In-Depth Guide on How to Draw a Person’s Portrait

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Whether you are a beginner or a pro, we all need a little guidance when starting something new. This also includes drawing portraits.

Regardless of your drawing experience, our in-depth guide will be handy for those looking to learn how to do a realistic portrait rather than a cartoon character.

Of course, there are many different techniques artists and teachers use nowadays, but we will cover one of the simplest and most used. 

Today, we will explore a drawing method that involves pencils and erasers to get that perfect lifelike portrait you have always dreamed of creating. Whether it is your family member, partner, or even a random stranger on the street, we got you covered. 

By the end, you will be able to draw a portrait as quickly as following a how to draw hair step-by-step guide. And trust us, hair is one of the easiest parts of a portrait to master. 

Materials You Will Need

When it comes to materials, an enormous variety of different brands are at your disposal. It is entirely up to you whether to use Faber Castell or an alternative, less expensive brand. 

We recommend checking out Target, which offers various labels to choose from. Some will be more expensive, but a higher price doesn’t always indicate better quality. 

To start, you will need the following:

  • Sketchbook — This can be whichever sketchbook you like, as long as it can withstand the pencils and the eraser without being torn. If you want to add color to your drawing in the form of watercolors or paints, we recommend thicker paper. 
  • Pencils — An HB pencil will be perfect for drawing, while pencils ranging from B2 to B6 will be perfect for shading
  • Eraser — You can use many different erasers. The best, however, is the kneaded eraser which you can also use for shading. It is multipurpose and can last a long time. As its name suggests, this eraser can be kneaded. This means you can shape it with your hands and remove the dirty parts, leaving a squeaky clean surface to erase with.

How to Draw a Person’s Portrait

Before we dive into the necessary steps, you will need a model. You can practice from a picture; however, live models are better for training as you can catch their facial expressions first-hand. 

Also, natural light may be the best option since it is the most accurate way of determining where shading should be placed. 

Once you have determined whom you will draw “like one of your French girls,” you can choose the angle. Now, this is crucial. We always recommend starting from a straight angle, with the model looking directly at you and as you gain experience, move to different angles. 

An important thing to remember is that older people and young children are the most difficult to draw. It is best to choose someone who is not too young or too old. However, if you wish to challenge yourself more, go ahead. 

So without further ado, let’s dive in! 

Step 1. Outlining the Head 

First, what you need to do is outline the shape of the head. For this, you can use the HB pencil to sketch everything. Press only lightly, as you might need to erase some lines. 

Start with a semicircle to form the upper part of the head, including the hairline, and slowly sketch the jaw. Since there are many different head and jaw shapes, follow the lines on the model in front of you. It may be easier to start with a male model with accentuated facial features. 

Step 2. Sketch Out the Face

Once the head shape is set up, it is time to sketch the face. 

Finding your style may be challenging initially, as you can apply many different drawing techniques. However, there are many beginner-friendly tutorials on drawing a face, and we recommend videos that you can pause. 

Step 3. Add Tones and Shadows

When we talk about tones, we don’t mean just the ones on the face itself. We are also talking about the hues that will make up the background of the drawing. 

You can start by adding light tones around the head, ensuring they follow the natural light and where it lands around your model’s face. 

As for the shadows, again, following the light, start slowly and gently shading the face you drew. We recommend you use B pencils as they are softer and perfect for drawing shadows. The lower the number, the softer the pencil will be, so make sure you choose the correct one. 

Once you have set your base, we can concentrate on the details.

Step 4. Concentrate on the Facial Features 

For facial features, shadows and shading are potent tools. The lines represent the focal points of the face and placements. However, shading can change the shape of one’s nose, lips, and eyes. 

You can emphasize the depth of the eyes, whether they are darker or lighter, or whether there are dark circles under the eyes.

You can accentuate one’s nose width and length since numerous nose shapes exist. You can also highlight their nostril shape and the nooks and crannies around the nostrils. 

As for the lips, if you want to make them more 3D, plump, or dry, you can use shading to emphasize everything. Lips are often drawn from shading, as only the tiniest lines are sketched out, and harsh lines are seldom used. 

You hold the power to make an older person look younger or vice versa. Use this power responsibly, and remember to keep practicing and developing your style. Explore the world of drawing and see which techniques suit you the best.

Ava-Mae is a content writer and business consultant currently living in Melbourne, Australia. She has a degree in finance and banking and is currently doing financial consulting and content writing for various tech companies.

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