Drawing portraits can be difficult, but it can be much easier with a few simple techniques. The goal here is to ensure the success of the portrait from the very start. To do this, we need to plan ahead and follow a simple plan.
The first thing that you want to do is get the overall placement of the face down. You need to figure out how much room you will need on the page to get the face drawn. Decide how family portrait painting much of the body you want to show. If you want to cut off the top of the head and not show anything below the neck line, that’s fine. If you want to show the full head and most of the upper body, then you need to factor that in.
Once you have decided how much of the body you want to show, then it’s time to get down a rough outline. Keep it loose and light at this stage. Plan on erasing and fine tuning later. If you try to get down your lines perfectly at this stage, you will most likely get them placed incorrectly. No one puts down a perfect line on the first stroke. Now, skilled artists may be able to put down perfect lines with less effort, but chances are that you want to see how a line looks on paper before you decide that it is correct.
You can make your lines thick so you can go over them with a kneaded eraser to fine tune them. I like to think of it like sculpture. I sculpt the figure as I go. What I do is keep everything loose at this stage. I don’t put in any details like facial features. I will put down some lines for the facial features so I can see where they are going to be, but I will refrain from putting in too much detail. If you put in a lot of detail right away, then you run the risk of either not feeling like redoing it, or you mentally think that it is placed correctly when it really isn’t.
Once you have down a general rough outline, it’s time to see how the proportions are doing. If they look correct, then you should have a good likeness of the person. When this happens, you are free to finish the drawing. One advantage of doing it this way is that now you are already familiar with the face. On the second pass, you will be even more accurate.
Look for the big shapes first. Don’t worry about details until you get the overall gesture of the figure in place. Check your proportions and fine tune your lines. Then go for the details and refinements.
I’m sure that you will find that using this technique will help you do better portraits. Try it out on your next project. It may take a longer time to do, but the results should be much better if you have been struggling.