Recently a member posted up a drawing to our Group Coaching Gallery over at Drawing Tutorials Online. The question this member posed was, how do I draw a likeness of Bette Davis in under an hour?
Great question! I’m guessing you have drawn a portrait or two. I guessing you didn’t get the likeness every time. I know there have been many times that I struggled with drawing the likeness of someone too.
There is a combination of drawing techniques that you can use to help solve this problem.
The first technique, draw a boarder. Draw a boarder on your paper to the exact proportions of the boarder of your portrait reference. So if the photo reference has a boarder of 8 x 10, draw an 8 x 10 boarder on your paper. Yes use an old school ruler.
Second, place your photo reference right next to your drawing. A big mistake I see, many artists keep there photo reference far away from their drawing. Keep it super close.
Third, draw the abstract negative shapes that surround the head and shoulders. If these abstract negative shapes are not correct, you guessed it, no bueno. You will never get the likeness of someone’s portrait if you do not draw these negative shapes correctly first.
Fourth technique, draw angles or use a continuous line to separate the hair from the face. Just being conscious of drawing the shape of the hair verses the shape of the face is half of the battle.
Fifth, definitely start to draw in the shadow shapes of both the hair and face. Put some tone in. Don’t make the mistake of just drawing with line alone.
In terms of the features, it totally depends on the type of light. Was the portrait reference taken in form light, rim light or front light? Each one of these light sources requires a different skill set to get the likeness.
So the next time your want to draw Bette Davis or the girl next door start with a boarder.
This techniques works. It has helped many of my coaching students. It has taken the mystery out of how to draw a likeness when drawing a portrait.
Did you need help with learning how to draw a better portrait? We have dozen’s of portrait drawing tutorials within our member area at Drawing Tutorials Online. Those tutorials combined with weekly coaching will help you improve with speed and confidence.
Thanks for reading.
Great lesson, however do I really need to start with a paying house guest or can I simply begin with a ‘border’ … ?
That aside, love learning from all your free stuff. Helping get this older artist back into what he missed for a lifetime. Hopefully one day, soon, the paid member might be in store.