If you want to draw freehand portraits it can seem impossible to get the proportions right and make what you draw look like what you see.
Everyone struggles with that.
So you do some research and you find various kinds of measurement techniques, the more advanced ones are called methods. These methods are essentially geometry. Circles and ellipses (circles in perspective) combined with a bit of universal divisions of the skull. You learn all this and you will be able to draw what you see right? Wrong. These methods allow you to draw without seeing anything. That’s why they were invented, so that illustrators could draw faces and figures without the need for any real reference.
I’m not saying using a method is wrong, millions of people do it. Learning anatomy isn’t wrong either, again it’s a tried and tested way to learn to draw.
But, what if I told you that you already have the skills you need and that it’s the way you think about drawing that is the problem.
I’ve drawn almost 2000 portraits and I do it everyday, sometimes as many as 3 portraits a day.
I don’t use any methods and I know nothing about anatomy.
So how do I do it?
Well, firstly let’s look at what you are trying to do.
Are you trying to make a copy of a face or do you want it to be more than simply photographic.
If it’s more than photographic, then I can help. If it’s not, get yourself some tracing paper, it would make things a whole lot easier.
My way is very simple and it works every time.
It involves using 3 dots and what you can already do, “look”. The trouble is we forget how to really look at something with the world so full of visual stimulus we shut off to avoid being overloaded. We see only a small part of what is really in front of our eyes.
The other thing is you have to forget what you think a portrait is, what it should be and what you see other people do. You need a “clean slate”, just like a child, not held back by expectations.
What you will need:
- Easel (full size or desktop)
- Putty/Kneaded rubber
What’s it all about
The 3 Dots01:51
Things to consider before you start
The way you work02:35
Stage 1. Using the 3 Dot approach
Checking your accuracy using 3 dots08:54
Stage 2. Identifying the shapes
Use the dots to anchor the shapes17:50
Stage 3. Applying the tones
Using tone to give the shapes form23:41
A summary of the process03:07
The importance of mindset
More images to work with00:00
How to make charcoal00:00