Have you ever tried to draw a portrait for a friend that didn’t go so well? You had a great photo of a friend or family member and when you tried to draw from it, it was not a good experience.

It’s most likely the photo had front lighting from flash photography. Your friends looked great, but the photo had no shadow shapes to cling onto. Drawing a portrait from front lighting is super difficult. Of course it can be done, however you have to be well versed in seeing subtle value shifts.

The key to drawing from flat front light is practicing matching values. It’s also all about understanding form. Once you understand form and can match values you can pretty much draw from any photograph.

I see many new members of Drawing Tutorials Online struggle when trying to draw a portrait from front light. I get it, you might have a photo of a dear friend and you want to draw a portrait for them.

My suggestion is that you invite them to your studio in order to take a new picture of them. Make it fun, have a drink, relax and definitely use form light. Turn the flash off. Form light will provide you with shadow shapes that you can actually use. Drawing shadow shapes accurately is the key to drawing a likeness.

Take a moment to check out the video below. It will definitely help you if you have to draw from a flat photo.

If you would like a critique of your artwork definitely consider a membership to Drawing Tutorials Online!

Thanks for watching:)