Materials For Drawing


To draw a portrait successfully, you need to be able to produce a solid, lifelike image of a head with recognizable features that identify the sitter. Work out the symmetry of the face by dividing it roughly into three equal parts. The top section is from the crown to the brow; the central section is from the brow to the end of the nose; and the bottom section is from the end of the nose to the bottom of the chin. Draw the eyes approximately one-eye's width apart and measure the triangle made by the eyes and the end of the nose as these are important features and define the particular shape of the face most accurately.


Lighting can radically affect the appearance of an individual. A full light shining straight on to the face will flatten the features and give you little chance to explore the depth of the head. Light shining on the side of the head creates a more interesting study, but if you want to exaggerate someone's personality or create '". v-'itr ti '-ci, ;.-> Hyhting therr 6r>*?ยป b-lc-j

Capturing a mood

Often the medium you use will reflect the mood of the sitter. A bold, heavy drawing in charcoal may signal an angry or defiant mood, a pencil drawing will enable you to describe a range of tones to give dimension to a portrait, while a delicate pen and ink drawing can pick up the subtle nuances of a person's character.


Portrait Drawing Materials

Yellows and oranges have been used for warm lights, and cool mauves and greys for areas in shadow.

Main materials

4B pencil

2 Block in the main areas of the face and hair with oil pastels, applying each colour loosely to cover the paper effectively. Oil pastels give a rich, colourful effect and adhere to the paper easily. Use a cloth dipped in turpentine to wipe away mistakes or colours you may want to change.

Yellows and oranges have been used for warm lights, and cool mauves and greys for areas in shadow.

Self portrait

Self portrait studies are a good way to practise drawing human features, although they often portray a rather confrontational gaze as a result of you staring at yourself in the mirror. Select the most essential and interesting features as you draw - if you attempt to capture every detail you may end up with an overworked drawing.

11 Set up a mirror in a convenient place so that you can see yourself easily and, if possible, where the light will cast shadows for an interesting effect. Sketch the shape of your head and features in pencil on a broad sheet of textured paper, keeping the drawing as large as possible.

3jk Use a finger or a piece of material to blend pastel marks together if you want to give a smoother texture to some areas of skin. Make sure the pastels are soft so that you can blend them easily on paper.

Main materials

4B pencil

Self Portrait Study

Oil pastels give this self portrait a richer, deeper effect than would ordinary pastels. The slight transparency of the oil pastels also allows separate lines of overlaid colour to create an optical mix. The size of the paper is significant in giving the artist more confidence to draw boldly and capture the strong lighting effects cast across Karen Raney the side of her face.

Pastel marks have been built up in layers to create an optical mix of colour.

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