Realistic portrait drawing tips

Man with white beard

Man with white beard

Medium: H Graphite pencil.

Creation time: One hour.

This portrait was really hard to draw because the model's large white beard was concealing his jaw line. When you can't see the shape and extent of someone's face then it's hard to map out all the anatomical features accurately.

But I guess its good practice to draw poses like this because it helps you to visualise the important anatomical landmarks underneath hair and clothes. We don't always have the luxury of drawing naked, hairless people!

I drew this picture with a grade H graphite pencil and it was so light on the page that it was very hard to see. After I scanned in the sketch I increased the contrast in Photoshop so you could see more detail in the linework, as a result the tooth on the paper is more apparant too.

Basic portrait

Basic portrait

Creation time: 10 minutes.

This wasn't a long post so I didn't get far with the drawing, but it's nice to see the structure taking shape.

Felicity with short hair

Felicity with short hair

Medium: Black and white charcoal on russet paper.

Creation time: 20 mintues.

My girlfriend just had her hair cut short so I thought I'd draw her portrait to record the occasion. I love short hair and I think the style suits her.

It's been a while since I drew a portrait - I was a bit worried that I would struggle with it - but it came together quite quickly. Felicity didn't even complain that much!

Felicity Circle: Art nouveau portrait

Felicity Circle: Art nouveau portrait

Medium: Graphite pencil.

Creation time: A few hours.

I've been working on this drawing in my spare time and its taken a while to get it this far. I enjoy working in art nouveau style but each line of hair can take a while to get right, it's worth all the effort though.

I originally intended to ink this in afterwards but I actually quite like the messy pencil look. If you look at the larger version you can see a few smudges, marks and construction lines etc. that's all part of it.

Girl with short hair

Girl with short hair

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 1 hour.

Just a simple portrait. I made an extra effort to do her hair carefully and I think it shows. Normally I have a lot of trouble with it but when I take my time it comes out more naturally.

I also tried not to draw too many lines to make up her facial features. This time I used tonal shapes and I think it gives a softer look.

Girl with curly hair

Girl with curly hair

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 1 hour.

This is a portrait of a girl with really curly hair, it was a bit of a challenge. I normally have trouble drawing hair because it can be so complicated. This time I used hatching all in one direction to build up the tone then I've picked out a few characteristic strands of hair and drawn them in to discribe key curls. This method gives a nice effect.

Nice female portrait

Nice female portrait

Medium: Black and white charcoal.

Creation time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

This is a nice portrait study. This time I sat very close to the model so I was able to see a lot more detail then normal. It really makes a difference when you can see what you are trying to draw.

If you look closely you can see horizontal lines evenly spaced across the page, this was a pattern in the paper itself. I prefer not to use paper with lines such as this because it can ruin a picture, however I had no choice this time because I left my good paper at home and had to borrow some.

Portrait with curls

Portrait with curls

Medium: Charcoal pencil.

Creation time: 40 minutes.

This is a nice simple portrait. This would have looked much better on toned paper, maybe I'll do that next time. It's been a while since I've made an update so I hope this keeps all my visitors happy for the mean-time while I work hard on my new website. =)

UPDATE: If you are reading this then you are ON my new website! YAY!

Male Portrait

Male Portrait

Medium: Charcoal.

Creation time: 1 hour.

Male portrait study.

I've started using white in a much more subtle way and I think it really helps. For a little while I was using strong white and using the paper colour as the shadow areas, but now I've found that it's much better to put in the shadows with blocks of tone and save the white for just the highlights.

It gives a much more refined look.

Asian girl portrait

Asian girl portrait

Medium: Charcoal.

Creation time: 1 hour.

Female portrait

Female portrait

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 1 hour.

A simple portrait of a girl done while studying facial features. This would have looked much more interesting if it was drawn on toned paper with black and white charcoal.

I have done a lot of drawings on white paper lately and I think I need a bit of colour to make my drawing category a bit more interesting! I'll try and do a coloured drawing next week.

Bernadette

Bernadette

Medium: Black and white charcoal on grey paper.

Creation time: Approx 1 hour.

This is my friend Bernadette. She was wearing a groovy black jumper that was buttoned on the side. I drew one of the buttons on the edge of the picture but it looks a little distracting, I should have left it out. Sometimes less is more!

Angela reading charcoal portrait

Angela reading charcoal portrait

Medium: Black and white charcoal pencil on neutral grey paper.

Creation time: 2 hours 15 minutes.

This is a friend of mine reading a book.

Man's profile

Man's profile

Medium: Charcoal and white pencil on beige paper.

Creation time: 10 minutes.

This paper had quite a rough tooth to it and it gave my drawing a very textured look. I like using this type of paper on occasions but it always makes fine detail difficult to capture.