Portrait Drawing Tutorial .pdf
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Portrait Drawing Tutorial Page 1 "Blocking in the Head" This first page of the portrait drawing tutorial is all about drawing your block-in. The block-in is a map of the various information that you need to complete your portrait drawing. It addresses proportions, placement and construction of the head and features, shadow shapes, and even edge quality. The block-in is easily the most important part of this portrait drawing tutorial.
Step one! Decide how large you want your drawing to be on your paper. Jot down a measurement that will indicate the size of the drawing, such as the height, as I have done here.
As always, you want to work "general to specific". This means that you start with the largest, most general measurements (such as the height and width), and then move to incrementally smaller measurements until you get to the smallest, most specific ones. To figure out the width of the head, I measure the height with my pencil, from the chin to the top of the head, and then compare it to the width.
I notice that the width is slightly narrower than the height, and indicate this on my drawing.
I begin to map out the general shape of the head. I draw with light, straight lines so that they are easy to erase and edit.
Visualising the angles of the head There aren't many truly straight lines when drawing something organic (like a person!). Everywhere you look, you get some degree of curvature. However, creating the angles of the head with straight lines as opposed to curved ones will result in a more accurate drawing later on. To help yourself visualise straight lines, extend your pencil in front of you to see the angles of the head more clearly.
I begin to refine the contour of the head by breaking up the angles into smaller, more accurate segments.
Something I want to emphasize in this portrait drawing tutorial is to look for lines that flow into one another. For example: the hairline flows right into the line of the shadow being cast onto the neck. When connected, these lines create a beautiful S-curve. The more elements you can relate to each other on the face (such as these two lines), the more accurate and organic-looking your block-in will be.
Drawing the contour of the profile
As you begin drawing the contour of the profile, imagine straight lines from which you can measure certain points on the face. For example: I can imagine a vertical line originating at the front of the model's chin. This helps me see how far the lips, nose, and forehead extend to the right of the line.
I can also imagine a straight vertical line at the tip of the nose. This clearly shows me that the forehead almost reaches the line, but not quite. The nose extends to the right ever so slightly more than the forehead.
Now I know where to draw the forehead in relation to the nose! You can create these imaginary straight lines anywhere, and use them in any way that they are helpful to you.
Continuing the block-in for this portrait drawing tutorial! I now approximately place the ear and the features of the face. "Features of the face" refer to the eyes, nose and mouth.
How did I place the ear? Since I have already found the approximate location of the nose, I imagine a horizontal line through the tip of nose, and look to see how far above this line to place the ear.
I continue blocking in the large shapes of the face.
During this part of the block-in, I greatly rely on rhythms to help me place and connect all the elements of my drawing. Rhythms are curved lines that flow from one element of a picture to another, creating a kind of underlying structure that connects all the elements in the image. Read more about rhythms and how to use them here (coming soon)!
Refining the contour of the face To refine the contour of the face, I again rely on the measuring lines I used earlier. Remember the vertical line that I imagined at the tip of the nose? Look at the shapes created between that line and the contour of the face. These are called negative shapes. "Negative" refers to the space where there is no form. So, naturally, the "positive" shape would be the shape of the actual form (the face). Negative shapes are extremely useful in refining the contour of the face!
How to use negative shapes: As you draw, try to forget that you are drawing a face. Forget that you are drawing a forehead, a nose, lips and a chin. Instead, look at the negative spaces as abstract shapes, and draw them this way! This slight change in perspective might not seem like much, but it often results in a more accurate drawing. (Stay tuned for a new page on seeing and drawing negative shapes! Coming soon!)
Use straight lines to block in the profile of the face, just as you did when you were blocking in the large angles of the head. The straight lines help you clearly indicate the high points (the most protruding points) on the profile. Once I am confident in the placement of the features, I begin constructing them anatomically.
This stage of constructing the features is a combination of what you see and what you know. You often can't see the construction of the features clearly, so you have to have an idea of what is there in order to construct it accurately. Sometimes light can wash out certain information, or hide it in shadow...
You could not be sitting close enough to the model to see enough detail... Or perhaps the model has very soft angles that hide elements of the construction of the face. In all of these cases, it's important to have an understanding of head and feature construction so that you can fill in these visual gaps. (A portrait drawing tutorial with an emphasis on constructing the head and features of the face will be up soon!)
Voila! Here is my completed block-in for this portrait drawing tutorial. I have constructed the features, drawn in the shadow shapes, and indicated some of the differences in edge quality. I have also left some of the flowing rhythm lines, because they remind me that every element in my picture relates to something else, and that nothing exists in isolation. If I keep this in mind as I render the portrait, I am more likely to create an organic-feeling, unified picture.
Portrait Drawing Tutorial Page 2: Rendering the Portrait Shading, or rendering, is one of my favorite stages of drawing faces. It is so rewarding to see your portrait become three-dimensional, and slowly come to life. Now that I have created a block-in for my drawing, I am ready to work with value. Before you begin adding value to your drawing, remember that your block-in is of the utmost importance. Take as much time as you need to make sure that it is accurate.
You shouldn't have to make any drastic changes to the shadow shapes or structure of the picture during the value stage! Rendering your portrait will go smoothly if... the head and features are well placed and constructed you have closely observed and drawn in the shadow shapes, and you have a good understanding of value.
When you start drawing in the values, the initial goal is to cover the white of the paper as quickly as possible. Why? Because you can only judge the accuracy of a value by comparing it to its surrounding values!
If all that surrounds a value is the white of the paper, you will have no idea whether or not it is the correct lightness or darkness. So, after the block-in, the next step in drawing faces is to mass in the values.
Drawing Faces: Adding Tone to your Drawing Although I covered a lot of area in this step, it was actually very simple. All I did was mass in three values: a value for the background, a value for the dark shape of the hair, and a value for the light shape in the hair. It is already beginning to look three-dimensional because of the very soft edge that merges the hair shape with the background: soft edges recede, and sharp edges come forward. Learn all about edges on the Drawing Edges page. (Coming soon!)
I mass in the shadow shapes on the face with one or two values at most. I darkened the eye and nostril just so I don't completely lose the shapes. In this beginning stage of drawing in tone, I make the values even enough to compare them, but am not concerned with rendering. As I continue the drawing and notice what changes have to be made, I will have to modify the values, so it doesn't make sense to spend time beautifully rendering them at this point.
I continue drawing in the general value masses. Here I have laid in an approximate value for the light shape on the neck. I have also worked on the shadow portion below the ear, softening the edge where the hairline meets the neck.
Although this tutorial is about drawing faces, addressing the background and clothing can "complete the illusion". Treat the clothing as you would any other area of your drawing: by first massing in the general values. Once I have done this, I have reached an important stage in the drawing: the only area where I can still see the white of the paper is the light area on the face. I can now focus on comparing and modifying my
Drawing Faces: Analyzing the Values of the Face There are so many interesting tonal differences happening within the shadow shape on the face! There are two core shadows: at points A and C. This is happening because there are actually two forms on the side plane of the face: the cheekbone area, and the jaw area, both of which can be thought of as egg-shaped forms (as I have indicated). The light is perpendicular to the form where you see the highlight on the cheek. It then becomes darker until it can no longer reach the form (this is the core shadow, or Point A).
The form of the jaw then begins at point B. It catches a sliver of light from the light source before turning away at point C, which is the second core shadow. Point D is much lighter than the rest of the shadow due to reflected light. Light is reflected off of the model's chest, and bounces back up into the shadow under the chin.
Before you begin developing the tonal differences in the shadow on the face, notice how much information is lost when you squint at the area. In order to create the illusion of three-dimensionality, you must preserve the contrast between the light and dark value families in your picture. To create enough difference between the "lights" and the "darks", draw only what you see when you squint! Notice how dark I made the reflected light on my drawing, even though it appeared to be so light on the model.
Find and draw the "darkest darks" within the shadows on the face. In this case the darkest darks on the face are: the eye, the nostril, and just where the upper lip turns away and meets the lower lip.
Drawing Faces: Rendering
Begin rendering with a value or edge that seems easy and obvious to you. For example, I began shading by softening the edge of the hairline against the face. I then drew the gradation on the temple, from the shadow shape around the eye to the hairline.
Some schools teach that you should begin rendering on one side of the face and shade until you reach the other side. While this is a perfectly valid method, I, personally, prefer to render different areas around the face. I draw the values that are most clear to me and work towards the more subtle ones. You can also work from dark to light. For example, you can ask yourself: what is the darkest value on the light shape of the face? (What is the "darkest light"?)
Perhaps that bottom lip. Furthermore, that value may be easy to draw accurately because I can compare it to the value of the shadow just below it, and to the upper lip. Once I establish the value of the bottom lip, it becomes another variable that I can compare the rest of the values to.
From the lip, I move on to rendering the chin. I also begin drawing the different edge qualities of the eyebrow, and from there, begin rendering the forehead.
Continue rendering the face. Constantly refer to the model as you render, asking yourself questions such as: What is the lightest area on the face? Are there highlights on the face, and if yes, where are they? What is the sharpest edge on the face? What is the softest edge on the face? Is my eye drawn to my intended focal point when I look at my drawing?
Remember to step back from your picture regularly when drawing faces. Looking at it from afar will help you to notice what is working and what is not. I want the focal point of the picture to be the face. When I look at my drawing, I notice that the face isn't attracting and holding enough of my attention. Instead, I notice that my eye quickly drops to the light shape on the chest. Referring back to the model, I realize that I have slightly overmodelled the face.
Overmodelling occurs when there is not enough contrast between the light and dark value families. (A synonym for overmodelling could be "over-shading".) Basically, the lights in the face are not light enough. The highlights in particular could be considerably brighter. This weakens the value structure, and causes the drawing to look less believable. This is a common drawing problem to watch out for, particularly when drawing faces.
I have brightened the light areas on the face, and put in the finishing touches: the highlights on the nose and the lip. The clothing is drawn simply, so as not to distract from the focal point of the image: the face. And here is my finished portrait drawing!