After watching this short video it’s possible that you see me capable of drawing pencil portraits. If you are interested in portrait drawing I wrote this post for you.
I liked to draw as long as I can remember. Sometimes more and sometimes less. There were even years where I didn’t bother to take a pencil in my hand and make a drawing. But sporadically I always felt the urge and then I got productive. Most of the time this urge had a duration of a couple of month and then disappeared. Sometimes for a couple of years until the cycle started all over again.
The portrait drawings I showed in the video above are some the result of one of this cycles in 1997. Most of the drawings I made weren’t long in my possession.
Back then I showed the portraits I drew to my friends and it didn’t took long that I did commission jobs in my spare time. I wasn’t really interested in doing it as a business as I just loved the creative process and the thought that some of this drawings would maybe last longer than I would. I remember a job were I drew portraits of friends from old child photographs, put it in a nice frame and they gave it to their parents for the 40th anniversary of their marriage. I recently asked if they still got it and it felt good to know that the drawing still has a special place in their home.
It was a nice distraction from my day job I had in the IT-business in those days.
I remember one day when a friend of mine asked me if I could teach him how to draw pencil portraits like this. I was surprised when I thought about it and my answer was: Of course… ehemmm… not.
You see, I can’t say that I am a bad teacher. But if I have to teach something I always have a concept in mind that I apply. I never considered to teach someone how to draw portraits of people. The problem was that I never analyzed at that time how I did it myself. I just did it.
After thinking about how I did it I came to the conclusion that I always studied a face or a photograph and then in my mind divided it into what I called shadow fields. I studied the shadows in a shadow and so on. Sometimes it felt a little weird. When I was at the supermarket I studied the face of the girl behind the cash desk and thought about how I would start drawing her.
However, I had not really a concept. How could I teach this?
My answer to the question stayed No. Not just because of the problem described, but also because of the fact that I had a very time absorbing day job and the relaxation I got out of my hobby would disappear. And besides this: what would you charge for time consuming drawing lessons?
Since I made my love for art a part of this blog I started to investigate what others do and how they do it.
My latest discovery is a pencil portrait drawing course by Christopher Sia. After deciding that his portraits of David Backham, Tom Cruise, Halle Berry, Avril Lavinge an others are pretty awesome, I signed up to receive his free tutorial material. I wanted to find out more about his way of teaching, as I know that in most books on the topic you’ll find very beautiful drawings. The most important thing is missing: a step by step explanation of how to get these results.
In the first instance I found Christopher Sia’s claim of teaching you how to draw like this within 8 days kind of outlandish. But soon I recognized that he has a very good and logical approach of it.
When it comes to portrait drawing I don’t really build it up in a logical way. Most of the time I start with the eyes and go over to the shadowing before I did the rest of the features of the face. I guess I do this because I’m pretty confident about my skills. But of course often I discovered to late that the proportions weren’t as they should be and I could begin again from scratch.
Considering how time consuming my approach was if something went wrong, it shows that it’s a matter of how you start drawing your artwork. If you do it systematically you can be more secure of not making mistakes that force you to start all over again. This results of course in a lower learning curve and makes the claim of learning it within a week much less outlandish.
Anyway, if you have already the skills to draw good looking pencil portraits this course is not for you. There isn’t even a book I could recommend to you to achieve better results at the time of writing this.
A characteristic face like Al Pacino’s or a young face like Avril Lavigne’s? What face would you say is easier to draw? It’s the last one, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s just better to start with something more simple to begin with. You gain the confidence needed and go to the next level with your next drawing. I didn’t made drawings like I showed you in the video when I was 3 years old. They were much more simple than that. Don’t misunderstand me here: they were good!
In his course Christopher takes the example of Halle Berry and then he starts leading you from scratch through the whole process. You could also decide to take another celeb or a person you know and start following his lessons.
His steps are as followed:
- Choose a reference picture that’s right for you to draw.
- Organize The Position, Outline And Proportions Of The Features
- Eye Drawing – Shading and Shadows (I always started with this as my first step)
- Nose Drawing – Shading and Shadows
- Mouth drawing – Shading and Shadows
- Ear Drawing – Shading and Shadows
- Hair Drawing – Shading and Shadows
- Face Drawing – Shading and Shadows
His course is 60 pages long. Short if you compare it with other books. The reason for this is in my opinion that he leaves out the unnecessary stuff. Explanations that don’t teach anything and just good for the word count. Do you like to read the history of portrait drawing when you up to learn it? Of course not. You want to see a piece of art emerging on this white sheet of paper in front of you.
With Christopher you will learn right from the start. That’s for sure.
For $ 14,95 (that you can get back within 60 days if you are not satisfied) this portrait pencil drawing course is worth my recommendation.
I hope you have fun with your drawing experience.
Have a nice day ahead.