10 tips on how to learn to draw a portrait with a pencil

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10 tips on how to learn to draw a portrait with a pencil

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Treat your drawing as a game of comparing similar pictures and finding differences. You should have a good printout if you are drawing a portrait from a photograph. It is better to have the same size printout as the picture or have a magnifying glass. COMPARE. Compare every inch and every transition of tone, depth of shadow. This is a research work. But it’s a fun game when you have to find as many differences as possible.


Remember that your 10th portrait will be a little better than the first. And real progress will begin on the 15th. PRACTICE. In the beginning, it is better to really focus on quantity than quality. But you can get to a good level quite quickly, if you give yourself 100% in each portrait – analyze, research, try to bring to perfection. Do not quarrel and do not whine, but go and work on improving skills.


To quickly learn to draw a portrait, it is better to go through some pre-stages, namely – academic drawing. No course or courses required. All you have to do is buy a plaster cube, a ball, a cone in an art store (you can still use some parts of the face, but not necessarily).

To understand the object and shape, you should buy a plaster head “stump”. All these items in Ukraine cost around $ 10-20. There are tons of information and video tutorials on the Internet on how to draw these objects. FUNDAMENTALS – this is important. As Americans say first things first.


If you have learned the art of hatching so that it does not look like a net or hair, focus on CONTRAST. It is he who makes things voluminous and realistic. This is where an artistic portrait can defeat photography. The shadows deepen very gradually and you can choose where to enhance the contrast, where to soften it. I usually make bright, contrasting eyes, but you can also highlight hair or lips. Set yourself up to make as many different grays as possible. Gradients can be smooth, can be sharp.


Your progress depends not only on practice, but also on the INFORMATION you master. In master classes, when I correct someone, I say, “You didn’t notice this nuance because you weren’t looking, and you weren’t looking because you didn’t know what to look for.” In Google, enter the following terms: academic drawing, hatching-exercises, construction of the nose, construction of the eye, the tone of the drawing. See many analogues and video tutorials.


To make your work more professional each time, arm yourself with the following TOOLS: easel, tablet, pencils of different hardness, hard eraser, soft eraser, scotch tape, buttons, quality paper. Before you start, lay out everything ergonomically and organize your comfort. Lighting is also important. If you are working with the right hand, the white, bright light should be on the left side.


Make sure that your hand does not rub the already drawn details. To do this, place extra paper under the drawing hand or make sure that the hand moves only on the unopened part of the paper. If you are right-handed, hatch from the top left corner. There is such a technique – shading, but it will be a separate article. There should be no rubbing at the beginning, it can destroy the contrast and make stains. Also make sure that the pencil is sharp, and the gum should have sharp edges.


When you have marked all the details, do not worry that the face does not look like. Without a ton, it will not be similar. START hatching. It is important not to get stuck in one place and move “from general to detailed”. This is also my favorite phrase in master classes. At the beginning of the work you should not tune in to draw the perfect details and the appropriate tone. You will return to the same details hundreds of times and refine them gradually. The goal of the first 4 hours should be to fill the paper with tone as much as possible. Only the right, lower corner can be left empty, because there is the most moving hand. If you cook one part for more than 2 hours, especially when you are tired, there will be no result.


Bring the case to an end. This is a routine job that can take months at first. Especially if you do not organize the work properly, the pleasure is stretched and is no longer fun. MOTIVATION is important. Therefore I suggest to make dedelainy. For example, the sister’s birthday in two months, it is worth starting the portrait. If you can work on it every day and spend more than 2 hours, you may be able to cope much faster, but it depends on your already acquired skills.


The most important thing in a portrait is SIMILARITY. Identical similarity is very difficult to achieve. Every detail must be in place. Artists draw with additional lines so that the eyes are on the same level and other details take their positions. Looking for the right proportions, easily outline the details, then correct them. I can offer you to bypass the rules if you do not have time for a full-fledged art education. Make two printouts, draw the main lines on one with a black pen, glue with scotch tape on the window, then attach the paper, also fix with scotch tape. Translate to save time, nerves and get closer to similarity. You can also make a copy table. Two pedestals, between them the space where the lamp will shine. You put thick glass on the pedestals, you will paint on it. Take care of security. Maybe plexiglass or very thick so that it does not crack under your pressure. Trim edges and corners.

I want to see your masterpieces and offer you free consultations. Good luck.

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