Most artists don’t really think about gesture when it comes to portrait drawing. Recently during a video critique session I noticed a recurring theme. It was the missing ingredient in three separate images. The portrait drawings were are pretty cool. They were all just missing that loose gestural quality.

It’s so very easy to get caught up in all of the typical portrait drawing techniques. Drawing techniques like angles, value matching shading etc etc. I know I do all the time. Gesture is equally important. It places the head on the shoulders in a natural way. It helps you to focus on the tilt of the head and shoulders. Sometimes this can be very subtle.

Just being conscious of incorporating or at least just seeing gesture when you are about to start a portrait drawing is huge.

Let’s say you are starting to work on a portrait drawing. You have set aside a few hours on your Saturday to dive into rendering and shading. Take a moment at the beginning of the drawing to complete a quick portrait gesture sketch at the top corner of your piece of paper. This will help you to find the big gesture lines.



You certainly don’t have to spend a lot of time of this. Again this is all about trying to loosen up your portrait drawings. It’s about seeing the movement of the head and shoulders in tandem.

So the next time you start a portrait drawing, find the gesture of the head. This drawing technique could be a difference maker in the quality and feel of your next drawing.


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