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Drawing the female face using a photo image-The female face-How to draw a face.

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Practicing from a photo image.


Using the photos and examples of my own work I will try to give you a visual demonstration of the benefits of dividing the face into equal parts. I have applied the same principles as in the first part of this tutorial and applied it to my sketch. I have found using this method a great way to practice drawing the female face. I have divided the photographs below into equal parts starting from approximately the midpoint of the eyes. The bottom half of the face has then been divided in half and then the lower part has been divided in half again to demonstrate the guide points for the base of the nose the mouth and the base of the chin. Remember, all head shapes and faces are different so the proportions can and will vary from subject to subject. The lines are only guide points.

Sasha photo Sasha sketch
The face is the most important part of your drawing. It tells the viewer about the person. Their mood, their thoughts or their intent and sometimes even the type of life they are leading.

How to draw portraits from a photo reference. The image shown to the right is a more up to date re-draw of my Sasha G photo using the same method as above. For this drawing I also used a set of artists dividers along with my reference points to accurately set out the features of the face, which as you can see from the portrait made a great improvement. (To get your own set of dividers use this link. (artists dividers)
I also incorporated some of the many techniques included in the tutorials on this site, links for which can be found in the left hand side bar.

I also watched some useful videos which I have added to the right side bar for your reference.

The most important thing the new images represents is that if you continue to practice you will get better and improve.

By dividing the face up you can use the points to plot the shape and proportions of the face by measuring from the center line to each side of the face with a ruler as shown below the photo image of Nicole. This gives me the basic shape of the face and also helps me to judge were everything else fits in. When you have finished your basic outline you can then fine tune the shape of the face later.
You can also add extra lines to help you get accurate measurements for the facial features which is demonstrated in the 2016 redraw of Nicole which can be seen lower down the page.
Nicole photo  Nicole sketch

Basic facial proportions, setting out the face.
Drawing portraits using reference points. Make sure that when you are setting out your subject you make it large enough for you to be able to add the facial detail. I say this because through my own experience as a beginner, the smaller I have tried to draw the subject, the harder it has been to draw a convincing likeness, as it becomes extremely hard to add the detail, especially when doing the eyes and lips, which to me can make or break your picture. The eyes and the lips hold the mood and personality of the subject and no matter how well you draw your subject, if they are not convincing then the picture will not portray what you have set out to do. As can be seen in the two early attempts above of Sasha G 2010 and Nicole 2010, I still have a long way to go even now but I will continue to practice until I achieve my goal. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to take your time and never give up. Try to draw at every opportunity even if it is only for a few minutes a day.

Tip: It is very important that you always use sharp pencils for your detail work which are best sharpened using a craft knife as you can get a sharper point. You can also use a piece of fine sandpaper to sharpen a fine point if you have used a standard pencil sharpener.

If you are struggling to get a detail right, leave it and walk away. I find that by coming back later and having another go I can usually make a better job of what I am trying to achieve as I tend to be able to see the more obvious mistakes that eluded me at my first attempt. This also helps avoid any rash judgments based on frustration that may result in you giving up or binning your sketch.
Another good way to see if your sketch is going well is to view it upside down. Sometimes this can help you see the obvious mistakes that are invisible to you when you look at your sketch the right way up.

Always make sure you use a sharp pencil when doing your initial sketched outline. The thicker the lines are the harder it is to define the shape and proportion of the details of the face and sometimes by having a thicker line your mistakes look worse than they actually are.

Mechanical Pencils.

Since first writing this tutorial I have started to use mechanical pencils which can be purchased a wide range of lead thicknesses from 0.3 0.5 0.7 0.9. they also come in different grades and at the moment I am experimenting with a 0.7mm 3B and a 0.4mm 4H. I am finding them great for doing detail in the hair, eyes, eyebrows and lips.
I have also just ordered some tombow mono zero erasers which I am keen to try out as they are excellent for removing small areas and picking out details when drawing with pencils

Portraits using the grid method

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