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Portrait Drawing. Using Correct Proportions. In order to correctly draw the human portrait It is helpful to understand what lies beneath the skin. The Basic Underlying Structure . facial musculature. The Structure of the Neck. The Head in Profile.

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portrait drawing

Portrait Drawing

Using Correct Proportions


In order to correctly draw the human portrait

It is helpful to understand what lies beneath the skin


The face triangle is from the center of each pupil, through the nostrils of the nose to the point between the top front teeth. To me this is an important trait, every bodies triangle is a little different.The smiling mouth lines up under the pupils, the two iris usually equal the maximum smiling width of the mouth.



Human beauty is based on the Divine Proportion


Center of pupil : Bottom of teeth : Bottom of chin

Outer & inner edge of eye: Center of nose

Outer edges of lips : Upper ridges of lips

Width of center tooth : Width of second tooth

Width of eye : Width of iris






Facial Features


Step 2 –

The Initial Tones


Step 3 - The Final Tones

Carefully refine the strength and subtlety of the tone, softening the lines that join each plane with graduated areas of shading.

You must look more closely at this stage to try to discern the faint variations of shading within each area of tone.



the Mouth


The mouth is the second most expressive feature of the face. Great care should be taken in drawing its shape as it is a key element in achieving a likeness.

Start by drawing the subtle shape of the line that is formed as the lips meet. This will set a natural expression for the mouth.

The top lip has its characteristic bow shape which varies considerably from person to person. The bottom lip is usually larger than the top and more creased with vertical stretch lines.

Step 1 - The Initial Line Drawing



the Ear


Now that we know the basic proportions of the head, how do we apply these concepts to drawing from life? The trick is to take it a step at a time, and to trust your eyes. Keep proportion and perspective in mind, and remember that what you 'know' about the face may be very different from what you see, depending on the angle. Two of the most common faults are placing the eye too high on the face, and making the skull too short.

Drawing the Human Head from Life


Observing the subject, begin with a rough ball indicating the main part of the skull. Draw the line from forehead to chin, form the plane of the face, and add the jaw line and main features. Note that the line indicating the nose shows the base of the nose, not the tip. This will help with modeling the nose later.


Otis Art instructor video


Place the ear, construct the nose (in a frontal view using two lines along the length), draw the jaw line and indicate the brows, forehead and cheeks (depending on the pose). Position the eyes carefully.


Erase construction lines. Improve the line work, checking the model constantly, adding detail and correcting shape. Add hair. Note that the drawing of the neck and shoulders must also be accurate. This drawing has been darkened to demonstrate the observed lines. If you wish to shade your drawing, keep the line work light.



Practice drawing the head from many different angles. Observe how the facial muscles change as an expression changes.

Try taking your own reference photos.

Adults are easier to draw than children, as their features are more sharply defined.

Try doing some studies of a skull if you can, (try the local museum, art school or school science department) as this will help you understand the planes of the face.



Charcoal Portrait - How to


www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/2514/81/ - 19k



This drawing was done in Madrid many years ago when I was a young man. I kept it rolled up for about two decades, then brought it out again for the show at the Johnson Art Collection. This was a portrait done from life, of an american guy I lived with in Madrid for a short time. Unfortunately, he became quite psychotic and we parted ways rather poorly. I was grateful to him for some very kind things he did for me before he became so troubled, but it took me rather a long time to be able to appreciate this portrait of him. I like it very much now.

Title: Ray

Artist: Jim Meskimen


The story is this: I encountered a photo of this man in the obituary pages of the Times; he was a well-known street personality in Montreal, and had died at age 70 weighing over 500 lbs. His name was Antoine Bareckovitch, but he was known as "The Great Antonio". I have asked people from Montreal, and they knew who he was. He would do feats of strength on the streets of that city, often pulling a bus using his long rope of hair (he never cut his hair, apparently) and lifting heavy things for effect.I was attracted to his playful expression, his antique style of dress, and that strange rope of hair, capped with duct tape, that drapes his huge body. He was a real giant, over 7 feet tall; he must have really been a character.

Title: Strongman

Artist: Jim Meskimen