Step-by-Step Procedure to Draw a Portrait
1. Reference Photograph for Portrait
Not all photos that you find luring in social media are good for Portrait sketch. Always try to obtain photos which are
-sharp and have less blurred areas at least on the subject
-shot in good lighting
-have good highlights and shadows.
2. Sketch the Outline
An outline can be drawn by various methods. That include:
a. Freehand- This is the most difficult yet fast technique to draw a portrait. You just see the reference photo and start to draw. I don’t recommend this method to beginners as this is difficult and requires a lot of practice.
b. Tracing – The easiest to draw and little faster than that of the freehand and graph method. This method is useful if the reference photo needs to be resized or if there is a need for the measurements to be exact. Take a printout of the reference photo and shade all the backside of the photo with black graphite or charcoal. Once that is done take the image and place it on the sketchpad and start drawing lines on the actual photo. This will transfer the previously shaded charcoal or graphite to the sketchpad.
c. Graph- The most time consuming and tedious task is to draw lines here. We take the image and using some software like Photoshop, we make guiding lines on the image and the sketchpad which are exactly alike or are proportional. Then the proportions can help us to carve our subject more accurately.
Before we move further, we need to properly analyze the areas in the picture. We need to see the highlights and shadows. In the image, the white areas that have a direct light source are usually highlights and those areas that are dark are usually shadows. We don’t need to use dark grade pencils in the highlights whereas in the shadows we do the opposite.
Shading is the most important part of a portrait sketch. In order to shade a picture, we need pencils of various grades. We have pencils like HB, 2B, 5B,6B…. Greater the number the more it will be dark and soft, but it will more be hard to erase.
Avoid using a lot of pressure on pencils. Use higher grades to get the desired darkness if necessary. I prefer to work in layers. First a layer of HB and smooth it out by using a brush or a tissue paper. After then erase those areas where highlights are maximum. Repeat the process for darker areas with increasing grade of pencils as necessary by observing the photograph. I highly insist on doing the eyes, nose, and lips in the first place as those are the things that are going to make your portrait look expressive.
Tips for shading
-for smooth shading do not apply pressure on pencils and work in layers
-do not increase/decrease the values TRY TO MAKE IT SIMILAR TO PHOTOGRAPH
-give more emphasis on the eyes nose and lips as these are the only element that resembles the expression of the face.
5. Finishing and Hairs in the Portrait.
The hairs must be drawn according to the photograph. The direction to which the hair goes is really what gives the character his looks and essence. Just look at the photograph and remember the direction of the hairs and draw them accordingly in the same direction. Hairs don’t need to be perfect they just need to resemble the hairs. For finishing, there are mainly two things:
Dark areas finishing- to finish the darkest areas in the sketch all you need to do is get yourself a high-grade pencil and make them look sharp.
Light areas finishing- try to give definite highlights using white charcoal or an eraser.
DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT. IF YOUR PORTRAIT IS ABLE TO EXPRESS ITSELF GUESS YOU ARE DONE WITH IT.
Don’t miss the full tutorial video.
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