Portrait Drawing for Beginners | Tamas Benko | Skillshare

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Portrait Drawing for Beginners

teacher avatar Tamas Benko, Drawing

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (1h 51m)
    • 1. What's in this Class?

    • 2. Preparation

    • 3. Analyze the Reference Photo

    • 4. Draw the Head Structure - Part 1

    • 5. Draw the Head Structure - Part 2

    • 6. Bonus Tip: How to Draw in Different Size

    • 7. Portrait Drawing - Part 1

    • 8. Portrait Drawing - Part 2

    • 9. Portrait Drawing - Part 3

    • 10. Portrait Drawing - Part 4

    • 11. What's Next?

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About This Class

In this beginner portrait drawing class you can learn the fundamentals of portrait drawing with pencil. Even if you draw like a 4-year old kid now, the goal is to change it by the end of this class. I'll show you step by step what you need to do. During this project we'll be drawing a portrait based on a reference photo.

Duration: 2-3 hours to complete

No previous drawing knowledge is necessary.
This drawing class is for Beginners.

Minimum tool requirements:

  • a pencil
  • an eraser
  • some copy papers

Or you can use any digital drawing tools if you have. I'll be using the popular Procreate app on the iPad with the Apple Pencil. A drawing tablet with Photoshop is also a good option.

Class content

  • Analyze the reference photo and find important landmarks on the face
  • Prepare a line drawing or a sketch about our subject
  • Start shading the portrait and draw the facial features in detail
  • Scan the whole photo and make the final touches on the portrait

If you'd like to learn portrait drawing basics, come, draw with me! It'll be a relaxing activity which will also develop your brain, hand coordination and drawing skills.

Take this class now!

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Tamas Benko



I love to teach new skills to students, so I'd like to see you in my class!
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1. What's in this Class?: In this portrait drawing 101 class, you will learn how to draw a realistic portrait using a reference photo. No previous drawing knowledge is necessary. By the end of this project, which will take 23 hours to complete. You will know the basic principles of portrait drawing. Welcome. If you are interested in drawing human portraits, but you never believed you are able to make one. This beginner classes for you. My name is Thomas. In this project, my goal is to help you to overcome your initial barriers and greatly develop your drawing skills in a very short time. To learn the basics, there is no need for expensive drawing tools. All you need is a copy paper, pencil and eraser, plus excitement to draw. However, I'll be using the popular drawing and painting gap procreate on the iPad with the Apple Pencil to show you some of the benefits that digital tools provide. But you can really follow along with the simple graphite pencil. This class is focusing on portrait drawing fundamentals and not on drawing tools or different drawing techniques. I'd rather like to teach you the concept of portrait drawing and not something specific to a certain technique. The project will look like this. First, we are going to analyze a reference photo and established key landmarks on the face. Has a second step. We'll prepare a line drawing which will be proportionally accurate. Then we start shading our portrait and formed the details of the facial features. This will be the end result. I'll be drawing in real-time and trying not to hurry. I hope you can follow along easily in case you fall behind. Feel free to pause the video and catch up. There is nothing wrong with that. Take as much time as you need with your drawing. Precision is more important here. Speed will come with practice. I hope you are excited and ready to learn portrait drawing. See you in the next video. 2. Preparation: Alright, we'll be drawing this curve. I've chosen her because she has a nice symmetrical round face. She's in three-quarter view on the photo so we can practice the facial features in perspective. Also noticed that light and shadows create interesting shapes on her head. By the way, when you practice, I suggest you to convert your reference photos to grayscale image so colors do not distract you. It's easier to see lights and shadows which play an important part in the quality of your portrait. You can find this photo in resources has a JPEG file. If you draw with traditional tools, find the portrait drawing worksheet PDF, and print out two copies of death. For the sake of simplicity, we will be drawing in one to one ratio. That's why I created the framing the worksheet with the same size as the photo. If you draw on a digital tool, here's what you need to do. I tap on the layers button. I add a new layer with displays button. I draw a rectangle around the photo. At the end, I hold down the pencil on the screen for a sec to code a quick shaped feature of procreate. I tap on Edit Shape. I choose rectangle, so my hand drawing becomes normal rectangle. I drag and drop the corner nodes to feed the corners of the photo. I tap on the transform button to commit. I tap on the Transform tool again, and mood frame to the right. I tap on this layer two and choosed mask in the menu. I tap on layer two to select it. I swipe down with three fingers the code floating menu. I tap on copy. I select the mask layer. Three fingers five down and hit paste. Now I have the frame copied to the mask layer. With the mask layer selected. I drop this black color outside the frame, the feeling that area. Now I have a mask like this on layer two, black hides and wide areas. I select layer two and start drawing. As you can see, strokes outside the frame will be hidden by the mask. Unfortunately, with traditional drawing tools, you don't have this privilege. You need to use the eraser. If you go outside the frame. I tap with two fingers to undo. All right, in the next lesson, we are going to analyze our reference photo. 3. Analyze the Reference Photo: In this lesson, we are going to draw the structural lines of the head. We'll be measuring distances and observe curve angles. This phase is crucial to get realistic portrait drawing at the end. This lesson is mainly about realizing proportions and copy them accurately. I create a new temporary layer and drag and drop it here. Let's not forget to name our main drawing layer. Ok, let's go back to this temporary layer for I don't want to mess up the photo layer, so I use this temporary one. I go to the sketching bras set and said The 6B pencil brush. Let me set a red color for my pencil. As a first step, we are going to analyze a reference photo. We'll be marking the important structural levels and crossings on this head. Let's draw the eyebrow line. Here are the bottom of the nose, the top of the upper lip, the bottom of the lower lip, and bottom of the chin. Now let's draw the center line of the face. Notice that it slightly tilted from the vertical are marking the corners of the frame and the sides because we will measure distances from these. Now a marking the key points on the count to line of the face. I'm looking for points where the curve changes direction. Let's do this on the other side too. Let's mark the key points of the eyes. And the eyebrows. I'm looking for dominant shadow shapes. There is some here next to the eye, on the nose to nose and on the cheek. Now, let's mom the corners of the mouth and the curve of the upper limb. Look how this line running through the phase separating light from Doc. I'm also mocking the contour of this big shadow on the hair. These black shapes will help us to draw the contour line of the phase properly. All right, I guess we have enough reference points. You don't have to do this all the time when you start the portrayed with, I think it's useful if you are a beginner. 4. Draw the Head Structure - Part 1: Now we can start creating our line drawing on the right. I said the color of my pencil to black and select the drawing layer. The reason we use the same size of frame on the right is that in this way, we can use simple measurement technique to create a proportionally right structure of this phase. I'm using my pencil and my farm to copy distances. Note that I'm looking at my drawing from a different angle as the camera. So my thump may seem upset, but I hope you get the idea how to copy distances. Sometimes I just use that separation at the tip of my pencil and my eyes to copy small distances like this top-left corner. Let's find the eyebrow level. The reason we use this technique is that the portrayed can be just as good or bad as your proportions. If you don't place the facial features at the right spots, your drawing will reflect a different phase or inverse case acquired we're looking figure. With practice, you can skip this exhaustive step because once your eyes and brain are trained properly, you will know where to put the features with no measurement. Now, I'm placing the center line. It's a good practice to start your portrait with this crossing. Tried to use lose light strokes because this line drawing, where you just serve as a guide for the rest of our drawing. We don't want them to be seen by the end. This is the distance of the eyebrow from the side. I'm trying to observe and copy the angle of this contour line. This is where the corner of the eye is located. Here's the cheekbone. I'm also checking the vertical position of this term on the photo. You always need to check the both horizontal and vertical positions are correct. Let's mark the bottom of the face. Now, we have the contour on the right. Let's form the one on the left. Checking the angle. Let's find the line. The left side. Let's find the position of the eye. Let's find the vertical position. I'm doing some cross checking to see if the mouth Jim, distance is correct. Marking decide of the nose. And let's draw the shadow shape to I'm not sure it is right? Let me erase it and take a different approach. You are fine with yours. That's good to leave it. There are marking the corner of the mouth which will have to locate the side of the nose. Look at this vertical line, the corner of the mouth, the side of the nose, and the corner of the eyebrow are on almost the same line. This is also a good practice to find these invisible lines that create connections between different features on the face. Now let's draw the form of the lips. Try to forget that this is a phase and it has its facial features. Try not to see the eyes, the nose, the mouth. Tried to see only geometrical shapes, orientations and angles. Take the lines of the frame as references and define the angles and orientations compared to those vertical and horizontal lines. The mouth, which is like this. Now let's find the small shadow shape, which will mark the side of the nose soon. But let me go to the other eyebrow First. Is the right order with the features to follow. You might ask, actually, there is not a question of personal preference. The point is that the end result be proper. You see, I found that the same vertical line on this side as well. Now let's find the position of the islets. I'm drawing the eye level. Now we have enough reference points on our drawing so we can place the corner of the eye easily just by looking at it. In case of the inner corner, I'm checking the distance from the eyebrow and the nose. For the other corner, it will be the distance from the contour line of the face. It seems that the eyebrow and the upper lead are too close together. Let's fix that. Okay, let's find the other eye. There is a technique I often see in tutorials. The instructor creates a detailed grid on the photo and the same grid on the blank paper. We dead technique. You can copy landmarks pretty accurately. But my problem is it just creates the illusion of a drawing skill. It doesn't help you to improve that. The measurement that I'm using with depends still is an interim solution. It helps you to be accurate so you gain confidence, but it also develops your drawing skills because you have to use your eyes to, once you practice enough, you won't need that measurement. You will just use your eyes and your line drawing will be just as good as with this technique. I found another nice curve here to form the upper, ideally Dr. checking this negative space between d i and d i. This is a good example. We derived positioning. I'm doing some cross checking with the length of the nose because it doesn't seem right? Yes. The nose is off position. We need to move that and the mouth down a bit. Amusing the free hand selection to select this part. And the transform to relocate. Unfortunately, if you are drawing the traditional tools, you will need to use the eraser and draw again. And it seems that we don't need to bring the chin lower. That's good. All right, let's take a short break and continue drawing the line structure in the next video. 5. Draw the Head Structure - Part 2: Let's continue drawing the structural lines. Now, I'm following this radical current running through different features. I'm checking the angle in each bar. Eyebrow is, let's fix that. And my feeling is that the nodes here is not perfect. Let me fix that too. Changing the curve of the Joe. Let's finish the mile. Now let's deal with the copy every single strand. We just try to illustrate what I'm looking at, the shape. And that's what I tried to copy. Now let's draw these big shadow here. Now let's draw the eyes. Again. Here. This is a negative space. So when I'm forming the curve of the iris, I'm not trying to draw a circle Hammurabi checking the shape of the grey area on the photo. We will work on the eyes in more detail soon. Let's form the north. On the nose. We are basically finished with the construction lines so far. We have a solid foundation to step foot. 6. Bonus Tip: How to Draw in Different Size: You might have a question. What if you want to draw in a different format as your reference photo, or what if you draw from life? This construction method with all these measurements obviously won't work. What to do, then there is a solution. Our job is a bit more difficult, but it's possible. Let's say I'd like to draw this lady in a smaller format. What do we need to do is define the Bayesian it on our photon. It can be the van on eyebrow nose distance. Then we started drawing with this base unit. We try to place it properly both vertically and horizontally, and of course, in the right angle. Now, if we want to draw the eyebrow proportionally, right, for example, then we need to check its length on the photo compared to our base in it, it's roughly two-thirds of our base unit. So we go to our drawing and measure that length using the eyebrow nose distance there. You can choose whatever Bayesian it you want on your photo. It can be the width of the mouth too. In this case, we start or drawing with the mouth and we measure everything as compared to debt. If you're drawing format differs only insights from your reference and it is proportionally the same, meaning that its width, height ratio is the same. Then you can also use the frame of your photo to position certain elements on your drawing. For example, I'm checking where the gene is located horizontally. It seems that it's a little bit shifted horizontally from the middle to the right. So it will be somewhere here on our drawing. Now let's find the contour line of the face. How to draw that in the right angle on the photo, you can check its angle compared to the horizontal. It seems that it is more than 45 degrees, something like 60. Based on this, we can draw this 60-degree angle on our drawing with no problem. This technique requires more practice to get proper results. You need to pay special attention to the proportion of the features compared to each other. You also need to be more careful with the angles and distances on the drawing. Now what if you draw from life and the ER model is sitting in front of you, you choose base unit on the face, just as you did on the photo. You take your pencil and stretch your hand in front of you. You imagine virtual frame there and you measure the length of the base unit of fingers and pencil, just as it would be a photo front of you. And do this measurement and comparison with the other features on the face as needed. I hope this makes sense. All right, let's continue our portrait drawing in the next video. 7. Portrait Drawing - Part 1: So we have the line drawing ready. It's time to step into the next phase. I'm hiding this layer with direct construction lines in order to see our subject clearly. If you draw the traditional way, please take your other print work with. Let's hold on for a moment. As the sketching phase of our drawing is done, we have a solid foundation for the next phase, which is called rendering or shading. Now slowly, but surely, we are going to feel our drawing with life. Shading is about separating bright and dark parts, or in other words, light and shadow on the picture. We are analyzing our photo and first, we are looking for the darkest areas. The eyebrow is one of them. We are not shading as hard as we can. We are just using a fairly dark tone for these parts. Later, we can come back as needed and make them darker. In the meantime, we are also trying to refine the shapes on the face. A solid structure is one thing, but the tiny details are also important to give back our subject realistically. And so I'm continuously watching the photo and trying to form those contour lines on my drawing. In this case the eyebrow on the right. I'm using the eraser as well if needed. Let's form the I now, I'm trying to copy every little detail. Don't worry too much about the bribe bots. We will add them later. Now we are dealing with the dogs. I'm deleting unnecessary center line and what's left from the eyebrow line. Let's form the other eye to watch the curve and the angle of the shadow shape below the eyebrow. This slide is important on the upper, I am trying to create its form as precisely as I can. Now let's observe below the eye. Let's take a short break and continue in the next lesson. See you in the next video. 8. Portrait Drawing - Part 2: As a next step, we are going to use the eraser and start working on the details of the eyes. Now let's add these reflections to the eyeball. These are super important parts tried to be as accurate as you can. If you are using traditional drawing tools, you can create these tiny highlights with a wide Japan. For more informed is check the drawing tools unique pdf in the resources section. Remember that the eye is a bowl shape. Watch the reflections on the left and the right belong together. They create a curve on the surface of the eyeball. Those tiny details that make your drawing more realistic. Now let's define the other eye. There is no need to make things final. You can always come back to a certain BAD later and continue. Now, I'm going to draw these totally black areas on the hair. I speed this up because there is not much to discuss here. I'm just watching the forms of these dark areas on the photo and trying to create them on the drawing. It's beautiful. Let's add some more details. Now. This part is pretty dark, but not totally black. Tried to apply some gradients. As I'm shading, notice that my band sealed tries to follow the direction or the current of the surface. This is the direction of your band, must support the curves of the forms on the face. I'm drawing the shadow next to denials. Remember, this is a negative space. Nicely formed a curve of the size of the nose. Let's do the shadow between the nose and the mouth. And let's continue the shadow on the cheek and the nose. Let's add some gradients to the sharp line on the nose. Let's make the shadow below the eye. Let's go back to the cheek. This is an interesting shape. As I'm gently shading, I'm trying to feel its form and reproduce that. Look how the shapes connect the facial features to each other. High lag to draw these connections. Now let's form the corners of the mouth are extremely important. Watch these bonds play a huge role in the expression that the face we will finally show. The slide change here can modify the whole look of the face. This is a really beautiful mouth. I like to draw this. I'm switching back and forth. I come to this side. In the meantime, I'm using the slide pot to become real, doesn't it? Let's get back. Let's define this curve. The shape of the eyebrow. Let's take the next video. 9. Portrait Drawing - Part 3: Now I'm scanning the whole photo and making adjustments as needed. Let me erase this line and create the form of the JO by shading the things up here. Let's get back to the face and add additional details here and there. I'm checking if a certain area has derived on compared to the others. Let's add some further details to the hair. There was a construction line left here. Let's delete it and you draw a realistic board. You want to eliminate these kind of lines. Features need to be formed by shading or changing intones, sharp lines which deflect sudden form changes are rare on a face. I think we are ready to start making the highlights. So I'm choosing q right, to draw with. If you are drawing the traditional tools, try to use your eraser to reveal the light parts. If you have a standard brick shape eraser, you can use a knife to cut a triangular shape at one side. This way, you can erase pretty small areas on your drawing. However, the best tool is an electric eraser for this purpose. So I'm looking for the brightest parts now on the photo and trying to reflect them on my drawing. I'm going over this highlights on the eyes. If you are drawing with traditional tools, it is best to use write G open to mark these highlights. Now I'm going to put dots on the eyelashes. You might want to highlight because too much use of them can mess up your drawing. Let's work on the mouth a little bit more. I'm switching back and forth. Tone changes on the leaves and trying to reflect them. Let's add these timing. Hi. I'm spending more time because it has plenty of details and because it's an important feature on the face, I like to make it as accurate as possible. All right. Let's take allows break. We are almost done. 10. Portrait Drawing - Part 4: Let's work a little bit more on the lower eyelids using wide to brighten some areas. Alternatively, I could also use the eraser. And it's time to draw the eyelashes. Let's fix this sharp line on the eyebrow. I'm drawing the eyelashes. Let's add some highlights. Let's draw this. On the other side. And I'm making some slide touches here and there. I'm scanning the whole photo. Okay, I consider my drawing finished. Let's hide our reference photo and see how my drawing. I hope you have also created something great. You are satisfied. You may realize some issues on your drawing, but that's okay. As you draw some more portraits, you will definitely improve. And you choose a reference photo. You may want to convert it into grayscale or especially look for monochrome photos. Colors make your perception more complex. We don't need them. At this stage of learning. You can distinguish the dark and light paths on a gray scale image more easily. When you are doing the shading, observe your subject. Which part is the darkest, which part is the brightest? At the end of your work, you always want to ask yourself this question and make amendments as needed. The more you practice, the more drawings your brain we store in its visual library. As your visual library grows, your drawings will become better and better. 11. What's Next?: Congratulations, I'm proud of you. The fact that you got to the end of this extensive class tells me that you have the perfect attitude to develop yourself in drawing and you have the potential to create great artworks in the future. I hope you enjoyed this portrait drawing session and gained confidence to draw. I'd really like to see what you have learned. I'd like to ask you to choose a photo of a person you like. He or she can be a family member, an actor or actress, singer, or anyone goes through the steps you just learned and draw portrayed. Please can portray to any finished and upload in a jpeg format. I'm very curious. Now what's next? Now, obviously, this class didn't teach you everything. This was just a very first step. My goal was to teach you the fundamentals. Hopefully you believe now that you can learn to draw, there are lots of portrait drawing techniques exist. I encourage you to try out as many as you can, choose the methods that work best for you. Finally, I'd like to ask you to give feedback and send your rating on this class. If you're managed to develop your drawing scarce and had a good time, I'd appreciate if you'll let me know. Thank you. If you like my teaching style, press the Follow button and check my other classes too. I wish you the best. Goodbye.