Portrait Drawings Advices

7 Easy Advices on drawing portraits. Learn how to improve your portrait drawing and make it look more realistic.

1. Proportion

While every face has a series of unique features, a general proportion is useful for portrait drawings. When you have enough experience you can easily make adjustments to the proportions to fit a custom description. The face starts out as a stand up rectangle divided into six equal squares. Inside the top four you can draw a circle that will be the top of the head. The chin goes down from both sides of the circle down to the base of the rectangle. The eyes will be at the middle of the rectangle while the nose will be a third of the bottom squares. The mouth is in the middle of the bottom squares. The ears run from the top of the eyes to the bottom of the nose. This is just a rough sketch:

2. Eyes

The eyes are the most essential part of the drawing. No matter what the cartoons tell you, they are not dots inside circles. The eyes are of spherical shape, but they are not fully visible, as they are partially covered by the eyelids. Take your time when drawing the eyes.

3. Nose
When drawing the nose keep in mind where it’s pointing. If it is pointing directly at you then you can not see any hard edge of the bridge. Instead you see a combination of shadows and highlights. The only lines you can make out are those of the nostrils and tip of the nose.

4. Mouth


The biggest mistake people make when drawing a mouth is that they are trying to shape it through hard lines. The key is to observe the shadows the mouth is casting. Under the lower lip you can observe a bigger shadow. On top of the upper lip you can observe a highlight. The only hard line should be between the two lips.


5. Ears
Don’t overlook the ears. Although they are usually not an important feature, if done sloppy they can make the whole portrait look clumsy and hasted. Take your time and observe. Remember that although the ears have the same structure, they can be very different in size and shape.

6. Hair

One of the most difficult tasks when beginning to draw portraits is drawing the hair. The hair can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colors. Each of this can be accurately represented if you follow some simple steps. Start by drawing the overall shape, move on to the highlights and shadows. Then draw whatever makes that hair unique. Is it curly? Is it long or short? Different hair lengths produce different results. Don’t be afraid to draw some loose hair strings around, but don’t over do it.

7. Shading

You can give depth to your drawing by shading and highlighting. Observe the way the light flows and shade accordingly. In a natural environment (ex: outside) the parts that will receive the most light are the tip of the nose, the cheekbones and lower lip. But that depends on the position of the subject, light source and of course the shape and size of the features. That why is very important to observe carefully.

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2 Comments on “Portrait Drawings Advices”

  1. Great, classical advice on portraiture. Every serious draftsman should memorize these key points. Great job!

  2. As a Newbie, I am always exploring online for articles that can help me. Thank you


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