This guide is for the people who say "I can't draw
" but want to
be able to make portrait
s of people
. I've taken almost no formal
es and have very limited technical knowledge about the
, drawing, and everything
else for that matter. In
fact, I'm just a computer geek
. As such, this guide will take a
similar form to various technological guides I've been influenced
by. That is to say, it's raw and specific, trivializing every
aspect of humanity presented herein. Still, people seem to like
my art, so here goes...
The first thing the aspiring artist needs to make quality
drawings is proper equipment. Good equipment is like having a
low ping in a quake game. It emulates skill. A lousy player
with a T1 can generally take down a good player on a 28.8.
Similarly, even an inexperienced artist can make really nice
drawings with good supplies.
It is recommended that a variety of pencils are used, if
possible, but a #2 will be fine. Ideally, 3B, HB, and maybe 4H
can be used for a better effect. These are just my personal
preference, but so is most of the stuff in this guide.
Paper quality is important because it determines the texture the
graphite takes on when it's applied. I know almost nothing about
paper but generally, any tablet that says it's drawing paper
and costs between 5 and 10 cents (US) a sheet will probably work
fine. Typing paper, or printer paper as it's now called, will
be ok for practice but it won't produce good results.
There are a few other things that are useful. In my
experience, the best erasers are Magic Rub. The best pencil
sharpeners are eyeliner pencil sharpeners because they cut the
graphite instead of grinding it like other sharpeners and this
lets you make a knife like edge at the tip for detail. My
favorite surface to use under my paper is a mirror, though I
have also found the smooth side of the side of a computer case,
a chalkboard, and a countertop to be suitable surfaces.
Ok, the most important thing to do first is override your set
of symbols associated with the human face. Draw a quick sketch
of a face, then look at a picture of a real face and notice the
differences. Maybe you put the eyes too high on the head or you
made the ears too small, forgot eyebrows or something. Measure
angles and sizes of things to get a feel for how the face really
looks. The eyes, for example, are in the middle of the head and
the end of the nose is about as wide as the distance between the
eyes. Keep looking at the comparisons of the parts of the face
and how they go together.
Look at your face drawing again. Look at how you drew the parts
in relation to each other and what you did right and wrong.
Make a new drawing, this time of the face in the picture. It
helps to draw it up side down (that is, draw an up-side-down face
from an up-side-down photo) so that your brain is forced to
register it as a bunch of shapes instead of symbols like before.
Look at the face as a bunch of shapes. There's maybe the shape
of the jaw line, the form of the hair, the forehead. Also pay
special attention to the space between the eyebrow and the eye.
Draw this shape instead of drawing the eye. That way, you
override any desire your brain may have to substitute a symbol
for the actual form of the eye. Remember to keep everything light
so you can use the eraser.
When you have your shapes outlined in the right place, start
filling in shades. There are numerous methods to shading but if
you have never done shading, just color stuff in with the pencil
whatever way seems "right" to you. Look at the picture to see
what parts are dark and what parts are light. Notice any places
where dark fades to light and shade accordingly. The way to fade
when shading is to press hard where you want dark and ease up on
the pencil as you work your way to the lighter areas. Be careful
not to shade too dark at first because it's much easier to add
more later than to try to erase what's already put down.
OK, you're done with your first portrait now. You probably
noticed that while you were drawing, you got "into" it and lost
track of time/surroundings for a bit. What you now have probably
doesn't look much like the person in the photo but if you turn it
over and compare it to the drawing you did first, you'll probably
think it's better.
The next thing to try is doing a drawing right side up. Do the
same thing. Don't draw the symbols, though, just the shapes
around them. Then, fill in the detail after the basic shapes are
in place. This one may begin to resemble the person on the photo.
Keep practicing with different pictures of people and different
techniques. It takes a while but, eventually, they start turning
Learn how to shade. Shading techniques are important in a
drawing and are usually relatively easy to learn. Look online
for instructions and also experiment.
Detail on the hair determines how much attention is paid to the
face. If you don't like how a face turned out, put lots of
detail in the hair. If you like the face a lot, make the hair
Don't blend/smear. This method may make the pictures look better
at first, but it's better to shade without blending, since it
gives more detail to the picture.
If you're having trouble focusing on shapes, and you find the
symbols showing up in the drawing, try drawing the outline of
your hand very slowly without looking at the paper. Concentrate
on the shape and every fold or angle. The picture doesn't turn
out looking like a hand but it helps your brain get used to
looking at shapes and angles and stuff.
Don't let your self be distracted when drawing. Reading,
talking, basically anything with words interrupts the drawing
process. Music is ok, but conversation will be a real distraction.
All the information you need to draw the portrait is in the
model. Don't worry about drawing it the way it's "supposed" to
look but rather, how it actually looks.