How to Draw Portraits

Learning how to draw portraits is one of the most popular topics in art classes and among art students. This is partly because the artist is saying something about the person of whom they are drawing the portrait of through their artistic depiction of them. Leonardo Da Vinci was once quoted as saying that “the most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates”. Consequently, portrait drawing is one of the most honest forms of respect which someone can pay to someone else.

Back to the subject of how to draw portraits and how to do it well, however, even if you’ve never done one custom portrait . An easy way to prepare is by getting a small 8 inch by 10 inch preferably black and white picture of your subject so that you don’t have to avert your eyes too far for reference.

Here’s a specific trick/tip in how to draw portraits. You can use something known as grid drawing to replicate the drawing without fear of disproportioning any features. There is a tool which you can use to draw a grid, but you can also just use a ruler. Simply break up the original picture into equivalent boxes with a pencil, then repeat the process on your paper. This allows you to go in on a small scale and recreate piece by piece the original picture. Trace in the grid lightly with a pencil so that you can easily erase it once you’re done.

Another tip for how to draw portraits comes with going lightly over facial outlines. If you’ll notice, cheekbones, jawbones, most of the bones in the facial structure help to give definition to the face. This is a major part in hammering down the likeness. It’s small details like these that people don’t immediately realize but play a major role in the overall development of the portrait.

You can use the long end of the side of the tip of your drawing pencil for shading. Shading plays a large role in how to draw portraits as it always gives a nice shadowed effect to a facial portrait and a sense of professionalism. Experiment with the lights and the darks, particularly with juxtaposing the two next to each other. Remember, you have an eraser, so there are no mistakes. Just as you can blend the dark using your pencil, you can get some interesting results by reversing this effect by lightly going over it with your eraser so that the two flow into each other more evenly and realistically.

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