Recently Maria, a member of Drawing Tutorials Online, posted up a portrait drawing for feedback. Her main question, why is the drawing flat?

First off I want to thank you Maria for presenting this awesome teaching opportunity. There are many reasons why a portrait drawing can look flat. Let’s touch on four of them.

  • There is no background tone. With no tone in the background you have no foreground and background. Thus your portrait drawing is just sitting on white paper. Plus a tone or gradation placed in the background can provide you with an opportunity to soften the hair’s edge. Soft hair equals depth.
  • There are no gradations within the skin tone. When you have no shading from the light side to the dark side of the face your portrait drawings will look flat. There is most likely always a light hitting the model. If there is a light source there is definitely a gradation from side to side or top to bottom. Including gradations with create much more three dimension in your portrait drawings.
  • There are too many outlines. Line is awesome. However line alone can be flat in some cases. Drawing with a consistent outline will almost always create a flat outlined look. Combining tone with line promotes much more dimension.
  • There is no modeling with tone. Yes you can model with line. However modeling with line and tone is much better for creating dimension. What exactly are you modeling? You are modeling how light hits the form of the face. Understanding how surface planes work is super important. Understanding how to implement the modeling factors is vital as well.

I want to thank you so much for watching this video critique. If you are looking for a critique on your work just like this one consider a membership to Drawing Tutorials Online.

Our critique gallery is a kind nurturing place for you to learn and grow fast.

Thanks again for watching. Questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.