Art Nook at Home: Portrait Drawing Tips in Pencil

In today’s Art Nook at Home we’re taking inspiration from the portraits in Niamh Dooley Art‘s exhibition ‘Nintawin‘ and sharing tips and tricks for drawing portraits in pencil!

-Pencils (assorted hardness 2H-8B, start with your lightest pencil 2H, H, or 2B)
-Cartridge paper, bristol, bond or printer paper
-Blending stump, tissue, toilet paper or other blending tool (for shading)

Creating a Grid:
-a basic grid can help with the layout of each facial feature
-Start with a straight-on perspective (you can adapt the grid for other views later on)
-Draw an egg-shape using a large circle as base for the top of the head
-Measure and draw a horizontal and vertical line exactly halfway through the oval
-Divide the lower half of the oval into five vertical and horizontal sections

Tips for Facial Proportions:
-The face is five eye-widths wide
-Draw the eyes on the centre horizontal line leaving space for one eye-width between
-Draw the nose along the centre vertical line with the base two-fifths down
-Draw the mouth line on the mark two-fifths up from chin
-The base width of the nose is roughly the width of one eye
-The corners of the mouth align with the pupils
-The base of the ears aligns with the bottom of the nose

-Eyes are rounded and the shape of the eyelids reflect this
-The iris is round but usually covered and shaded, in part, by the eyelid
-Avoid drawing every eyelash and focus on large grouped strokes

-Noses are complex shapes so focus on shadow and light
-There is often a highlight on the ball and bridge of the nose
-Shadow often shows below the nose and where the bridge of the nose meets the brow

-Try to avoid outlining lips and instead create shape with shadow
-There are often deep shadows where lips meet and a shadow below the lower lip
-Even with a full smile you rarely see the full top and bottom set of teeth

Final Steps:
-Add eyebrows
-Add hair partially covering the brow
-Make sure to include and shade the neck
-Add shading and highlights to create more of the planes and depth of face
-Practice often!

This Art Nook at Home has been brought to you by Leah Louden, Rental & Sales Associate at AGSA