Do artists draw their own portraits

Learn to draw faces / portraits

One of the classic and most popular subjects in the visual arts is the portrait. However, drawing a portrait is not one of the easiest exercises. Since our eye is trained to recognize faces, mistakes and inconsistencies in portrait drawings quickly become apparent to us. But even when we recognize that something is wrong in the drawing, many find it difficult to say where the error is.

In these instructions for drawing portraits, I would like to give you some guidelines on what you have to consider when drawing or painting a face. If you want to learn to draw people, hopefully you will find some helpful tips here.

Before you try to draw the face of a certain person, you should first consider a few basics. Proportions are especially important when drawing a face. Of course, everyone looks different, but many basic proportions are always almost the same and there are typical drawing mistakes that are often made, especially as a beginner.

  • For example, the height of the forehead and the position of the eyes should be taken into account when drawing a portrait. Often the forehead is intuitively drawn too low, causing the eyes to slide up too far on the face. The eyes are roughly in the middle of the face. Maybe it's because of the hair that deceives you in your own perception. When I started drawing faces and people, I made this mistake at least often.

  • The nose can be used as a kind of unit of measurement when drawing faces. The eyes divide the face in half vertically. The forehead is about two noses up, the nose (guess what) is one nose up and the mouth + chin are also one nose up. So the height of our face measures four noses :-).

In the picture below you can see the rough division of the face in height (colored markings).


Learn to draw a face / portrait: subdivide the face in height

There are also important guidelines for the width of the face that you should consider when drawing or painting a portrait.

  • What is often overlooked when drawing a face is that the area next to the eyes is about the width of an eye.

  • The distance between the eyes is also an eye length wide.

  • In summary, the face is about five eye lengths wide.

In the picture below you can see the rough division of the face in width (colored markings).


Learn to draw a face / portrait: Subdivide the face in width

In the following you can see the step-by-step creation of a portrait. With rough sketches of this kind you can practice drawing portraits very nicely.
Here's a tip: A typical mistake when drawing a portrait is, for example, that the back of the head is drawn too flat. So note: the back of the head is spherical not flat. You can see this well in the series of images below.


Learning to draw a face / portrait: Step-by-step procedure for practicing portrait drawing

The best thing to do is to grab a pen and pad and just try to draw a portrait yourself. I wish you a lot of fun and good luck with drawing and painting!