Drawing Portraits Tips

I am by no means a professional, and I also know that my work is not the best, but I thoroughly enjoy creating little pieces in my free time, and I know that without these tips I wouldn’t give myself any time to create. So today I took the time to make myself a coffee, sit down and draw a quick little sketch. I’ve run through the things that crossed my mind as I was going along, and documented the sketch as it came together. I hope you enjoy!

My first piece of advice for starting out would be to select a very striking image, this helps with growing your confidence and dramatically reduces the amount of things that could go wrong, or simply not sit right with you once you’ve finished.

Start out with the most basic outline you can see. Then fill in any little details of the face, again, keep it very basic. This is only so you can get a sense of scale and positioning of the features in a whole-portrait sense.

One of the biggest tips I would personally give to anyone who wants to draw people, but doesn’t because they don’t think they can do so confidently, is to always start within your comfort zone. I know from experience that I’m much less comfortable and confident drawing teeth. Over time I’ve accepted that if I really want to love a picture and find very little wrong with it, teeth aren’t visible. As you can see here, I was unhappy with the outline of the mouth so I went back and redrew it.

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The next best thing is to distract yourself from what you’re actually doing. Derren Brown gave a great tip during his stage show Svengali, to perhaps do it upside down. Here I chose a similar tactic of focussing on the shirt (ignoring that currently it looks like a sweater-vest) by putting in some collar and waistcoat detail.

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Another important thing to keep in mind is to embrace your own style. If everyone drew their subjects in exactly the same manner, it wouldn’t be art, it’d just be replicating an image. If someone draws something better than you, or they can portray something more realistically, it just means you have room to grow and develop your own style.

Unfortunately at some point you have to accept that you need to complete the head. This part can be rather daunting as hair often makes or breaks a picture. The only piece of advice I can give here is commit. If you want it to look realistic, you need to accept that it’ll take more time and you need to make individual hair-like lines. Pay attention to which direction the hair grows in, this rule heavily applies to eyebrows too. However, you can also commit to drawing hair in a less-realistic style, more cartoon-like and exaggerated. Just remember to commit otherwise you’ll have a confused style.

Finally take a break and return to the image a little later on. This will ensure that you’re happy with it as a whole, as you’re looking at it with much fresher eyes. I didn’t appreciate the fullness of the cheeks so I slimmed down the fullness of the face and then I was happy with it.

Above all other things to keep in mind when you want to create something, is to never force it. There’s a great quote that says “If you’ve got to force it, leave it alone, friendships, relationships, ponytails, just leave it.” The same rule applies to creating something, if you have to force yourself to do it, you’ll either slack off and end up hating the final product, or you’ll rush it and you’ll know it’s not your best.


I hope you guys enjoyed this very different post, and can take some little tips from it, if not about drawing, then definitely about ponytails. Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post, and what you’d like to see more of in future posts! Don’t forget you can request posts or ask me anything at any time in the ‘Contact Me’ link in the top bar too!


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