Draw Simple and Elegant Portraits Effectively With a Pencil | Helena Praxová | Skillshare

Draw Simple and Elegant Portraits Effectively With a Pencil

Helena Praxová, Artist and Illustrator

Draw Simple and Elegant Portraits Effectively With a Pencil

Helena Praxová, Artist and Illustrator

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7 Lessons (52m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Construction Of The Head

    • 3. Sketching Portrait Front View

    • 4. Sketching Portrait Side View

    • 5. Gesture

    • 6. Quick Small Heads

    • 7. Conclusion and Class Project

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About This Class

This class will teach you how to sketch pencil portraits effectively.

After taking this class, you will be able to sketch a portrait from scratch using construction and proportion correctly. You will end up with a really simple and stylish looking portrait sketch. Plus, you will go through some exercises which will help you train your hand and gain flexibility.

This class is not made to cover details, however, it will teach you how to simplify a great del.

You will learn:

  • Construction of the head 
  • Head proportion and measuring
  • Basic shading
  • Hand flexibility

Some links that will help you find references: Pinterest Unsplash (royalty free)  Pixabay (royalty free)

Quick timed references - just choose body parts and then heads: SketchDaily Reference Site

Some artists that I learned from: Proko, Andrew Loomis

All the materials I’ve used:

Moleskine Sketchbook

Rotring 600 Mechanical Pencil

Mono Zero Eraser

Books which helped me a great deal:

Drawing The Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

Drawing Light and Shade by Giovanni Civardi

Music from: Epidemic Sound

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Helena Praxová

Artist and Illustrator



Hi everyone! I'm a new teacher at Skillshare.

I have always loved drawing with a pencil, especially faces. As a little kid, I used to draw celebrities and my family and friends would always like my pictures and encouraged me to create more. As I was growing up, my passion radiated towards fantasy and surreal topics and I also started experimenting with watercolor and other different media....so one can say I'm a mixed media artist.

I have not attended any art school or a long term class, therefore, I'm a self-taught artist.

As I believe that anyone can learn anything by themselves, I would love to inspire people and help them out by sharing my knowledge by teaching. 🧡


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1. Introduction: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for stopping by. In this class you will learn the basics of how to sketch portrait with a pencil me. They'll be focusing mainly under more boring part of the portrait and that is measuring. I will try to make this stage more fun for you. You know, go through the construction of the head home scratch. Now show you how to sketch to face from the front view and decide view sharing some cool and unique tips along the way. Plus you will get some great exercises that will help you to get flexible and quicker. This glass is not going into the detailed portraiture. However, you will discover some basics on how to measure the face correctly and also some basic shading. You will end up with really nice seem bland, stylish looking portraits. 2. Construction Of The Head: Okay, so when we want to construct the head, we will always start with drawing a circle. Don't worry about drawing a perfect circle. It is not what this is about. Next, we need to cut the size of the circle because if you look at the school, it's not a perfect circle but a squashed bowl. And then we attach the chin because the school is made out of tube bards, the brainy part and a Joe. That's how you should start your construction. That's what you should consider when you're drawing the head. And we have the head from reframed. Now let's do head from the side, need draw circle again, we can see more of a 3D form as the face is turning. Now we need to cut the sides again as we did with the front view. Now let's divide a circle in half. We can attach the chain which is approximately in the half or more than a half of the circle. The circle starts right here where the eyebrow and isoquant finishes. It divides the phase in genocide play and the front plane. So the size of the circle is always according to the angle of how the face is turning. What also helps is to think about the head as a rectangle. This part is the site binomial phase. Let me show you the profile now. Let's start with the circle again. Now, the cut Bard is gonna move to the middle and the small circle is approximately two thirds of the big circle. So now you can attach the chin again, it's going to be somewhere in the middle of the circle. I will now show you how to place the features. In general, the face is made out of three thirds. To find the first third, we can find in here where we cut off the head. That's the nose line, then the hairline is on the other part of the gut circle. And then in the middle is going to be the eyebrow line. So now it makes three shirts, mind you it's not always going to be perfectly equal as we are all different. So you always need to measure this. The eyes out in the middle of the head. And now we have another two equal measurements. Now we find a middle line. The first thing that is very important that we can find is the relationship between the eyebrows, nose, and ears. As the phase is not always going to be in front view, it is good to measure this relationship by drawing a line. However, I will show you this later in more detail. Now you need to know that the ears are lined up with the nose and the eyebrows. Now we can add the nose. From the nose. We can drop to lines and find the eyes as they are the same size as the nose usually. And then of course between the two eyes is the nose and I size as well. And now we can find the eyebrow by dropping a line from the eyes to the start of the eyebrows. The eyebrows usually start a bit earlier than the eyes. It divides into two parts and then goes back to the eye like this. And you actually form an isoquant here. See you can always measure and help yourself in this connecting lines. We can find the mouth by dropping a line from the eyes. The line usually starts not in the middle of the eye, but a bit earlier. You can always measure this line in your reference dough. You can also drop a line from nose like this. Then we can draw a line from the center and find the other planes. And this thing here is kind of volume of this part. It's not flat as you can see here. And also the cheekbones are very important. You can drop a line from the ears and go down to the chin like this. We can also extend the mouth line to find the part under the ellipse like this. So this is how you can go about finding and measuring the features in the front view from this side, let's draw a line down here to find the nose line. And in the middle of this circle is the brow line, now the forehead line. And also these lines are always parallel to each other. Then we find the central line of the head. Let's draw the ear. So always watch these lines. The IRR is in the right bottom part of the circle. So now as the face is turning, we had the perspective in play and the features will be a different size of course. So as this part is going away from us, it's going to be smaller and hidden behind the nose exedra. So it's important to kind of pay attention to that. So now we have the nose, the left part is going to be smaller now. Then we can measure the angles and find the eyes. The right size is usually still straits and New Left size is now a different angle. If you're not sure, you can always measure these angles from your reference. Now the eyes in the middle of the head find the eyebrows as well. The right eye is still the same size as the nodes, usually approximately, I would say this is now going to be a bit smaller. And the eye as well. And the eye socket is not finishing here because that is just the eye. It's going all the way down. So it's also very good to consider that. Now we can find the mouth by dropping a line from the eyes and measure the angle. Or we can also find the volume of the Jew like this and then drop a line again from the middle of the nose and find the planes. Don't forget to consider the perspective and Migdal left part smaller. Then you can find the cheekbones dropping down from the ear to the chin. Now, as v hadn't days divided, we can now see clearly the side of the head as it is also divided by the cheekbones as well as by the end of the eyebrow. So to not complicate this, the only thing you need to do is find these connecting lines and measure those according to the reference. Well, okay, I admit that this photo reference with these lines looks super confusing and complicated, but it is really not. Trust me, I will show you in the examples that we will do later on. Now we have the profile, so we will again divide the cutoff circle into three shirts. Now we draw the nodes. Then a find the field term right here. Then you can find the size of the nose and drop a line again to find the eye. Let's find the isoquant now. We can also drop the line to find a mouth like this. And then the chin. Okay, this angle is not quite correct, so we can measure it by dropping this line. Now this is better, the ear here and the cheekbone. Now, I will demonstrate how we can do heads from different angles to make it clear for you. So let's actually find a reference. This girl is looking a bit down now, so her head is kind of tilted like this. So you find a circle somewhere here. You have to imagine this kind of silt. So as she's looking down, we need to draw a line pointing down like this, and then we need to measure the other line. You can also think about this as a ball with a rubber band wrapping around it. You have to imagine it as a 3D form. So if the head would be looking up, it would be like this. Can you see the difference now? So this is looking like a ball that is going up. If I draw the animation lines like this, this is going dubbed direction and this is going this direction, if you can see it. And these rubber bands are actually the third wrapping around the head. So this is now the nose always parallel. Let me draw a central line and attach the chin. And now the chin is smaller because of the perspective. And then we can draw a line from here to find the headline. And all these lines are parallel. Remember dat. So always measure and compare the angles of the side plane of the head and the front plane of the head. Always find the relationship between the airlines and the brow and Juno's. Now, let's see the head that is looking up, so it's tilting my dot. Now we have an illusion that the head is facing duct direction. So let's start in the middle of the circle, a line going up as the face is looking up. And this line from the front head is this kind of angle. It's always good to measure this. Let's now up the other lines. Now the thirds are approximately the same size. Now again, let me show you the ball. If I draw the rubber band as the third lines, you can now see how we create the illusion of the head looking up. So again, if you measure the angle from the side of the head and the front of the head. You can never go wrong with this. Now, we had this kind of Cl2 right here. So can you see how these deadlines are? See it now in this circle, it would be like this. Don't be too scared to be accurate and don't try to copy the reference too much when doing these exercises. The whole point of this is to know how to help is constructed and that it is made out of parts. And also you should be able to imagine it as a 3D form. Ideally, what I would recommend you to do is study further from the masters like Andrew Lou Miss and protocol. I will link them down below. I have also studied from them and found many more artists that are explaining these methods. I would not recommend you to follow just one artist, but study from many more. 3. Sketching Portrait Front View: When he had the construction a little bit. On the other hand, I will demonstrate how to sketch a phase from the front. I'm starting with a circle, then finding a central line and attaching a chin. I am observing the reference and noticing the shape over school. Then I am measuring the thirds. She is looking a bit down, so the nose, the chin is a bit smaller in this case, notice the net curvature. You don't need to draw the neck in that much detail. But what is important to study is the relationship of the head and the neck. Sometimes I'm choosing a photo reference where this relationship has a very nice curves and is attractive as I found the first two-thirds, I am now seeing the relationship with the ears and measuring the angles at this stage, don't be afraid to draw the helping lines. We will erase them later on. I also enjoyed a nose and observe the Blaine's a surplus. I am now starting to define the ISO kids and observing the shapes of the browse. The eyebrows are made out of two and they are connected to the iss by these lines. I have also found the position of the eyes by dropping to angle lines from the nose. This is a front view, so they are usually line up equally to do nose. As you can see, I am constantly drawing these helping in connecting lines to make it easier to line everything up correctly as the face is, after all, a very symmetrical thing. I am also measuring the ice according to Gino's to make sure they are the right size as the nose and the I are usually the same size. And this is correct 12 from view, at least know that the eyes are made out of three planes on top and two planes onto boats up. Now I drop the line from the eyes to find where the mouth is. You can use circles to construct the lips. They unmade with three planes at the top. So you can draw two liters circles for the heart-shaped pruned upper lip plane, and then choose circles on the side. Then we have the three planes at the bottom lip as well. So three circles there. Then you just connect those circles with a line. Now, I define the nose a little bit. A great way to understand this study didn't know explains, however, you can see here how the lines are connecting or you can also observe the shadow shapes. I have finished sketching ears and trying to refine the lines. I am constantly observing the reference and changing things around. Again, don't get too caught up on copying the reference. This is just the sketching process, and this will also help you to find your style. Your main goal you should be focusing on is the correctness of the proportions. And overall, it should look like a functioning phase. Now, I'm attaching the hare, which is kind of worked up on the head. And also I have to think about that the head is looking down and I have the apprehend visible here. That is something I haven't done when I started the construction. So I need to consider that as well. Try to only observed the largest sections and masses of the hair first. Now when we have everything measured, we can take a medium will eraser enlightened, erase the lines, but we need to still see it embedded so we can draw over it. Now we can start drawing overrated, grittier lines. And while on this process, we can still notice some things that are not correct and change them up. Also note that I'm using straight lines when measuring, using straight lines instead of curved lines is generally better and everything is made out of planes. Even a curved wall is made out of blend deleted tiny Blaine's. Using straight lines will be much better accuracy when sketching and measuring. What am I doing now is separating the shadow and light. It is totally up to you how you'd get to Mindy is, but it always helps to Blondie stage up. As this is just a non-default sketch, I would recommend only separate the dark and light values here to give it a bit of contrast, use only simple shapes when doing this. Also, the shadow shapes can help you measure a great deal. This photograph, he has got older shadows on the right side here. So it is always helpful to find a reference where you can see the shadows really well. This makes it easy for us to separate them. So this is how I made a separation in this reference, triangle on her cheek is part of the shadow group. However, I decided to include it into the light group to make it more interesting. Now, I'm starting to fill out this shadow areas. I am using only an HB pencil as I don't want to trouble myself with more advanced values in these known detailed sketches. If you're not sure how to separate the shadows and lights, I would recommend just popping your reference into Photoshop like I did. And take transparent brush and draw over the shadows as an exercise. Generally delights and meet those out into the light area and deploy shadows, shadows, reflected lights, and shadows into shadow area. So the core shadow is usually lead a shadow line ease and separates two object into shadows and lights. When I'm done filling out, you can play around a little bit and enhance the lines. Go ahead and enhance the eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, exedra. Notice how you can use lines to make the Meteor, for example, enhance the transitions between the head and neck. Gave it almost a cartoonish look. In this case. You can now darken up some of the darker shadows at this stage. Also clean and polish up the shadows. A reminder again, do not try to copy the reference, but analyze it. Make sure your face looks like phase. Make sure you have all the features lined up correctly. Use helping lines in measuring and remember that all the features are connected. Like you draw a line here to connect the nose with the eye socket. The filtering with knows the neck and the head exedra do not try to draw the features too much separately. I started defining the hair a little bit to give it a headlight texture. You can even add some fly overhead. I even pushed and enhance the core shadows, those edges with the darkest values. I'm just going over the lines and the shadows playing around and polishing up the portrait to go of the final state should be making your shadows as clean as possible, making all the lines feel pretty and complete. 4. Sketching Portrait Side View: So I'm starting with this circle again and touching the chin. Dan, measuring and drawing in the dirt. I have noticed that the chin to know stirred is a bit smaller as the subject is looking down. In this case, when I have the deserts established, I am drawing in the angles of the frontline of the head. Then I am drawing in the nose by using circles. Let me demonstrate a little bit about the features right here. When drawing features, I like using simple circles to indicate the form. So for example, with the nose, I used three circles that I connect them with the nostrils. You can use this method to draw the nodes from any perspective, just drawing the circles according to the sizes of the tip and doings. Well, as the head can be broken down like volume, you can do the same thing with all the features. If you think about it as simple objects and masses of volumes which have sent their lines and are in a certain direction, the drawing will get much easier for you. And the same thing applies to lips and eyes. So as I drew this, the islets are wrapping around the eyeball. You can easily draw these axis line, so determine where the person is looking and draw an iris. Very Croesus is the same thing as we did with the head bowl. If t i is going to look up, you will draw these lines like this. I'm just going to show this to my head. And the same thing with the lips. I can draw a circle again to help you imagine it. This is how you can approach every single object. If you look at this cool, there's this ball. That's why the lips are in a volume as well. Then we, these two centre lines, you can also draw the ellipse from any angle. You simple circles as planes and then you can just connect it. Just learn to draw using simple shapes at first, don't overcomplicate things too much. Then you can build up from it later on. So you don't always have to draw these circles and these central lines. You can only imagine them, but just do whatever will help you to make your drawing's better. So denom going to connect the nodes. We need lines up to the isoquant and also find the I align. Now I'm finding the I by dropping a line from Minos and measuring the sizes. So the left eye from our side is the same size as the nose as I found out. Also the I on the right is going to be smaller because of the perspective. Don't forget to find these angle lines to find out where it lays. Now I am finding the filter them and observing how it go next student knows and dropping a line from Deir. I'm connecting the field term. I also drew a line from D i to find out approximately where the mouth is. I constantly keep refining measurements. Now I found out I've done the measuring and replacing. I'm helping myself interconnecting lines from the eyebrows, the picket lines, CDs first sketching phase is really about redrawing and we're measuring everything. It's a trial and error. Now observing the cheekbone and completing the chin NGO. I'm connecting the neck to do heads. Now I'm drawing in the hair just very simply using simple straight lines, not complicating it. I'm taking the sizes of the thirds to help me in that domain where the hair is approximately, you can take any measurement comfortable to you and help you sell finding other points. Also when drawing hair, notice how music flicking lines to indicate gesture. If you want, press on your pencil too hard, your hair will end up more realistic and elegant looking. I also made the first circle that indicates the size of the head to small. Therefore, I now have to think about it when I'm wrapping the hair around it. I must also think that the Harris fluffed and are not going to be the same size as the head, but even bigger. Okay, now, erasing the rough lines and redrawing them more beautifully. You can also notice some minor details and still change things up with this step. And also looking at things in more detail and try to section the hair a little bit. There is something I am trying to draw it as I'm taking the angles here so I can be sure that it's going to be correct. Now I'm separating the light and shadows, still using an HB pencil as this is not going to be very much detailed portraits. As you could see there. I tried to complicate the shadow shape too much and ended up changing it and just drawing. It's simpler. It is graded, you draw them more complicated in more realistic detailed portraits. However, in these sketches, you would be better off if you simplify them as much as you can. Dan, let's fill them out. I'm also pushing high around the features to make it. I have decided not to fill out all the hair will just play around with it and only use a little gradient as I feel it would be too heavy fulfilled out the hair all with a shadow. When you're filling out the shadows, try doing it as smooth as possible as we are trying to avoid smudging in these non-disabled sketches to practice online homework a little bit. I'm noticing some crazy lines which need enhancing and playing around with data. As I said before, doing these sketches, you kind of come up with your ideas in style. You can focus on defining the form only by shadows, as would more realistic portrait art is due. Or you can combine lines and values as well like this. You can also try to see interesting elements of this sketch and trying to enhance it as well. I like the hair on the right side, so I kind of play around with that. I'm now cleaning up the shadows and playing around the line some more. You can just blew down under IAS more than in others. I'm having fun in the stage as o to hard work of measuring was done before. I'm also making some of the shadows that occur for a sketchbook. I'm changing a little bit more as I know, this isn't it. Then I'm polishing up the drawing by erasing any unnecessary smudges and dirty marks. And we are about done. I think there's something beautiful about the simplicity of these sketches. Sometimes it is good to just drop it a little bit fewer details. Otherwise you can get lost in it, especially if you're a beginner. This simplistic approach will also help you not to get overwhelmed. And then later on when you feel more confident, you can start adding in more and more details. However, I absolutely love it gets symbol like this. 5. Gesture: Now we have the gesture. So you will have only something from 30 seconds to one minute for each portrait. You don't need to draw on the features if you don't want to, just focus on the angles of the head and the lines. This exercise will redo of thinking too much about your portrait and just gets you drawing because you know how they say the more you think, the more you stink. And also you will get the movement under your hand and develop amazing flexibility with your hand. As I said before, you can start with just doing the head construction, joined the circles at agitate chin is sketch out the angles of the head, the central line, even the thirds. And then you can move on to the head with the features. And then you may leave out some of the construction lines when you have deconstructing quite say it in your head. This is also a space for your creativity to develop. You can, for example, choose your own lines, exedra, just follow your instincts for the references. Just use Pinterest or there are sites where you can add in time and it will show you faces in that intervals. I will link them in O and the most important part, fling the lines, loosen up your hand and let it down on the paper. 6. Quick Small Heads: I recommend doing this exercise as integral help you to get more faster and flexible. You will draw little heads. Just set a timer for something about three till ten minutes for each head and go. The goal of this exercise is to make your hand more flexible. And it also reminds you of excessive thinking. Do not think about the measurements too much at this point either. The point of this exercise is not to get their likeness perfectly. You might even have the proportions of at the beginning. Just focus on completing the head in a short amount of time and try to draw it proportionately accurate as much as possible. Completely leave out the details at this point, you would be surprised how faster, better, more accurate you will get overtime when you practice this, just sketch the phase with the techniques we used before and separate the shadows whom light, and do it fast and small. That's it. It is also a great warm up exercise. 7. Conclusion and Class Project: It is totally up to you whether you choose to do two more detailed sketching. First to completely focus on measuring and the proportion. Or if you choose to start with the quicker exercises, do what feels more comfortable to you. In this class project. Use all that you've learned to construct your heads and faces. Don't worry about the details that much and just focus on constructing something that looks like a proportional head. And don't worry too much on getting their subject likeness, especially if you're a complete beginner, just measured in proportions correctly. I would love to see our gesturing quick heads as well. Good luck and happy Drawing.