

Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

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A courtroom sketch of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has generated criticism from Internet users – and an apology from the artist responsible for the sketch.

Tom Brady was in a federal courtroom in New York on Wednesday for a hearing in his case against the NFL and the four-game suspension handed down for his role in "Deflategate," the deflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game in January.

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The courtroom rendering of Mr. Brady by Jane Rosenberg prompted an uproar from critics who said the sketch was inaccurate. 

Some social media users reacted swiftly, poking fun at the not-so flattering sketch:

Ms. Rosenberg, who has worked as a courtroom artist for 35 years, asked for forgiveness when the sketch went viral online. 

"Tell Tom Brady I'm sorry. He's a very good looking guy, and if I didn't make him look good enough, I'll try harder next time," Rosenberg said when VICE reached her for a comment.

"I'm working very quickly.... It's lucky if I have a few minutes," she explained. "Now, this Tom Brady thing, I did this whole wide shot with a million people in it. And everybody's focusing on that one little fraction of the whole picture, of Tom Brady," Rosenberg said. 

Courtroom sketches have been used for many years – since before the advent of cameras – to give outsiders a glimpse into a court trial. What does it take become a courtroom artist? 

The Art Career Project describes some necessary skills for a courtroom art career:

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Excellent drawing skills: Art school can help hone your skills and gain experience. Some courses that may come in useful for this type of career include portrait drawing, caricature drawing, and life drawing, all of which help artists capture the human form.

Excellent memory and speed: The majority of courtroom sketches are created within minutes. An artist needs to be quick-thinking and quick-handed. 

Calm demeanor, not easily riled: A courtroom sketch artist should be prepared to hear disturbing and shocking details of heinous crimes, including abuse, rape, and murder. 

And if today's outcry is any indication, courtroom artists could also benefit from a thick skin. "I'm my biggest critic," Rosenberg told VICE. "I feel terrible when I do a bad sketch."


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