You are currently viewing How to start: Portrait drawing for beginners

How to start: Portrait drawing for beginners

Let’s start with some basic rules:

  • The eyes are in the middle of the face.
  • The nose is on the half of the bottom half of the face.
  • The hairline is on the half of the upper half of the face.
  • The lips are under the nose, just a little above the middle of the bottom quart.

How do you start?

  • Start with a vertical line on paper, then put a shorter horizontal line in the middle of this line.
  • Now connect the ends of the lines with sketch lines, this way you draw the oval for the shape of the face. Note, put light sketch lines because these are not the final lines yet. This is the basic shape for the head.
  • On the horizontal line you draw, still with sketch lines, the shape of the eyes. Note that there is room for one eye between the two eyes, and that there is a small amount of space left and right.
  • Divide the lower half into two equal parts.
  • Then draw the basic shape of the nose into a triangle. The nose divides the piece under the eyes again in two. You do not need to measure this with a ruler, you can also “measure” with your pencil if the halves are the same.
  • Then the lips, which come in the empty space under the nose, just above the middle, the bottom of the lower lip is on the middle of the quart.
  • Draw the hairline in the middle of the upper half, this is another helpline, only indicate where the hair starts.
  • Notice the line, it is slightly bent. If necessary, look in the mirror to get an idea.
  • The eyes still look a bit bald, so draw the eyebrows above the eyes. First set a line to indicate the general direction, then draw the loose hairs of the eyebrows themselves.
  • Then you draw the ears left and right, between the eyes and the bottom of the nose.
  • Now before you loose yourself into detailed drawing: Check the proportions, did you draw everything in the right place? Also check that your mouth corners are in the middle of the eyes.
  • The neck is quite wide, so do not draw it too narrow, just past the ears down. Shoulders, even if you are not so muscled, are quite broad in comparison to your head, so draw them wide enough.

Need more help? Watch the video below.


Some more tips for drawing:

  • Look in the mirror! You can be a model for your drawing yourself. There is a reason that artists often make self-portraits. A free and always available model!
  • Measure your own face once, and compare the proportions. Are your eyes really on the middle of the face?
  • Look at the relationship between your shoulders and your neck. How broad are they compared to the size of your head?
  • What shape do your eyes have? Is there a difference in the rounding up and down?
  • Start, as always, with light guides so that you can search for the shape a bit more.
  • Make all the complicated shapes, such as your nose, a basic shape first, and then work out the complicated shapes afterwards when you are sure the proportions are correct.
  • Remember that the very first drawing has already been successful if you have drawn (part of) the proportions correctly. Once you have mastered these relationships, you can practice making increasingly creative and individual drawings.

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