Start Drawing: Techniques for Pencil Portraits

, Portrait Artist

Student Projects View all projects →

Renate Tjelta

Renate Tjelta


Lauren Carpenter

Lauren Carpenter


Ramona Meisel

Ramona Meisel


Class Project

Draw a pencil portrait

About the Class

Drawing is an art that is accessible to anyone. Originally a self-taught artist, I learned so much through practice alone. However, through studying tutorials posted by peers online, taking classes with professional portrait artists, and by studying the works of old masters, I’ve been able to reach a new level of knowledge that I would love to pass on to anyone willing to learn.

I’m teaching this class to share my process with you so you can learn the drawing secret it has taken me years to discover: the most beautiful drawings are often the most simple drawings. 

What You'll Learn

In this class I'll teach you how to get started drawing your own beautiful life-like pencil portraits. We'll cover: 

  • Materials. Which materials and references will make for the best portraits. 
  • Basic Sketching. How to compose your basic sketch through gesture and accurate proportions.
  • Planes. How to understand light and shade on the planes of the face.
  • Features and Forms. How to structure the forms of your subject's eyes, nose, mouth, and hair. 
  • Finishing Touches. How to capture those finishing details that will really make your portrait special. 

What You'll Do

Use this class to get started on your own pencil portrait. Collaborate with classmates from all over the world and share your project for feedback. 

Class Supplies

You can get started with any pencil, paper and erasers but below are some more specific recommendations from me. 

  • Paper. Heavy weight bristol paper. I'd recommend: 100lb Canson vellum bristol, 9”x12” or 11”x14”
  • Pencils. Mechanical pencils, I'd recommend: 0.3mm Draft Line and 0.5mm graphite 925 Staedtler 
  • Lead. I'd recommend: Pentel lead refills 0.3mm 3H lead and 0.5mm 4B lead
  • Blenders. Tissues, q-tips, and blending stumps
  • Erasers. Regular erasers, I'd recommend: Pink Pearl eraser, kneaded eraser, and Faber-Castell eraser pencil

More Information

Level: Beginner

School: Design

Related Subjects: Art, Drawing, Sketching, Portrait, Pencil Drawing

At a Glance

  • 17 Video Lessons (1h 11m)
  • 1.2K Students
  • 98% Positive Reviews (47)
  • Self-Paced Online Class

About the Teacher

Gabrielle DeCesaris

Gabrielle DeCesaris

Portrait Artist

Gabrielle is an exciting young artist who is gaining attention in the art world.While proficient in creating her own images using charcoal, graphite and pastel, she also explores other...

98% Positive Reviews

Elvia Reyes

Elvia Reyes


I loved this class. I have always wanted to learn how to draw portraits. The instructions in the course made it easy for understand and learn drawing techniques. With more practice I w...

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