How To Draw A Portrait With Minimal Shadow Shapes

How To Draw A Portrait With Minimal Shadow Shapes

Have you ever tried to draw a portrait where the person in the photo reference had no contrasting shadow shapes? In other words the lighting within the photo was very flat.

When there aren’t many shadow shapes to draw it’s much more difficult to capture a likeness. In this video critique I help out Marjan, a member of Drawing Tutorials Online, with trying to capture a likeness. As you can see in the video below the young girl does not have many shadow shapes to cling onto.

In my latest Begin Here Step By Step course I teach a lesson called “Seeing Shadow Shapes”. Just about every member loved this lesson because shading in shadow shapes makes the process of portrait drawing much easier.

So keep in mind that it’s best to light your subject using form light in order for there to be some recognizable shadow shapes.

Now if you already have photo reference displaying flat light then you want to focus your efforts on drawing the shape of the hair first. Why you may ask, because the shape of the hair acts as a frame for the face. You want to take your time with measuring and drawing the angles of the face where the edge of the face touches the hair.

You also want to look for non contrasting shadow shapes. Practice shading in light non contrasting shadow shapes. Shadows shapes don’t always have to be super dark. You just have to practice being able to recognize subtle values shifts on the face of the person you are drawing.

I hope this video critique helps you with your portrait drawings.


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