The art of pencil portrait drawing involves sketching the human face using correct measurement and baseline. A realistic portraiture demands an understanding of the basic concept of how to measure the image by comparing it to the nearest object. For beginners, it is easier to adopt the baseline strategy by simply employing a photograph of the subject and transform it into a portrait.
Being able to draw a human face is a skill that many people want to learn. It is such a rewarding hobby to be able to sketch a portrait of the people who matter in your life or simply anybody’s face that looks appealing or interesting to you. However, pencil portrait drawing is such a precise science that takes year to perfect. Even the masters lingered for years to amaze the world with their opus that capture the soul of their subjects.
Fundamentals of Creating a Pencil Portrait Drawing
Pick a physical object that can be seen in the photo measurable by a straight line like for example, the distance between the eyes or the two ears. The baseline can be established from there by calculating the width between the two points. Transfer the same line on your working paper. The calculated line becomes the baseline from where to anchor the proportion of all facial attributes. Equate the proportion to the baseline. It now becomes easier to measure all facial features by relating them to the baseline.
Perhaps the most important thing in portraiture is to be in a position that is as comfortable as possible to allow free movement of the body, not only of the model but of the artist as well. For some artists, this means being atop a stool in front of an easel. Position yourself almost adjacent to the paper instead of being in front. The key to this technique is to avoid looking at your work and make you loosen up until you calm down and be more relaxed with what you are doing. Train your eyes on what you see in your model and let your own judgment guide you as you glide the pencil on the canvas.
Move the pencil as your eyes follow the outline and every details of the subject as if there is an invisible line between your eyes, the model and your pencil. Keep the tip of the pencil glued to the paper and do not lift it. In case you reach an end, keep the pencil moving across to the next point and proceed with the same process again.
Tips in Drawing Portraits
• Find a good photo to be used as reference for your portrait project. Start with family photographs or celebrity photos that can be grabbed from the Internet or cut out from magazines. Choose the one with good light and shadow effects to create depth and character in your portraiture.
• Produce the photo in black in white to make the tones more visible. It is best to make a copy in exactly the same size of your working paper to have a more accurate measurement. Make a grid line over the photocopy then make diagonal lines crossing both the vertical and horizontal lines.
• Use the darkest tone to blacken the dark areas or the background. This method lifts the image from the other objects in the picture. Flatten the dark areas then work on to a gradual transition between the dark and light to create a gradient outline from the shadow to the edge of the light side. Start adding the midtones and retain the white spots as highlights. Use an eraser to lighten some areas.
Pencil portrait drawing is one of the most difficult genres of the fine arts. Artists who are good in drawing other subjects can encounter difficulties in making life-like portrayal of the human face using a pencil and a piece of paper. But, for beginners who persevere in gaining the basic knowledge on portraiture, his work can make any wall a good spot for hanging his prized artwork.