Portraits

Portrait drawing is frequently the type of drawing that people would most like to be able to do, so that they can make reasonable likenesses of their friends and relatives. The first important thing is to understand the structure of the head. Without attention to its general shape, you will not be able to make a very convincing portrait, or even a caricature. When people start drawing the human head there is a tendency to concentrate on the face of the sitter, and it is often drawn larger in scale than the overall size of the head. This is natural enough, but something you will have to correct for the future.

Start practising either from life, which is the most effective way, or from clear photographs. Gradually you will become accustomed to the relative shape of any head and then, even if you still don't quite capture the likeness, at least you will have a head that looks as though it belongs to a real person.

When it comes to tonal values in the portrait, you may well find that the colour of the human face is not always uniform. If a person has quite dramatic changes of colour in their facial features, you could be tempted to put them in very strongly. However, this could reduce the structural composition, turning it into a caricature of the real person. In order to avoid this, grade your colour gradually from one part of the face to the next and the result will look more natural.

Then, of course, you will need to look at the various features of the face, until you know how to draw them from any angle. What identifies a face as belonging to a specific person is the particular arrangement of the features and their relationship to each other. So, carefully consider the arrangement of your sitter's features, even if you have to measure them to make sure that you have the right proportions. Interestingly, the features of most faces are very similar to each other in terms of measurements. However, there are lots of small distinctions of shape and form that will make all the difference when you come to draw. Our eyes are so accustomed to scanning faces that they discern even the tiniest differences between one face and another.

Don't neglect to study every face that you see. It always stands a portrait artist in good stead.

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