Tips To Improve Portrait Drawing Using Structure

Tips To Improve Portrait Drawing Using Structure

Do you draw mainly from photographs?

People often do, and unless you’ve had the experience of drawing from life in a figure or portrait class, you may be struggling with how to improve your drawing, especially in making your drawings look volumetric — three-dimensional.

Photographs are two-dimensional. We don’t have the opportunity walk around the subject to figure out what the form is actually doing. The lighting in a photo can obscure important information we need in order to make a convincing drawing. So we need to rely on what we know about anatomy and structure, not on the photo image alone.

Especially when using photographs as reference, an understanding of structure is important. You have to know what to look for and what to ignore when working from images.

Structure is often overlooked in favor of getting features correct. But you can’t get features correct if you don’t understand what’s going on underneath what you  see.

This is a brief tutorial about how the head is structured, and includes some pointers about what to look for to create an accurate likeness. I discuss proportions and planes — notably the side planes of the head.

This tutorial is in response to an Eye Level reader and community member. Their work is used by permission.

 

 

Related Reading:

Color Mixing For Skin Tones

How To Draw The Head (front view)

How Paying Attention Helps You Draw Better

 

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Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and design director at Alvalyn Creative, an independent practice near Thousand Oaks, California. She creates visual branding, publications and books for business, entrepreneurs and authors. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business roadmap program for creative freelancers. Contact her for your visual branding, graphic and digital design needs. Join her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe to her free monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tks for posting portrait feature proportions. You make it look easy! Granted you’ve spoken about working from pix, but I do get the live differences in heads as well. … Do you have video clip of body proportions? I’m taking a life drawing class & always have to rework the basics. I seem to do ok w-detail observations, but get too caught up on person’s parts instead of overall essence. ..

    1. Hi, Kathleen: I’ll be adding tutorials and demos soon, but perhaps not in time for your life drawing class. What I can offer right away is to begin your drawings by laying in gesture, and build out the form by comparing proportions (size and distance relationships). Don’t move to details and contours until you ge the overall movement and proportions of the figure set.

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