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Updated on July 27, 2009

Portrait basics


There really nothing to this, anyone can draw a basic face.  Just those who keep practicing are the ones that become great.

Face drawing has always been my favorite type of drawing.

The human face has so many parts to it that rather complicated if you don’t know your basics.

You really don’t have to take art classes for this.  Shoot, I began when I was smaller coping comics and such for fun.

As I got older I started to draw life.  Art classes just help you focus your practicing and techniques especially your shading and texture.  It also introduces you to professionalism in art.

There are 5 Elements: line, texture, color, balance, and I always for get one.  (Sorry, Coach)

Ok, it looks like I’m giving you an art class, which I’m sorta.

The basic shape of the head is an egg.  Half this egg for the eyes, quarter for the nose, and an eighth for the mouth. 

Oh, here is a cool tip the mouth is a heart with wings.  Just think about it.

Eyes are spaces one eye apart. The nose is the same size at the eyes just in a triangle. The mouth is under the nose.  Since it is your face you can do whatever. 

Now that you have these basics just go from there.

Ears are “c” from eyes to nose.

Jaw lines are any shape.

What makes the best is the shading. 

Most photos use a butterfly light in the front giving the face balance.  Turning the photo black/white will help you if all the colors are starting to look the same.

Colors for faces:  dark brown, light brown, orange, a little blue for the shadows.

After this the lighter colors and detail colors like sand, tan, red, Tuscan red are use in no matter what race you are working on.

These colors are wonderful to give the portrait some spice.

Now painting has a whole different set of colors and different techniques.

Hair is fun, just think of the solid main color.  Add the darks (blues, violets) after your main color and just use lines going the same way.

Blending is up to you. 

I use paper towels, blenders, and erasers to make the shading easier.

And there you go a face.

It depends on if it takes you 15 min to hours to finish just keep going.

It took me one time 16 hr for a portrait which I just gave away. (Now I know better than give away my works without getting paying for the professionalism.)


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    • NewHorizons profile image

      Joseph Attard 

      8 years ago from Gozo, Malta, EU.

      Hi I like doing faces too. But in pencil drawing, using only an HB, 2B and 4B. I seem to lose patience with colours. Pencil drawing and sketching is by far easier, less tools, less hassle, less equipment, etc.


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