Simple Realistic Drawing For Beginners | Nadia Dias T. | Skillshare

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Simple Realistic Drawing For Beginners

teacher avatar Nadia Dias T., Realistic Drawing Artist

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Grid Technique


    • 5.

      Light, Shadow and Dark Values


    • 6.

      Layers and Graphite Blending


    • 7.

      Eyebrows and Hair


    • 8.

      Cover Large Areas


    • 9.

      Details and Finishing Touches


    • 10.

      Recap and Conclusion


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About This Class

Have you ever wondered how artists could draw portraits so realistically? And wondered how you could draw like them? If you have, then this is the right class for you!

In this class, you will learn all the basic skills necessary to reproduce realistic images, based on a reference picture that I will provide you with. Throughout this class, you'll learn how to:

  • Use your materials and the effects you can achieve with each one
  • Use the Grid Technique to sketch out your reference. 
  • Read Light, Shadow, and Dark Values in your reference
  • Use Layers and Graphite Blending Techniques to easily reproduce the values in your reference.
  • Add texture and details to make your piece more realistic like drawing eyebrows, hair, and adding highlights.


This class is suitable for beginners and offers a simple workflow for creating realistic illustrations. To demonstrate the process, I'll be drawing a realistic face portrait though the main principles and techniques present in this class can be applied to any form of realistic illustration

Follow each lesson and you will be able to create your first realistic drawing in no time! So let's get started — see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Nadia Dias T.

Realistic Drawing Artist


Hi there!

I'm Nadia and I'm a 30 year old Artist from Portugal. 

I fell in love with drawing at a very young age, my father used to paint in his spare time and I loved to watch him do it. I grew up sorrounded by art, I had the chance to visit several museums and cultural spaces, which made me particullary intrested in portraits.

I went to a Visual Arts school and also have a Photography degree, both studies gave me the chance to explore portraits in many intresting ways. Even though my favourite art expression is Realistic Drawing, I really feel that both my studies complement each other very well. 

I descovered the Realistic Drawing in 2010 and I've been drawing ever since. 

Here you can see a few examples of my work, but fee... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Have you ever wondered how can someone draw something so realistically, and you wish you could draw just like them? If you did, this is the right class for you. I'm sorry, let me introduce myself. I'm Nadia and I'm a Portuguese artist. My passion for drawing has always been with me. Ever since I was a child, I had a huge collection of drawing pencils and I used to get really upset if someone tried to touch them. In 2010, I discovered the realistic drawing style and I fell in love with it. I've been trying ever since and now I know a bunch of tricks that I really wish I knew when I was starting. That's why I decided to create this class. 'Simple, Realistic Drawing for Beginners.' The structure of this class is put in a very simple way so anyone without experience can understand it and actually do it. I'll introduce you to the materials that I personally feel are the best to get started. I will provide you with a reference picture and walk you through the complete process of a realistic drawing from the outline to the final touches. I'm very excited to get started, so let's begin. 2. Class Project: Hi there. Let me introduce you to our class project. Since this class is about the basics of realistic drawing, it shows a very simple picture reference where you will explore dark and light areas. You'll also have the chance to create simple hair and few skin textures, so you can apply these streaks in future drawings you might want to do. I chose a face portrait because beginners usually are afraid to draw faces. I advise you to spare some time to watch each lesson and to put it to practice. You can pause each video and go back anytime. This process takes time and patience, but trust me, it will work. When you finish your portrait, don't forget to show us your beautiful work by publishing it in our class project gallery. I'll be thrilled to see it. Now, go watch the next video and get to know which materials you are going to use. I'll see you there. 3. Materials: Hi, I'm really happy to see you here with me. Now I'm going to talk about the materials and how they work. Let me show you what you will need. The type of paper that I recommend is the Bristol paper. You have a very smooth surface to create your drawings. It is easier to blend the graphite. It doesn't matter the brand as long as it is smooth, the best option is whitish paper. Now we are going to talk about the graphite and I'm going to give you a brief demonstration on the pencils and also the mechanical pencil that you are going to need. You have here a 4H pencil. You will also need a B pencil, a 3B and 8B and here you have your a mechanical pencil with 0.5 4B graphite. Grab a scrap of paper, the same paper that you are going to use to draw. Let's start using the 4H pencil. We're going to create this gradient that will be very helpful for you in the future. Very lightly, start with light pressure on the pencil and then as you go, try to apply a little bit more pressure. When you reach the darkest with that pencil, just switch to another one and try to very lightly do the same shade that you did with the previous pencil and then as you go, try to go a little bit darker, put a little more pressure on your pencil and keep going with your four pencils. Now you have your gradient from your lightest pencil to your darkest one. Now you are going to do a few exercises with your mechanical pencil. As you can see, you can reach very dark values. What I suggest to do is, try to do a few loose lines so you can see how the mechanical pencil works. It's a great exercise to make your lines more fluid, a very helpful trick if you're practicing to draw hair. Now we are going to talk about the sharpeners that you are going to need. Irregular sharpener, just like one of those that you buy to go to school. It works perfectly fine as long as the blade is sharp. You can also use an executor knife, it is a very good way to sharpen your pencils, but if you're not feeling comfortable with that, just use your irregular sharpener. Now, for the blenders, we are going to talk about paper stumps, tissue paper and brushes. We're going to use the paper stump. It does a very smooth blend. It is perfect to blend small details, small transitions or if you have a very sharp lines you can use the paper stump to make those lines a little bit smoother. In this exercise, I'm going to use the tissue paper. Just wrap it around your finger and blend. As you can see it creates these smooth blend, but it removes the graphite a little bit. The tissue paper is perfect for large areas. Now you have two types of brushes, the short brush and the long brush. Make sure the brushes that you're using are flat. With the long brush, just try and see the effect that you're going to get and as you can see, it is a very smooth blend. With a short brush, the type of blend that you are going to achieve is very settle. What this brush does, is it makes the graphite a little bit darker because it makes the graphite go very deep into the paper. If you have details, this brush doesn't blend those details. You can still see them so this is the perfect brush to use when you're creating hair. Now I am going to talk about the erasers. This one is a pencil eraser. They are very similar and you can achieve very small details with them. Just try to create a few spots, make some lines, some dots, you will see how it works. You will also need the kneaded eraser. It's perfect to create smoother details. With the kneaded eraser, you can create a lot of different shapes. Here, I am making a point shape, which is going to be great to create smaller details, but as you can see, they are very much smoother than those that we created with the pencil eraser. You can also make your tip a little bit rounder. If you dab it in the same place, it's going to remove the graphite very gently and create a very smooth effect and a irregular eraser is going to be very helpful in the end to clean the edges. Other useful materials, I suggest you have a large brush like this one. It's going to be very helpful if you want to keep your surface clean without smudging your drawing and you will also need some fixative spray. Makes sure it's suitable for graphites and charcoal. Lastly, don't forget to print your reference. You will work so much better with a reference right next to you. Now that you are more comfortable around your drawing materials, let's jump to our first lesson where I teach you the grid technique. Keep your exercise sheet next to you because it will be very helpful through the process. See you there. 4. Grid Technique: Welcome back. Your first lesson is about drawing the outline with the help of a grid. In this lesson, I am going to teach you how you can create a grid on top of the reference, how you can create the grid on your blank paper, and to trace the outline of your reference. Let's start by creating a grid on top of your printed reference. Try to place your marks every one inch or every two centimeters. Just repeat on the bottom, the process that you did on top. I suggest you try to create a small grid, once you have a more squares, it will be much easier to copy your reference. Will simply connect those dots. Now, what we're going to do, the same thing for the sides. There you have your grid. What you are going to do next is to number each of those squares, every row you write 1, 2, 3, and so on. In every column you are going to do the same thing but with A, B, C, and so on. Now, you are going to create your grid on your blank paper. Do the exact same measurements as you did on your reference. Don't forget to number it. You are ready to start the outline. What I suggest you do first is the overall shape of the face, because once you placed that overall shape, it's going to be so much easier for you to do the details in the face. Choose a section to start. I have chosen this part of the forehead and then counts the squares, make sure it's exactly the same square, and then just start copying the outline. Make sure you are leaving the same spaces. Just look at your reference and do the exact same thing as you see. For the face details, you just have to do the same. Look to your reference, be very careful to see what's inside of each square, and then copy it. There you have it. You're drawing outline. Now that you have your outline, let's start filling those blank spaces. See you on the next lesson. 5. Light, Shadow and Dark Values: Hi there. Now you are going to learn how to read your reference values and you will also apply your first dark shades. In this lesson, I'm going to teach you how you can understand the difference between light and shadow. You are going to mark all dark areas. Lastly place the dark tones with graphite. When I was learning how to draw, I couldn't read the values very well, but I discovered a trick. Do you see this white border in your imprinted reference? Well, that's what I call pure white. What that means is that all of the values that your senior reference are not white, not even the highlights on her cheek or a nose. Another trick to help you read the values is to grab that gradient that you did while watching the materials lesson. Cut the top part of that gradient. Let's say you want to know which pencil to use for her cheek. Place the gradient right below her cheek and compare. In this specific case, her cheek highlight is very similar to the shade I did with my B pencil with lower pressure on the pencil. Test is trick in other different spots of your reference. Now let's mark where are you going to place the darkest areas. Grab your lightest pencil and roughly mark them. Mark where the hair is supposed to go. The eyebrows right next to her nose, and so on. Now, grab your darkest pencil and lights fill all those dark areas. Try to look at your reference and understand that you have a few spots that are pure black. Don't be afraid to draw a huge black spot. That's really how it works. I'll let this part slow to show you how you must place the dark areas. First, grab your 8B pencil and make sure it is sharp. Sharper pencils can create a little bit darker shade. Fill the space, and use your short brush with a little bit of pressure that will make the graphite go very deep into the paper. First start shades applied. Now let's go to the next lesson to start applying lighter shades. See you there. 6. Layers and Graphite Blending: Welcome back. I'm going to talk to you about the importance of layers and blending. Now, you are going to learn how layers work. They are one of the most important concepts within realistic drawings. I'll also teach you how to blend the graphite so it looks smooth. This is very simple to do, but it takes patience. Grab your B pencil and start building. Lightly, fill the forehead space. Since this is a large area, use a tissue paper to blend. Pay attention to the time-lapse, head a layer, and blend. Where you see it's a little bit darker, use a darker pencil and keep blending with a tissue paper. Do you see now how the forehead looks like it has volume? Pretty cool. Repeat this process throughout the entire face, preserving the eyebrows, eyes, and lip areas. Keep in mind that this is a constructive process and patience is your best friend. In your next lesson, you are going to learn how to do hair and eyebrows. See you there. 7. Eyebrows and Hair: Hello there. Hair and the eyebrows.. They look difficult to draw, but you just need to know a few tricks. First, we are going to do the eyebrows. These ones are very simple and do not require much detail. You will learn a few tricks that we'll make during hair, very simple. For the eyebrows, grab your mechanical pencil. If you can find one, you can use your 3B pencil, but it has to be very sharp. Follow the natural direction of hair growth, making each individual hair. When you see an entire section of black in your reference, don't forget to copy that exact same section. Use your short brush to make your eyebrows look smooth without losing the individual hairy details. Now, let's go to the hair. When you look to your reference, you can see that hair has sections. Even looking to our drawing so far, you can easily identify several sections that you already did. Draw a loose lines following the natural flow and natural direction of hair, as you can see here, and darken the edges of those sections. Keep doing that in your entire pair. Now for the hair highlights, I recommend you to focus on the highlights that are more visible. Now grab your pencil eraser as sharp as you can and create loose lengths. It will gently erase thin lines and they will look just like highlights. With the help of a paper stump, blend gently the edges of those highlights you created, so the transitions look smooth and realistic. Apply these tricks where you see highlights in the hair. Follow the flow and direction of hair, as simple as that. In the next lesson, your draw is going to look way more complete. Let's jump right into it. 8. Cover Large Areas: Welcome back. If you're feeling that you are drawing is looking a little bit empty, that will be no longer an issue. Because in this lesson, I am going to teach you how to cover that background. For this lesson, you are going to cover the background, which is a dark large area. But you are also going to cover a large lighter area, which is our sweater. They work in a very similar way. To begin filling background, I suggest you mark the edges. Once you've done that, grab your darkest pencil, sharpen it, and let's begin. System background is lighter than the black carries of your drawing. Your best option is to work with layers. Try to apply gentle pressure on your pencil. Grab a tissue paper and the blend. Since you are using a tissue paper, you'll see that the graphite fades a little bit. That's okay. Because we want the background to look smooth. Pay attention to the gradient. The background looks darker on top and slightly lighter on the bottom. This is really an observation game. For her sweater, do the exact same thing, but with the lighter pencil. With much less pressure on your pencil. Looking very much complete. But there are a few details missing. We are going to talk about that in the next lesson. See you there. 9. Details and Finishing Touches: Hi, you're almost done. Let's just add a few details that are going to make a huge difference in your drawing. This is the final lesson, and here's where it all starts to look finished. You are going to keep adding layers, adding all the face features details, and final touches. Layers again, this is not new for you right now, but keep adding them as you go. I like to work with this method because I can make sure I'm not going too dark at my first try. Yes, there are other different ways to make this, but I think this is the best way when you're taking your first steps in realism. As you keep adding layers of graphite, keep blending them and don't forget to add more layers on her sweater. Use your pencil razor to create sharp details. Pick your needed eraser, and start placing your highlights. If they get too light, that's no problem. Gently use your blenders to blend the existing graphite on the paper. This process works differently for everyone. If you're not feeling comfortable that you're drawing looks finished, that's because you need to add more layers, maybe more highlights, more details. It's okay to take some time because realism, it's a slow process. Now, let's clean those edges. Grab a regular ruler, align it with your drawing's edge, pick your pencil and eraser, and clean right next to the ruler. Now, grab your regular eraser and clean there rest of the edges. When you're sure you're done, don't forget to use the fixative spray. This will make sure that the graphite won't smudge when you grab it. It will make your drawing a little bit less shiny and more resistant to any contact, and there you have it, your complete realistic drawing. Let's do a quick recap in our next video so you can be sure that you didn't miss a thing, see you there. 10. Recap and Conclusion: Hi. I'm so glad to see you here. Let's do a quick recap on our class. Shall we? You just learned how to use the great technique, and as you saw, it is very helpful to get your drawing outline. Then, I showed you how you can easily understand the values in your reference picture, by creating a gradient with your pencils, and then use that gradients to compare the values. Were you afraid to go dark? Not anymore. Remember that, if you see dark area in your reference, you have to replicate that exact area in your drawing. You've also learned that patience is your friend. Add more layers as your drawing evolves, and blend those layers. Keep adding, keep blending, and remember that this is a constructive process. Drawing hair becomes simple if you follow the natural flow in the direction of it. Apply the same trick to the eyebrows. Covering large areas with a help of a tissue paper makes your drawing process speed up a little bit. Highlight some textures make all the difference in your final piece. So don't forget them. Lastly, use fixative spray to make sure all of your effort doesn't fade away as time goes by. I'm sure you did a wonderful work, and I would be so glad to see your drawing in our class project gallery. I really hope you enjoy this class, and thank you so much for being here with me. Take care, and goodbye.