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Learn to draw: Rendering Realistic Portraits in pencil graphite charcoal and carbon: 1 Drawing an ear

Updated on January 27, 2013

Lend me an ear

I will show you how to add an ear to this partly finished portrait.
I will show you how to add an ear to this partly finished portrait.

Steps - click for full view

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Tutorial - Drawing an ear.

This is an example of one of the tutorials that are included in my book, "Rendering Realistic Portraits in Graphite". I am releasing the contents of this book in a drip-feed on my art blog. You can download the posts and compile the book for personal use.

See : spOOks art blog and spooks-art and twitter @spooks_art for details.

The construction lines that you see in the photo of the unfinished artwork are what I call 'strategic lines'. These are lines which are important in the composition and proportion. I usually draw one which follows tangental to the jawline, and one above, below and through the eyes. Almost none are vertical or horizontal. There will, at some stage be more about this in my blog.

However, right now, we need an ear. They looks like difficult shapes to draw, and they are in fact difficult unless you use the method of negative drawing. Then it becomes easy.

Here are the steps

We need to draw 'in the negative'. This means that we draw light instead of shadow. Since the paper is white - this is difficult. So lay down a very light scribble of quite soft graphite. Don't press hard or it will damage the paper. We need to be able to erase it very easily.

Then, take a kneadable eraser or an electric eraser, or even a normal school eraser that is cut to a point. Use it to draw the folds of the ear that catch the light. This completes the negative drawing.

Prepare some 8B graphite dust or carbon pencil dust by taking a scrap of paper and vigorously rubbing one spot. The carbon pencil works best for this. There will be some dust produced that can be picked up with a small modeling brush.

Use the graphite or carbon dust to 'paint' in the shadow areas.

Identify the deepest shadows. This is likely to be under the top fold because the light is likely to come from above . Obviously this could be different. Directly, and lightly use the carbon pencil to draw those shadows, and then blend it in with the brush.

Finally, all transitions need to graduate light to dark to light in a smooth transition. Do not draw lines. I normally use a very sharp 0.3mm HB and 6H and a technique called circularism to blend these transisions.

My book on drawing.

Prepare some carbon dust

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    • K Kiss profile image

      K Kiss 

      6 years ago from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

      This is amazing!! I like to draw and do draw now and then but I am not even near as good as this!! Pinned

    • Manna in the wild profile imageAUTHOR

      Manna in the wild 

      7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Austinstar - I'll look up ryankett.

    • Austinstar profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      ryankett makes videos to teach people how to draw. They are mostly on YouTube, but he does put some in his hubs. He draws skulls and dragons and stuff.

      I would love to watch a video of how to draw portraits. I do better trying to draw the negative space as you describe here.

    • Manna in the wild profile imageAUTHOR

      Manna in the wild 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Oh - thank you. Perhaps you would be interested in and the art blog where a book on drawing is being made available over time.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Wow! I loved reading this. I am a great art fan, so I voted here for more! Hope that's ok! Cheers!


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