Circulism is my second favorite shading technique. It’s great for creating realistic skin textures. The idea is to draw many circles that overlap each other, building tone with each added layer.
Then, I arbitrarily marked, on the top level, the highest point of the head, and then used the angle between this point and the bottom of the chin, to locate the bottom of the chin on the page.
I start by blackening one of the eyebrows. This is easy, and hopefully will help me build momentum.
However, the eye was too small to help effectively establish the key. So, I keyed the drawing more aggressively, starting with the shadow on the nose and the highlights on the forehead and cheek.
The area immediately below the sphere is called an occlusion shadow and is usually the darkest area as it is least affected by reflected light.
Today, for the third day in a row, I spent 2.5 hours on my Derren Brown drawing. However, unlike the other days, today, I feel like I made a lot of progress.
However, Derren didn’t inspire me with his drawings, but rather, his paintings, like these…
I left all my drawing supplies behind, so I’m definitely not drawing any more this month.
The more textured the paper, the more white dots you will get across your drawing. This can make your drawing look very grainy.
If you want to convey a round edge, avoid abrupt shading transitions. The more gradual your shading is, the more smooth your edge becomes.
Then, I addressed the right half of the face — further developing the shadow.
Yesterday, I started following along with the Vitruvian Studio portrait course, and began drawing a portrait of Derren Brown.
When working with markers, do a rough sketch of your idea in pencil first before making permanent marker pen marks. The great thing about sketching a marker drawing in pencil first is that after the marker ink has dried, you can take an eraser to the entire illustration and remove the initial pencil sketch, leaving the marker intact.
Hard pencils produce clean, sharp and light lines which are great for sketching, architectural drawings, product sketches, etc. The harder the pencil, the more difficult it is to blend or smudge.
Before, I get to that, though, let me first share today’s progress.
Last month, I memorized a shuffled deck of cards in under two minutes, which required obsessive, consistent practice. If I were to stop practicing, over time I would lose this skill.
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We can do a lot with one pencil but we can broaden our range of values if we use a variety of pencils. I prefer to use two or three different pencils, starting with a 2H. Pencils with the letter “H” have harder lead, which won’t mark my paper as much so their lines will have a lighter tone. “B” pencils make blacker marks than H, so I use these more towards finish.
Perhaps, I’m just stalling out of fear: Once the mouth and cheek are developed, I’ll have a much better idea if the portrait is any good.
This sounds obvious, but again, your brain and visual system can play tricks on you. Your brain is attempting to see a face (via your psychologically skewed, emotions-based mental model of a face), and not just tonal blobs.
Purposefully, I chose to base my self-portrait on a photo with a tighter tonal range, since I wanted to challenge and push my abilities (Drawing a portrait with heavy contrast requires less subtly and is, in my opinion, easier).
Nevertheless, I must continue. So, here I go… Time to temporarily deface my work.
Nine days ago, I began my 30-day quest to learn how to draw photorealistic portraits. Since then, I’ve watched the entire 10 hours of the Vitruvian Studio drawing course, as well as spent 14.5 hours working on my first portrait.
You can decide if this is cheating or not, but either way, this month is going to be different. This month, I am actually going to invest in my fine art skills. This month, I’m going to take a pencil and paper, and nothing else, and make it happen.
Derren is a British illusionist, who I’ve been following for a while now, and who, I recently learned, casually paints portraits on the side.
Use an overhand grip on your pencil paired with movement from your elbow and shoulder to create longer and straighter lines. This will give you a much wider range of motion compared to using just your wrist or finger joints. To shade darker, press your index finger down on the pencil’s tip.
There are a few factors involved in achieving a smooth pencil shade.
Although I’m loving the composition of my self-portrait, I’ve sadly draw everything 10–20% too small.
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In my life, I’ve created a fair bit of (what I’ll call) art. However, I’ve done so, not by relying on well-developed fine art skills, but instead, by cheating my way through the artistic process.
Today, I flew from San Francisco to Florida to meet up with my family for a few days. I’ll be here until January 4th.
Measuring success for this challenge is certainly more subjective than last month (where I successfully memorized a deck of cards in less than 2 minutes).
At first, the blackness of the hair is a bit jarring, but it accurately represents the “exposure” I’m going for (where the hair is emitting no light, and thus, shows up as pure black).
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Once you’re equipped with these two techniques, you’ll be ready to follow the “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet” and draw your first portrait.
Here are two portraits that I made for my cousins Adam and Marissa.
Click here for my extensive tutorial on how to shade a face!
For the past couple days, I’ve been itching to start my self-portrait. So, today, I did just that.
When drawing with pencils, we tend to make lines too dark too early. We should sketch with light lines because these only suggest edges and borders; dark lines are for the later stages because they are definitive and not open to interpretation. Lines can darken prematurely if it takes a few tries to get the exact line you want. If that happens, slow down and be more careful; speed up again once you get the hang of it.
3b.) Make up your own shapes and add contour lines to them. Once you’re done, decide where the light is coming from and shade them in.
I may need to invest in some powder graphite (but I’ll return to this later).
I’m going to use a sphere with one main light source as an example because the light is more predictable.
Core Shadow: The core shadow or form shadow is a dark strip that appears after the terminator. The appearance of the core shadow can be affected by reflections or multiple light sources. In ‘image 1’ the core shadow is less prominent on the left side due to reflections from the white table.
Reflected Light: Objects are not only lit by light sources, but also by reflected light. That’s why shadows are rarely ever black. Light bounces off different surfaces such as walls or even dust particles in the air, creating reflections.
These reflections can vary in color and value. Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow
Be careful when shading or outlining with sharp, hard pencils because they can leave deep indents in your paper which are very difficult to cover up.
4B: Mid-tones, light shadows, detailing, hair, first layer of shading for clothes, background.
In 20 years, even if I don’t practice from now until then, as long as I can remember triangulation and outside-in shading, I will be able to fully replicate my results from this month.
Below are a few portrait pencil shading techniques for beginners and experienced artists alike.
5b.) Find 3 faces in a magazine and use a pen to outline major planes.
This new challenge starts today, December 1, 2016, and, by December 31, I hope to be a master of portrait drawing.
During high school, whenever I was tasked with making someone a gift, I usually opted to construct a custom Warhol-inspired portrait out of Legos.
Today, I spent 2.5 hours starting the course and beginning my first portrait.
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to learn from this shading tutorial.
Today, I practiced triangulating the complete head shape and gauging the level of features.
I picked up some new blending stumps today, and went to work smoothing the value changes over my face and neck. Here’s the result…
Before I show today’s progress, I want to share two techniques I learned that make it significantly easier to accurately add tonal values to portraits.
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Well, that’s not exactly right. While I didn’t cultivate any new drawing-enabled motor skills or artistic skills, I did learned to structure my already-existing skills inside of a better drawing process.
Because I spent the past two days meticulously locating and blocking in the features, it was very easy to add the incremental detail. (Trying to draw big shapes is much harder than trying to draw little shapes. Little shapes are a lot easier to visually understand and replicate)
For some (perhaps, legal) reason, most apartments in San Francisco don’t have overhead lights in their main living areas. Usually, apartments only have overhead lights in the bathroom and (sometimes) the kitchen, which is the case for my apartment.
At this point, you may notice some inconsistencies. Make corrections by adding a few more layers where needed.
Especially before I smoothed out my face, it looked as if I had just been cleaning chimneys.
Thus, this time around, with my self-portrait, I’m aiming to more closely match tones, while also paying attention to the smaller areas of light fall-off. With this attention, my hope is to create a more realistic rendering of my face.
I continue with my black pencil, darkening the other eyebrow and the hair.
Hopefully these next tips will help you get over the learning curve quickly and with ease.
If you want to practice shading on simple objects, grab a bright lamp, a set of geometric shapes and set up a scene!
Behold the humble pencil: so simple and basic yet so full of possibilities. Like handwriting, everybody draws differently from everybody else. Our various styles will inform how we use our pencils so experiment with different types of pencil marks to get the full range of use out of your pencil. This will be valuable especially when using different types of marks to describe textures and elements as completely different things.
The human eye is really bad at assessing tonal values in isolation — which is why your brain thinks squares A and B below are very different colors, when, in fact, they are the same.
The relative tones of the face to the hair are much more accurate now, which helps with realism.The shape of the hair on the left side of the portrait wasn’t quite right, so this gave me the chance to fix it.Here’s the before…And the after
1.g) Select a few different pencil grades and shade a series of rectangles. Use only your pencil to blend each of the values together.
Next, I included the eye sockets and some more detail around the nose.
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Tomorrow, I’ll write up a more thorough critique. But until then, I’m declaring this month’s challenge a success.
In the image below, I used all of the realistic shading techniques above to convey wrinkly skin. For the first few layers, I used circulism, then I used the other three shading techniques to achieve various textures found in wrinkly skin.
Part 1: Understanding Pencil Grades ⦁ Intro to Graphite Pencils ⦁ Shading with One Pencil ⦁ Shading with a Variety of Pencils ⦁ Black and White Part 2: Pencil Shading Techniques ⦁ Hatching ⦁ Cross Hatching ⦁ Circulism ⦁ Contour Shading Part 3: Pencil Shading Tips & Tricks ⦁ How to Shade Smoothly ⦁ Increase your Range of Motion ⦁ Use the Right Amount of Pressure ⦁ Value Consistency Part 4: Understanding Light ⦁ The Light and Dark Side ⦁ Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow Part 5: Intro to Planes Part 6: Representing Form ⦁ Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions ⦁ Is Your Drawing Too Flat? ⦁ Bumps and Ridges Part 7: Shading Practice ⦁ Shading Exercises and Printable Worksheets
Then, over the next 3.5 weeks, I completed a 10-hour drawing course, drew a few other people, and then spent 8 hours on a new self-portrait.
Checking in Photoshop, everything seems pretty accurate. Although, the low point of the chin may be slightly too far left.
I’m definitely eager to start a new challenge, since I like the idea of always being in pursuit of something (which maybe suggests that I need to learn how to relax). Nevertheless, instead, these past two months, I’ve finished both challenges on Day 24 (of the month), and thus, needed to wait, without a challenge, for a week, until the next one began/begins.
24 days ago, to kick off December’s challenge, I tried to draw a self-portrait.
A typical full set of pencils will range from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest). Having a full set is not necessary for portrait drawing. The range you need depends on the type of drawings you do.
So far, so good. Tomorrow, I’ll start blocking in the features.
This month, as I learn to draw faces, I’m experiencing a new phenomenon… For the past few days, I’ve found myself scrutinizing and deconstructing other people’s faces on the train, at work, on the street, at Whole Foods, etc. Wherever there is a face, I can’t help but try to analyze it, and imagine how I’d draw it.
For now, before I get to the painting, I’ll start off by mastering the drawing part of program.
1.d) Shade a solid tone from one end of your sketchbook to the other. Lift your pencil every now and then and rotate it slightly before you continue shading. Don’t forget to scribble on a scrap piece of paper to test your pencil’s sharpness before you continue! Your goal is to make it look as though you never lifted the pencil at all.
For the month of December, my goal is to draw a realistic self-portrait with only pencil and paper. Along the way, in order to learn the fundamentals of drawing and portraiture, I will also draw many other faces, which will hopefully keep this month’s posts more varied and interesting.
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The first thing I did today was add construction lines to my drawing. These construction lines are designed to act as landmarks and help me eventually place the facial features.
Finally, I detail the ear, which is one of my favorite parts of the whole process. (Ears are just weird looking and fun to draw)
Today, after another 2.5 hours of work, I finally completed my Derren Brown portrait.
Yesterday, I declared that today I would start working on the mouth and cheek areas of my self-portrait. And yet, somehow, the day is over, and the mouth and cheek areas are still naked.
So, thank you people of San Francisco for not getting totally creeped out. I promise I’ll stop soon.
Sketch with non-permanent pencil before using permanent marker
Again, if you’re using a highly textured paper, you might get some black dots across your drawing. If you’re shading skin, these dots can look like stubble (it’s even worse when paired with white dots). If you’re going to use a blending tool on your drawing, remove the dots first!
With my self-portrait, I strayed from both of these advantages. For one, on purpose. For the other, less so.
Click here for a full step by step tutorial on how to shade a face
Again, I think this is okay compositionally, but it’s still a bit of a problem — particularly, for two reasons.
Thus, once I finished drawing, I came back to my dark apartment to snap a photo.
You might prefer to draw your black and white artworks in pencil or with marker pens, which we’ll explore too (or if you’d rather try charcoal, check out these 10 expert tips for charcoal drawing).
2.a) Draw a series of wide to narrow boxes. Shade each one using vertical strokes. Follow this pattern using one or multiple pencils: Shadow, Mid-tone, Highlight, Mid-tone, Shadow.
The head was now looking pretty good, but the neck and shoulders needed a few adjustments. I retriangulated, and adjusted the collar upwards.
Then, I marked eye level, to start gauging the features’ vertical placement.
I added in the center line of the lips and the shadow on the nose.
I start by blocking in shadow areas near the mouth, on the forehead, and on the neck.
1.a) Without lifting your pencil or taking any breaks, draw tight lines back and forth from one end of your sketch book to the other. Gradually increase your pressure as you go. Your goal is to get a smooth gradient.
These steps are based on the excellent portrait drawing course by Vitruvian Studio, which I highly recommend you purchase if you are serious about learning how to draw.
Tip: When drawing wrinkly or rough skin, avoid blending your graphite.
Tim Jenison, on the other hand, does have something worth sharing. Without any artistic training, he painted a nearly-exact replica of a Vermeer painting solely using optical techniques.
With the topmost and bottommost points identified, I then needed to identify the leftmost and rightmost points.
With these techniques newly-learned, I began to add tonal values to my Derren Brown portrait.
Click the following link and hit the download button beside the printer icon to download the PDF: RapidFireArt Tutorials – How to Shade Pencil Shading Techniques
Now (and I hope this eventually wears off), when I see a new face, my first instinct is to estimate the ratio between the height and width of the head. Other times, I just look to see what shapes the eye sockets are. Or how prominent the brow ridge is. Or if the nose and brows equally break the face in thirds.
Thus, to set a baseline for this month’s challenge, I’ve drawn a before self-portrait with my current drawing skills. Although it’s not the absolute worst thing ever drawn, it sadly doesn’t look very much like me.
I started by arbitrarily drawing two lines on the page to indicate the level of the top of the head and the level of the bottom of the head.
In other words, after practicing for about an hour per day for 26 days, I majorly improved my portrait drawing skills.
I’ve had strong artistic tendencies since I was a kid, but I’ve never invested much in my fine art skills. Instead, I’ve channeled my artistic impulses mainly through music, film, and computer-aided design.
Before I drew my self-portrait, I drew a portrait of Derren Brown.
Create a pointy end on your kneaded eraser to dab each of the dots away. Dab lightly! It’s tedious but well worth it.
In the coming months, I plan to start sketching a portrait on canvas, and then experimenting with paint.
After 7.5 hours of work (2.5 hours over the past three days), I’m finally hopefully that this portrait will resemble Derren Brown.
I did, however, bring a Rubik’s Cube with me in preparation for January’s challenge (which starts in two days).
Interestingly, this completeness is a bit problematic: Because the sketch feels whole (and, from my perspective, represents an interesting, standalone piece of art), I struggle to continue working on it.
If you prefer to use only one pencil, I suggest using a 2B, 3B or 4B. They’re flexible enough to reach both ends of the value scale without much effort. If your drawings are usually light, go for a 2B. My favorite is 4B.
To prevent this, periodically roll the sides of your pen tip on a scrap sheet of paper to remove ink buildup.
Does the overall shading of your portrait lack balance? Make sure your lighting is consistent across the entire portrait by keeping track of how dark you shade each area of the portrait. You can do this by referencing back to one main value. For me, the main value is the darkest or lightest value already established in the portrait.
When keying the drawing (and developing tonal values in general) it’s important that the shapes of the tonal areas are captured accurately.
It’s common for beginners to leave large areas of their portraits (such as cheeks) white. Areas that remain white or are shaded with a solid tone indicate that they are facing the same direction. Have a look at the center forehead plane in the three images below.
White: You may have seen artists use correctional fluid (whiteout), paint or white pencil crayon to bring out strong highlights in their drawing. This gives the drawing a very impactful look and can enhance the level realism. Here’s an example.
I continued with the upper part of the beard, and finished up for the day.
Today, I spent a couple hours working on the eyes and nose area of my self-portrait.
When using this technique to draw skin with fine wrinkles, use a sharp tip. For smooth skin, angle your pencil more so you get slightly blunt circles which are much easier to blend, giving the skin a softer appearance.
Shadow Lining is a great way to plan out your shading without having your outlines show through in your final drawing.
Today, I continued working on my self-portrait. Although it’s coming together nicely, I made a mistake upfront that’s definitely costing me now.
I continued shading the darkest areas along the right side of the face.
With the neck and shoulders in place, it again didn’t look right. So, I checked more angles and made adjustments as necessary (mostly to broaden the jaw)
After my light-seeking adventure, here’s what I was able to accomplish.
Pencils are versatile for all the different marks they can make
This is mostly because I’m very bullish on this entire project.
This portrait has two big advantages over my self-portrait: 1. The tonal range over the face is much greater, and 2. The midtone of the face matches the tone of the paper.
So far, the portrait doesn’t look like much, but I still learned a bunch today. I particularly like the triangulation technique, which makes drawing much more procedural and mathematical (a.k.a. easier for me).
You can tell how hard or soft a pencil is by looking at the combination of letters and numbers printed on the end of each pencil.
This post is part of Max’s year-long accelerated learning project, Month to Master.Max Deutsch is an obsessive learner, product builder, guinea pig for Month to Master, and founder at Openmind.If you want to follow along with Max’s year-long accelerated learning project, make sure to follow this Medium account.
It’s still hard to tell whether I’ll be successful, but we’ll find out soon…
While the result is artistically interesting, much of the work was done by a projector. I created a paint-by-number blueprint (again in Photoshop), projected it onto the canvas, and traced it in pencil.
In fact, I suspect that today was least consequential to the outcome of the portrait. If I mess up the shape of the head and the location of the features, I have very little chance of capturing a likeness. If the features are not quite accurately detailed, but in the right place, I still might have something…
This was a bit of a mistake, but a good learning opportunity. As a result of this decision, unlike with my Derren portrait, I had to pencil-shade the mid-tones on my face, leading to a slightly dirtier portrait. (In the case with Derren, where there were midtones, I left the blank paper untouched and clean).
Tip: If you re-positioned your hand on the pencil for any reason while shading, scribble on a scrap piece of paper until you regain the same stroke thickness before you continue with your drawing in case you catch a sharp edge.
Home Learn How to Draw How to shade & pencil shading techniques
This is my favorite and most used technique, especially for speed drawings! It’s a huge time saver.
My 2016 highlights2016 was my first full year living in San Francisco and also my first full year as a post-college “working adult”.medium.com
Tomorrow, I’ll go swing by the art store and pick up a few fresh ones.
While the Derren Brown portrait (with its ultra-contrasty tonal range) may be a more dynamic portrait, my self portrait seems closer to photorealism, which is the main improvement I was aiming for.
This is where I stopped for the day, after another 2.5 hours of working.
However, before I make it happen, I thought it would be fun to share some of my previous works.
The longer a cast shadow gets, the lighter and softer it becomes due to reflected light from the environment around it.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue following the course, and start drawing in the facial features.
And while my most recent self-portrait is a major improvement, and does look very much like me, I still do have some quick critical thoughts on it, which I’ve broken down into two parts: 1. Likeness and 2. Artistry.
Today, I only had ten minutes to draw, so I spent all ten darkening the hair and eyebrows on my self-portrait, until they were as black as I could get them.
It almost feels unnatural to add tonal values to the sketch, as if I’m defacing something I worked hard to create.
If your tool belt currently consists of a single HB pencil, your portraits are probably lacking depth.
Rather than writing another M2M post today, I’ll encourage you to check out that post if you’re interested.
This establishes the entire tonal range of the drawing, which is called the key of the drawing.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the outcome — especially since I sketched this fairly quickly. I guess that means I’m improving…
When drawing with markers, try to get a variety of black tones to work with in order to create a maximum range of values. Markers draw really quick and clean but can be a little difficult to work with if you’re not used to the starkness and graphic nature of marker work.
While these pieces may look like they required some amount of artistic genius to pull off (do they?), that’s really not the case. Instead, these pieces just required some clever computational analysis, planning in Photoshop, and executional patience (while glueing and placing each Lego piece).
In most of my posts, I tend to be pretty positive (i.e. “Whoa, today went better than expected…”, “I’m really pleased with today’s progress…”, “I can’t believe how good this is…”, etc.).
Take a look at the self-portrait side-by-side with the Derren Brown portrait. My head is noticeably smaller.
I continued in this way, until I outlined the entire shape of the head.
5c.) Draw planar faces and shade them by coming up with as many lighting arrangements as you can think of.
Should I wait for the first of each month to start a new challenge, and enjoy my few days of relaxing (if available), or should I just use my extra time towards future challenges and start immediately?
With these tonal contours in place, I darkened the shadow areas slightly, giving the portrait some roundness and three-dimensionality.
Clearly, there are major differences in realism between my starting drawing and this example portrait. So, if I can match the level of this example (which will be, of course, a subjective, but hopefully honest judgement), I will consider this challenge a success.
Watching Derren paint, it seems like there are clear parallels between shading a drawing and painting a portrait: He sets a mid-tone color, adds the lights and darks, works his way towards the middle, and then adds detail.
With each of the sketches, unlike with my Derren Brown portrait, I felt that I was able to see the angle on the subject and accurately replicate it on the page with limited effort.
Planes angled towards the light directly are the lightest. As the planes start angling away from the light, they receive less and less light, hence appearing darker.
To check, I then sighted the angle between the two new points, ensuring this angle matches what I see on Derren’s head.
Using multiple pencil grades makes the job easy because there is less effort required to achieve a lighter or darker shade. For example, it would have been difficult to shade the background using an HB and even more difficult to shade highlights using a 6B.
Part of me lacks the motivation to continue drawing, as I feel like I’ve already accomplished my goal. The other (more overpowering) part of me realizes that I have another 21 days to improve even further, so that’s what I plan to do.
Before you blend, make sure that your strokes are tight, the shading is even and there aren’t too many white and black dots. Blending smooths out your shading, but it’s not a miracle solution for lazy people. If your shading is sloppy to begin with, blending isn’t going to help.
I also drew in the level of the notch of the neck. The first time, I drew it too low, so I moved it up. I gauged this distances as a proposition of the head length.
Picking up where I left off, I continued to block in shapes for the features.
When using this technique, always angle your pencil more towards the paper so your strokes are nice and thick. This allows you to minimize gaps, making it easier to blend.
For the face on the right, I would use an HB for outlines and highlights, 4B for my first layer of shading, 5B for the second layer and light shadows, 6B for darker shadows and eye detailing, and finally a 9B for the darkest shadows.
With the construction lines as references, I was then ready to start blocking in the facial features.
Anyway, continuing with this theme, today, I want to share an interesting struggle.
Although today’s darkening session improved things, the portrait still seems a bit odd and unbalanced because of the nakedness of the mouth and cheek. I’ll start tackling those areas tomorrow.
1.e) Pick out a few different pencil grades such as HB, 2B, 4B and 6B. Shade in order from hardest to softest pencil and go from left to right. Your goal is to blend the values together seamlessly so you get something that looks like image 1.a).
And while this seems like a major leap from my drawing studies, I now have the artistic confidence to attempt a painting like this, without any (or very little) additional instruction.
After seeing these, I decided I too would like to be the kind of person that casually paints impressively good portraits on the side.
HB: Preliminary outlines, some highlights, first layer of shading, eye-whites.
I’ve been holding off on the blending because my blending stump is unusably dirty.
This portrait is the example drawn in the Vitruvian Studio Portrait Drawing Course, which is the course I’ll be following this month.
1. LikenessOverall, the likeness is strong. The portrait unequivocally looks like me. Although, it isn’t perfect.My expression/emotion in the portrait is plausibly mine, particularly in the eyes.The shape of hair near the ear and back of the head is very accurate.
However, the hair line doesn’t seem completely right, and it’s probably the second biggest reason why the portrait doesn’t look perfectly like me. The hair line should probably come down on the forehead and should be less rounded.
When I snapped a photo of myself (on which I based this portrait), I had just gotten a shorter-than-normal haircut, which is probably why I’m not used to the haircut I drew.On paper, I feel I captured the nose perfectly, but, as a result of the shadow, it may seem slightly too small/short.
To address this, I could have accentuated the tonal difference between the cheek and the shadowed part of the nose, but I wanted to remain as tonally accurate as possible and chose not to.I’m very happy with how the neck turned out.
Its weight and main features (the Adam’s apple and the notch at my collar line) seem accurate.There is something odd about the ear. It seems a bit out of place.The eyebrows may be the slightest bit thin, but they are very close to reality.
The biggest potential miss is my cheek. While I do have prominent cheeks when I smile (which I’m not doing here), I also have a fairly slender face and a reasonably defined jaw. Depending on how I look at the cheek, it sometimes appears too round and too full.
Other times, when I look at the portrait, my eye renders this area properly. If anything, I probably could have made the bottom of the face (in the rolling shadow) a bit more angular.
For my first piece, rather than drawing the model from the course, I’ve chosen to draw Derren Brown, who originally inspired me to pursuit portrait drawing.
Before you shade anything, analyze your subject until you understand it’s contours instead of trying to figure it out as you draw. It really helps to observe your subject from multiple angles. Once you familiarize yourself with your subject, decide on how you will shade before you actually shade.
Here I try to locate the peak of his head, the lowest point of his chin, the rightmost point of his ear, the leftmost point of his ear, and the notch of his neck.
Just like when drawing with ballpoint pen, a blank sheet of scrap paper can come in handy when drawing with pencils too. Pencil drawings—particularly those done with B pencils—can smudge very easily so I like to put a blank sheet of paper under the heel of my hand as I draw so as to protect my work in progress.
Tip: You can find the direction of the light source in a scene if you trace the edges of the cast shadow against the form it is cast from.
To me, drawing is a bit like doing your laundry. Before you do it for the first time, you feel it’s much more complicated than it actually is, and thus, you feel incapable of trying. Then, you’re shown that doing your laundry is only a matter of putting your clothes in the machine, pouring in some soap, and clicking a button. Much easier than you thought.
In fact, this psychological problem of misinterpreting faces is so common, there are entire drawing systems (like drawing upside down, drawing the negative space around the face, etc.) designed to combat these problems.
Here’s my attempt to locate the peak of his head, the lowest point of his chin (which is located on the chin’s left side), the leftmost point of his cheek, and the rightmost point of his ear.
During the sketching phase of my self-portrait, I didn’t need to see precise tone, so sketching at night was no problem.
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Today, I’m going to practice finding the correct proportions of the subject’s head using a few celebrities: Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, and Morgan Freeman.
The surface of a cube is much easier for someone to shade realistically compared to a sphere because you can clearly see which sides of the object are facing the light and which ones are facing away. These flat surfaces are called planes.
To do so, tomorrow, I’ll focus, not on perfectly detailing the mouth and cheek, but instead, broadly blocking in the right tonal values.
To get a smooth shade, you’ll want thick strokes which are close together. Move your hand high up on the pencil and away from the tip. The more you angle the side of your lead towards the paper, the thicker your strokes will be. The thicker, the better! These strokes can be easily blended.
However, in my past three posts (I made a mistake, Intentionally defacing my self-portrait, and Fighting for photorealism), I’ve tried to interrupt this trend, and share some of the day-to-day challenges I face.
Here is my “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet”, which features step-by-step instructions on how to draw a portrait.
I’ve also experimented using optical tools (like mirrors and lens) to mechanically create. Although, I haven’t invested enough time to produce anything worth sharing.
I use this technique to convey wrinkled or highly textured skin as well as some types of fabrics.
Arguably, the contrast of the Derren Brown portrait makes it a more visually compelling portrait, but this is another topic completely (first, I wanted to master accurate portraiture before tackling well-composed portraiture).
I can’t seem to easily get the hair to be one smooth black mass. Instead, the grain of the paper is very noticeable, giving me a nice salted look. Even after aggressive blending with a blending stump and a dry brush, I still can’t get the material distributed nicely on the paper.
In Photoshop, I overlaid my sketch on the photo to check. I was pretty accurate.
The range of values can vary greatly from one portrait to another due to lighting or skin color. The 2 faces below have very different highlights, mid-tones and shadows.
Side note: Here’s a video of Derren Brown, the subject of my portrait, when he used to have hair, experimenting with some of these alternative methods of painting. It’s a pretty cool trick.(If you’re going to watch, stick it out until the end).
The portrait just feels balanced at this point. As soon as I start adding tonal values, that balance will be disrupted, and won’t return until I’m nearly done with the whole portrait.
With the general tones in place, I’ll have enough momentum to push the portrait towards completion.
3c.) Select 3 very different faces from a magazine and draw vertical and horizontal contour lines across each face.
So, I sighted the correct angles, and adjusted the construction lines accordingly.
In January, 2016, I was just starting to develop the itch to draw/paint portraits. In an attempt to make something that was commercially viable (to cover the cost of materials), I decided to paint a portrait of Donald Trump.
After checking the angles again, I updated these two new points.
As a result, the rest of my apartment is lit via Ikea floor lamps, which, although they do a 90% good job, it turns out, at night, there’s just not enough light for detail-oriented drawing.
For example: If I’m shading a face using the circulism method, I will also use circulism to outline shadows and highlights on the face. If you don’t outline your shadows or highlights, then this method may not apply to you (It’s very effective for drawing hairlines though).
This shading technique consists of a series of lines that go in one general direction. You can increase the value by applying more pressure and or using a softer grade of pencil.
First, I drew in the vertical center line, which will help me laterally place the features.
The pencil grades I use the most for portrait drawing are: HB, 4B, 6B and 8B from Derwent. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.
This is a method I came up with a while back where I only use a specific shading technique to outline areas of light and shadow before I shade. I don’t want to explain it using 3 paragraphs every time I refer to it, so I’m going to call it shadow lining from now on. I think it’s a car detailing term but it fits, so I’ll just use it.
Core Light: The area on the surface of a form that faces the light source directly. It is darker than the highlight. Highlight: A reflection of the light source on the form. The highlight is the lightest area and will appear in different places depending on your viewing angle.
At certain angles, the highlight will not exist in your line of sight. On glossy surfaces, it will be very defined, while appearing soft on matte surfaces. Mid-Tones: Mid-tones are the darkest values on the light side, and are lighter than the core shadow.
These areas are not facing the light directly. Mid-tones appear darker and darker as they approach the shadow side, as the surface of the form starts facing away from the light. Image 2
If you’re shading into a lighter area, though, it helps to reduce the amount of pressure at the end of the stroke so you get a nice gradient instead of an abrupt change in value.
Observation about today’s session: Based on the output from today, it may seem like today’s drawing was the most technically challenging. But, in fact, I found just the opposite.
In other words, if I can remember the process, which, in my opinion, only depends on two very straightforward insights, I will always be able to draw at the level I can now.
In other words, if the highlight on the forehead is angular, drawing it with rounded edges wouldn’t properly capture the form.
Yesterday, I practiced triangulating the proportions of a few celebrity heads.
Are you frustrated by inconsistent, short, choppy strokes? Improve the quality of your strokes and increase your stroke length by harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder.
Your pencil grip and wrist movement should be generally loose, except when shading the darkest values and doing detailing work. Use light to medium pressure and switch to a softer pencil when the one you are using cannot go any darker.
For the face on the left, I would shade my drawing with an HB for outlines and eye-whites, a 4B for the rest of the face and maybe a 6B for the pupils.
How to draw: 95 tutorials for drawing animals, people, landscapes
You can click on the links below to quickly jump to any section of the tutorial. However, I highly suggest you read all the way through!
After many more minutes of work on the eye, I stop for the night. I’ll continue more tomorrow.
Start by identifying the absolute darkest and absolute lightest areas of the drawing. For the darkest areas, shade them as dark as you can/want. For the lightest areas, highlight them as light as you can/want.
You guys asked for it, so here it is: the most requested tutorial to date: How to Shade + Shading Techniques! 🙂
6a.) Shade the 2 shapes using an overhand grip while moving your elbow and shoulder. Make sure to scribble on a separate sheet of paper before you begin to increase the thickness of your lines. Make sure that each stroke you make reaches the full length of each shape. Only lift your pencil once you get from one end to the other.
The side facing the light consists of the core light, highlight and mid-tones.
In particular, as I said on Day 35, I believe that it’s most important to accurately capture the proportions of the head, the head shape, and the level of the features. If these things are done correctly, the rest of the process is very forgiving. If not, the portrait will end up beautifully shaded, but won’t look like the subject.
The hardest part of shading hands down is being able to add the right amount of value in the right spots.
Shading in many layers. You’ll notice that with each added layer, the dots reduce in size and number. You can also use a sharp pencil to carefully fill in large or weirdly shaped dots to improve the texture of your shading.
Or you can blend the graphite using a blending tool of your choice.
The trick, then, is to create a mechanism to force deliberate and consistent practice month after month. This is the hard part about learning these new skills, not the time required.
I started by adjusting the center line slightly for the nose, and marking the nose’s outer boundary.
I finished up my key, by adding shadows to the lower face and the back of the head, and was ready to begin modeling the form (finding the intermediate values between the darks and lights).
Since I was accurate with the face shape and the level of features, if I continued working, I suspect I would develop the face fairly accurately. As a result, I would likely have enough accurate information to gradually correct the major mistakes with the head and hair shape.
Sometimes, we may have the tendency to over represent or exaggerate subtle forms such as eye bags, pimples and smile lines. Instead of defining a form using an outline or line, practice representing these forms using gradients.
Black: With graphite pencils, you won’t get a deep black. However, you can achieve it with charcoal. They are actually very commonly used together with amazing results.
Aside from practicing proper shading and blending techniques, a good understanding of light, planes and contours are crucial for turning a flat line drawing into a realistic portrait that conveys the illusion of form, bringing your drawing to life.
Additionally, while doing this, to check the accuracy of my key, I started developing the eye.
After working for about an hour, I was able to finish sketching the outline of the head, hair, and neck.
Finishing the sketchDefacing the sketch (a.k.a. adding tonal values)Finishing the sketch
I ended up across the street from my apartment at a well-lit coworking space, which was great for drawing, but not-so-great for picture-taking. The abundance of overhead lights meant that, however I positioned my body, I was always casting a shadow on the portrait.
This post is sponsored by my education company Openmind. Openmind connects you with world-class mentors to help accelerate your learning and success. Learn more here.
In fact, in order to draw a reasonable portrait, you only need to know the two following skills:
My tonal approach is noticeably different than that used on the Derren Brown portrait.
The center plane in the first image is shaded with a solid tone, making it appear flat. The following two images introduce a range of very subtle tones, giving the surface slight bumps.
In this case, the best I can do is show a photo that demonstrates the level of drawing I’m aiming to reach…
Instead, I got caught up making micro-changes to the parts of the portrait I’ve already worked on (the eyes, nose, forehead, etc.). It seems I can make small improvements forever.
Yesterday, I was able to sketch about 80% of the portrait. Today, I just need to add the final details.
A few days ago, I finished drawing my first portrait. Since then, I’ve reread my notes, reviewed some parts of the course, and wrote up my “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet”.
Today, like yesterday, I continued adding tonal values to the portrait. I spent a little less than two hours, and am getting really excited about the results.
Thus, instead of relying on visual inferences, tonal values can be better approximated through a simple, not-so-interpretative procedure.
Soft pencils produce dull and dark lines which are easy to blend. Soft pencils deposit more graphite with less effort, making it easy to fill in space, blend, shade and add texture to your drawing. They are the best pencils for shading and drawing portraits!
The side facing away from the light consists of the core shadow and reflected light.
Less purposefully, I chose a photo where the midtone of my face was darker than the paper.
However, I don’t think the same is true for my newly-found drawing skills. Mostly because… I didn’t learn anything new this month.
1.f) Layering: Use an HB pencil to shade an even layer of graphite across the page. Split the area into 4 spaces labeling them 3, 2 and 1. Add a darker layer of graphite over your first layer from left to right and ease up on the pressure as you approach 1. Do the same thing except this time stopping at 2. Then the same thing for 3.
When shading with a variety of pencil grades, each pencil should only cover a small range of values.
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Have a look at the video below, then read on for nine tips for creating beautiful black and white drawings – or blue and white, if that’s your thing…
I considered drawing in the bathroom, but this isn’t entirely comfortable. Especially because I was worried that the portrait would get wet/damaged on the sink, whose counter is the most viable drawing area.
To achieve a realistic drawing that communicates form and depth, your drawing will need to have a wide range of values. Invest in a set of high quality pencils with a range of grades that fit your specific drawing needs.
Finally, I added in shapes for the eyelids and eyes, and finished up for the day.
With these four outer points drawn, the next step is to draw in the shape of the head. To do this, I continued to triangulate more points, and draw in the necessary curves to connect them.
However, now that I’m trying to carefully model the lights/shadows of my face, I need more light.
Avoid holding your pencil like you would if you were writing, especially if you just sharpened your pencil. The lines are more difficult to blend and it requires more time and effort to keep your strokes tight, not to mention cover more ground. A drawing shaded like this will look very scratchy.
The addition of these values are subtle, but do their job in transforming a flat surface into a more shapely one. Also take a close look at the right forehead plane. The shading is even more subtle, but still does not come across as flat.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this month, British illusionist Derren Brown originally inspired me to start drawing portraits. In fact, to acknowledge this inspiration, Derren was the subject of my first portrait.
To do this, I used a new technique I learned called triangulation. To triangulate a new point, I first sight (try to visualize) the angles to this new point from two existing points. Then, I draw lines from the existing points in the direction of the new point based on the sighted angles. Finally, I mark the new point where the lines intersect.
The cross hatching technique consists of overlapping lines coming from multiple directions.
This position can, however work very well for shading areas of the skin with fine lines/wrinkles.
In the course, the teacher mentioned that it’s good to start with a small area that exhibits the full range of tones.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before and while you shade:
It’s starting to look like me, but it still looks like a drawing — mostly because I haven’t blended the newly developed areas like the neck, cheek, mouth, ear, forehead, etc. Pretty much the whole thing.
There are also clearly major differences, like evaluating and mixing colors, general painting hygiene (letting paint dry, etc.), and best practices I’m probably not yet aware of.
Clearly, I have some amount of obsessive compulsiveness going on, but I’m curious to know what you think…
While technology-aided art still should probably count as art (in some capacity), this month, I’m committed to creating using only the tools shown below: 9 black pencils, 1 white pencil, a few different erasers, and a gray piece of paper (which I’ll explain another time).
And here’s my attempt to locate the peak of her hair, the lowest point of her chin (again on the chin’s left side), the rightmost point of her cheek, the leftmost point of her hair, and the notch of her neck.
Shading is the process of applying varying levels of darkness to create the illusion of form and depth.
Progress still seems fairly slow on the drawing, but I’m making a conscious effort to work carefully through the blocking in phase (so I can practice what I’m learning, and so I can ensure the portrait is built on a strong foundation).
Since, without deconstruction, the kitchen table doesn’t fit through the bathroom door (I tried…), I needed to find somewhere else to work tonight.
With Derren, I wanted to ensure the portrait emanated three-dimensionality, so I pushed aggressively on the contrast of the portrait. I also didn’t care much for the micro-gradations of shadow/light, as I was more concerned with the correctness of the bigger shapes.
For the exercises below, try to implement the shading tips and techniques mentioned in Part 2 of the tutorial. You can apply different shading techniques to the exercises too (cross hatching, circulism, etc).
Is your shading incorrectly representing the form you intended to draw?
How to Shade a Face How to Shade an Eyeball …will add more soon! Understanding Pencil Grades
In particular, I’m going try to reduce the amount of time necessary to complete a portrait like this. With some practice, I think I can reduce my time down from 14.5 hours to 4–5 hours.
As a result, the portrait definitely has a stunning roundness, but I wouldn’t call it photorealistic.
After spending nearly a month learning to draw portraits, I’m more convinced than ever that anyone can draw. Even if you don’t have any artistic talent.
A cast shadow appears when a form blocks light from reaching the surface of another form. The edges of a cast shadow can appear soft or hard depending on the intensity and distance of the light source. In direct sunlight the edges will appear hard, while in diffused light such as a cloudy day, edges will be soft.
I’m happy with the result, and actually think the self-portrait looks a lot like me.
Once the key is established, and the lightest and darkest values are in place, the intermediate values need to be introduced. Again, this can be done procedurally, by identifying and shading/highlighting the areas which are slightly lighter than the darkest darks and slightly darker than the lightest lights. Continuing recursively in this way, the tonal values eventually meet in the middle, and the drawing (or the relevant part of the drawing) is complete.
When compared with the before, the difference is pretty striking. In the before portrait, I look like a sickly, pencil-sketched version of myself, while the after version has a much nicer roundness and weight to it.
Last month, when I was learning to memorize a deck of cards at grandmaster speeds, I started unintentionally seeing playing cards in the real-world. In particular, real-world things (like wheelchairs and airplanes), which have association in my mnemonic system, were triggering images of playing cards, without any conscious thought on my part.
This is clearly not the right approach. Especially because… As I begin shading the mouth, I will need to make adjustments to the nose area, so everything fits together. As I begin shading the cheek, I will need to make adjustments to the eye area, so everything fits together. And so on.
With all the steps documented, it’s now time to deliberately practice the most important skills.
Basically, I’ve used everything at my disposal (except for fine arts skills) to create artistically.
Tomorrow, I’m going to go through my previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and write up a “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet”. Then, I’m going to break down the cheat sheet into isolated, practicable skills and drills, work on those individual skills for 1–2 weeks, and then start working on my self-portrait to finish off the month.
Lastly, I blocked in the main structures of the ear and added an outline for the beard.
For my first portrait of the month, I’m quite happy with how it turned out.
With the features in place, I next blocked in shapes for the shadows and highlights.
I made a bit of a mistake here. I drew the horizontal construction lines perpendicular to the center line (which seemed reasonable), but did not mimic the angle of the features in the actual drawing.
It turns out drawing is very similar. From the outside, it seems much more complex than it actually is. However, once you learn the two or three basic principles, drawing (at least, at my level) becomes nearly as straight forward as doing your laundry.
In the coming days, I will write a few detailed posts about what I’ve learned, how I plan to move forward, etc., but for now, I’ll just share the final photos of my progress.
M2M Day 33: There’s a science to drawing portraits, and it’s all based on trianglesToday, I spent 2.5 hours starting the drawing course and beginning my first portrait.medium.com
In fact, challenges are probably a good thing (I hope). Ideally, they push me to become a better artist.
This may seem like an odd way to start an article on black and white drawings, but when I was a kid, my favourite drawing tool was a blue crayon. I drew everything in that one colour – the sky, the sea – and things that weren’t even blue, like my neighbour’s cat, our house, and my family. These monochrome drawings helped me develop the skills to know how to draw in black and white.
Tim’s journey is documented in the Penn and Teller-produced film “Tim’s Vermeer”, which I highly recommend you check out.
Today, to celebrate the New Year, I decided to compile my personal highlights from 2016, which includes Month to Master, but also everything else from my life.
With the features and shadows blocked in, I detailed the features, starting with the eyes.
Yesterday, I declared this month’s challenge a success, noting the differences between my before and after self-portraits.
Nevertheless, even with these critiques in isolation, the portrait as a whole comes together nicely and captures a strong likeness. Thus, I’ve left it as is, since I care more about an overall likeness (versus a non-cohesive collection of individually accurate features).
Today, I spent another 2.5 hours watching the course and working on the portrait.
Art 9 top tips for drawing in black and white 9 top tips for drawing in black and white
6B: Darkest shadows, hair, clothes, dark areas of background, pupils, inside the mouth and nostrils.
If you need help selecting the best pencil grades for a portrait, create a value scale using your own graphite pencils, compare the values to your reference image directly and select the range of pencils that closely match the values you need.
Getting to this point took me 2.5 hours, which was split between watching the video course and drawing my Derren portrait.
Then, I simply filled in the sketch with paint according to my computer-generated instructions.
Nevertheless, I will persist, since, even with the sizing mistake (and the associated challenges), I’m quite happy with the portrait so far.
My CritiqueThe face shape is accurateThe level of the features is accurateThe angle of the features is accurateThe center line curves a little too quickly as it moves up between the eyesThe neck shape is inaccurate — I especially misestimated the starting point of the neck on the right side.
Above the right eye, the angle of the head/hair is too steepThe peak of the head is too steepThe angle of the hair above the ear isn’t steep enough
The InstructionsMark the top of the head. Arbitrarily draw a line towards the top of the page. This represents the top of the head.Mark the bottom of the chin. Arbitrarily draw a line near the lower third of the page.
This represents the bottom of the chin.Mark the notch of the neck. On the subject, using your pencil as a guide, measure the distance from the lowest point of the head to the notch of the neck. Determine how many of these distances can fit inside the vertical distance of the head.
Use this is as guide to draw a horizontal line towards the bottom of the page to represent the notch of the neck.Find the highest point of the head. Arbitrarily determine a point on the top line. This represents the highest point of the head.
Often, on the subject, this point sits far back on the head.Find the lowest point of the chin. Using your pencil as a guide, determine the angle from the highest point of the head to the lowest point of the chin.
Draw a line at this angle from the highest point of the head (as marked on the page) down towards the bottom of the chin line. Draw a dash where these lines intersect. This intersection represents the lowest point of the chin.
Find the leftmost boundary. Identify the leftmost boundary on your subject. Determine the angle to this leftmost point from the highest point, and draw a line at that angle from the highest point towards the leftmost boundary on the page.
Do the same from the lowest point. Draw a marking where these two lines intersect. This intersection represents the leftmost boundary. The technique used to find this boundary is called triangulation.
Find the rightmost boundary. Again, triangulate from the highest and lowest points to find the rightmost boundary of the head.Check the angle. On the subject, use your pencil to find the angle between the leftmost and rightmost boundaries.
Check if this angle matches the angle represented on the page. If not, retriangulate and check again.Draw the outer-boundary of the head and hair. Triangulate points around the head and connect them with straight lines.
Once the general shape seems right, smooth out the kinks. Check the angles between various points on the subject and on the page to make sure everything looks right. If there seems to be inconsistencies, retriangulate and adjust.
Do the same for the hair line.Draw the vertical center line. Pick some central point that looks like its on the vertical center line. Triangulate from outer-points inwards to find this central point. Check the angle from the bottom/center of the chin to this point.
Use this as a guide to draw in the entire vertical center line. As the center line approaches the top of the head, it typically flattens, as it rounds back behind the head.Draw the level of the eyes. The level of the eyes typically falls about halfway between the top and bottom of the head.
Use this as a starting point. Draw in this level, and then check angles to confirm. Move up or down until everything checks out.Draw in the level of the brows and bottom of the nose. If you divide the face length into thirds, typically the level of the brows fall on the upper third line and the level of the nose falls on the bottom third line.
Use this as a starting point. Draw in these level, and the check angles to confirm. Move the level up or down until everything checks out.Draw in the level of the start of the nose. The nose begins somewhere between the level of the brows and the level of the eyes.
Gauge where this is and draw it in.Draw in the bottom and middle of the lips. If you divide the distance between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin into halves, the level of the bottom of the lips typically falls at the halfway point.
Use this as a starting point to draw in this level. Then, gauge where the middle of the lips falls relative to the distance between the bottom of the lips and the bottom of the nose. Draw that in.Adjust the center line for the nose.
Starting from the level of the start of the nose, adjust the center line so its angle matches the center line of the nose. Typically this will be in two parts. The angle outwards from the level of the start of the nose to the peak of the nose, and the angle inwards from the peak of the nose to the bottom of the nose.
Adjust the center line for the mouth. The mouth typically has some volume, which pushes the center line forward. Adjust the center line forward below the nose to account for the volume in the mouth.Draw in the shape of the eyes and eye sockets.
Triangulate the corners of the eyes, and then draw in the complete shapes. Do the same for the lids and the eye sockets.Draw in the shape of the brows. Triangulate the corners of the brows, and then draw in the complete shapes.
Draw in the shape of the nose. Triangulate the peak of the nose and the wing of the nose. Then, draw in the complete shape.Draw in the shape of the mouth. Triangulate the corners of the mouth. Then, draw in the complete shape.
Draw in the level of the chin. Triangulate the level of the chin, and draw a line to distinguish the shape.Draw in the shape of the ear. Triangulate points of angle-change around the ear. Connect these points with appropriately angled lines, and then smooth out the kinks.
Draw in shadow shapes. Identify shapes of main shadow areas. Triangulate their boundaries and draw them in.Darken the shadow shapes. Lightly shade in the shadow areas of the portrait. Use a soft, clean paint brush to smooth out the material on the page.
This will introduce some 3-dimensionality to your portrait, which should help you better visualize if anything doesn’t seem quite right. If there is something that seems incorrect, fix it.Detail the eyes.
Draw in the iris, pupils, and other details.Detail the nose. Draw in the nostrils and other details.Detail the lips. Smooth out the shape of the lips.Detail the ear. Draw in some of the main inner land marks.
Key the drawing. Identify the lightest and darkest tones on the subject, and add these tones to the page.Modeling an area. Pick an area of the head (like the forehead), and detail some of the main places of tone-change.
Identify and add in the main light and dark areas. Using a shading stump and the necessary pencils, fill in the transition tones. To better see the shapes of highlights and shadow, squint your eyes until the face isn’t recognizable as a face, but rather a collection of tonal blobs.
Model the remaining areas. Continue as above until all areas are modeled.Sign it. And you’re done.
Finally, I completed the neck, decided not to address the clothes, signed it, and I was done.
On December 24, 2016, after 26 hours of practice, I found out that the answer was yes.
Tomorrow, I’ll starting adding tonal values (i.e. shading) to the drawing.
Create a value scale to use for cross referencing if needed.
Considering where I started only nine days ago (see the before portrait), it’s hard for me to believe that I actually drew this. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely excited about the outcome.
Today, I spent 30 minutes sketching the head shape and feature guides.
Download the printable worksheets below and follow the instructions carefully. If you don’t have a printer, that’s okay. Follow along using your sketchbook!
Last month, it only took me 22 hours to become a grandmaster of memory.
Something to think about as you start planning your 2017 resolutions…
Basically, you look at the area you want to draw, squint your eyes (so the image becomes blurred and your brain no longer sees a face), and identify the tonal shapes you see through your eyelashes. This works super well. (I didn’t invent this method, I’ve just validated that it works for me).
Derren looks a bit too shiny right now — a bit like a mannequin or the Tin Man — but I’m optimistic that this effect will vanish once I model the rest of the form.
In the image on the right, the light source is coming from the top left. The area facing the light is the light side and the area facing away from the light is the shadow side.
1. Start with the most extreme values and then meet in the middle
During the month of December, I documented my entire learning process in a series of 31 daily blog posts, which are compiled here into a single narrative. In this article, you can relive my month of insights, frustrations, learning hacks, and triumphs, as I strive towards monthly mastery.
Just looking at the sketch, the head shapes seems a little narrow for Matt Damon. But, overlaid on the photo, it seems to match up.
I think that’s a pretty cool thing, so look out for my Medium post in 20 years.
Ballpoint pens make readily accessible and easy to use drawing tools for black and white pictures. They also present their own challenges and limitless possibilities, which we’ll explore in these drawing tips.
The first module of the course focuses on mapping out the portrait, which includes determining the shape of the head and locating the features.
Anyway, I think the takeaway is that I need to invest in a better pencil sharpener…
4.a) Determine the direction of the light and shade vertically along each jagged line. Around sharp edges, tighten your terminator and loosen it around smoother edges. If you really want a challenge, give each image cast shadows as well.
M2M Day 36: Throwing some shadeThis post is part of Month to Master, a 12-month accelerated learning project. For December, my goal is to draw a…medium.com
Establishing the key is straightforward, and doesn’t require much visual interpretation (i.e. it’s easy to find the lightest lights and the darkest darks).
While I am still very positive about this project, and happily take on the micro-challenges, I thought sharing some of these things would be more interesting than writing about how every day is always better than the last.
Here’s an example from my face shading tutorial using the hatching technique.
Tomorrow, I’ll make some minor tweaks, sign it, and hang it on the wall.
On December 1, 2016, I asked myself the question: With only one month of practice, can I learn how to draw realistic portraits with only pencil and paper?
Today, I didn’t have too much time to draw. So, I quickly progressed the Matt Damon sketch I started two days ago.
This month, to learn how to draw portraits, I’ll be following the Portrait Drawing video course from Vitruvian Studio.
Even with the narrow tonal range, my self-portrait still maintains a believable roundness and depth.
I think this is going to be a theme for the entire Month to Master project: If my practice is deliberate and consistent, it’s going to take a lot less time than expected to master these seemingly expert-level skills.
Today, I spent an hour developing out the rest of my self-portrait.
Before shading a portrait, it’s good practice to simplify what you see by breaking areas of the face into planes so your brain can process the information better. This allows you to find patterns of light more easily and can also improve your overall drawing accuracy.
Because markers use so much ink, they tend to run out quickly. However, just because a marker is fading doesn’t mean it’s not useful anymore. Markers that are running out of ink are great for creating texture or blending together tones. I find them just as necessary in the drawing process as fresh new markers.
Yesterday, after 7.5 hours of work, I finally finished sketching / laying out my first portrait. Today, I started adding tonal values (a.k.a. “shading the drawing”).
Of course, these paintings are built on a prerequisite foundation of drawing, but they also introduce a whole new skill set that I would love to cultivate.
Drawing techniques: 7 fundamentals of pencil drawing06. Keep it light
In order to accurately see tonal shapes, and avoid psychological errors, I’ve found one method to be surprisingly successful: squinting.
A smaller drawing offers smaller margins for error. If I slightly misplace the corner of the mouth or the height of the brow, the distance between the correct and incorrect placements represents a proportionally larger difference on a smaller drawing.
In other words, smaller drawings are less forgiving and errors are more pronounced.A smaller drawing means finer details. My pencil sharpener doesn’t seem to work very well with the pencils I have, which means I’m drawing the tiny eyelids on my self-portrait with a tree trunk.
Basically, the smaller drawing requires that I work in finer areas, which is challenging with the tools I have.
You can also hold your pencil with a regular grip which would give you more precision, but it’s not as good for shading large spaces where you need the shading to be smooth.
This is my longest tutorial to date, consisting of more than 3,400 words! I tried to cover as much as I could in this tutorial. If there’s something you’d like me to add, please let me know!
Next, I start on the prominent eye. This is where the real defacing starts, as it’s going to be a while until it doesn’t look like I’m wearing makeup.
With the exception of the oddly tiny ear, everything else seems to line up well. The head shape, face shape, and hair shape seem accurate. The level of the features and the center line seem accurate. The wing of the nose is a bit too far to the right, but I really just threw that in for fun.
The HB pencil (aka #2 pencil) is absolutely great for drawing preliminary outlines and shading light areas because it doesn’t require much effort to produce faint lines. However, you’ll need to apply a lot of pressure when it comes to shading dark shadows. All this effort can damage your paper, resulting in a drawing that doesn’t translate well from multiple viewing angles. Not to mention, it will be impossible to erase.
Since the demo portrait in course is based on a long-haired female model, I had to do a bit more freestyling at this point. I think it works.
This technique is similar to hatching or cross hatching, except you’re curving the lines to follow the contour of the form you are shading. Contour lines can be drawn vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. This is a great shading technique to practice giving form to your line drawings. With a sharp pencil tip, it’s great for shading fine wrinkles.
Tomorrow, I need to finish the mouth, the ear, the neck, the lower part of the beard, and perhaps the clothing.
When shading, you are essentially reproducing the value of light as it interacts with a form. Understanding light is crucial in order to create a convincing portrait.
Before I begin drawing in earnest, I like to first plan out my drawings using small thumbnails. Regardless of what drawing tool I’m using, thumbnails help me figure out composition and readability, which helps me avoid errors before I commit them to paper. Employing thumbnails also allows me to explore ideas quickly and by sketching small, I force myself to simplify and focus only on the important elements of my drawings.
5a.) Select any 3 objects around you and simplify them using geometric shapes. Shade them once you’re done.
Ballpoint pens are great to draw with because we can make beautifully thin lines with them and create a lot of contrast. However, pens can also be very unforgiving: every mark is permanent – and so is every errant ink blotch! A big ink blotch could suddenly form and ruin your drawing forever.
Should I just start the next challenge once I finish the previous one? I’m not sure. On one hand, this seems reasonable and time-efficient. On the other hand, there is something very tidy about starting on the first of each month.