Critique on Portraits

Home Forums Critique Critique on Portraits

This topic contains 22 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Joshua 7 years ago.

  • Subscribe Favorite
  • #321

    I started doing portrait exercises today, trying to follow the advice Kim gave me.

    My ultimate goal is to be able to draw portraits that actually can be easily recognised as who I'm trying to draw.

    I have very limited experience drawing portraits. I've followed a few online tutorials on portrait drawing throughout the year, although I haven't actively been practising it. Looking back through all the drawings I've done since I started learning in January, before today I had done exactly nine pages of portraits (which, for the most part, was one face per page). I don't believe I've ever attempted to draw a portrait quickly.

    Before starting doing the face drawing exercises on this site, I decided to do a self-portrait as a reference (if I do a self-portrait once every few weeks, I can use that to track my progress). I also wanted to see how much I've improved since my early attempts at self-portraits at the beginning of the year. Since those were in pen, and I'll be doing the future exercises on this site in pencil, I decided to do both a pen and a pencil self-portrait today as a fair reference to both.

    This (link) is the first portrait (self or otherwise) I ever did, 319 days ago. This is another self-portrait I did two weeks later, after looking at a few online tutorials.

    Here are the two self-portraits I did today, before starting the timed exercises:
    These don't look like the same person. The pen drawing looks like an angry 40 year-old man, whereas I looked like a woman in the pencil drawing before adding facial hair. I haven't improved at all in the last 300 days (except that now the face is a little more symmetric), which makes sense because I've been drawing things other than portraits in that time. Hopefully I'll see a bigger improvement in the next few weeks.

    After those two pages, I immediately did timed exercises on this site, producing this page. Each section corresponds to 30-second, 1-minute, and 2-minute drawings respectively. I intend to do these exercises alongside the hand and figure exercises in the future, and I'll use this thread to request critique on my exercises.

    Please support Line of Action

    Support us to remove this


    A great start! You are boldly taking on a whole lot of different practices right now. I hope you aren't going to overwhelm yourself!

    As for critique -- I'm not sure, but I think you're putting the eye crossbar a little too high on the faces. I think you're being fooled by the start of the hairline and not counting that area as part of the "face", when in fact the hairy part of the skull needs to have room allowed for it on the oval you've drawn too.


    Thanks Kim. I did make a conscious decision to draw and take the full skull into account and draw the eye crossline lower today, and when I was doing the exercises I thought I was succeeding. When I finished the exercises and looked back at what I drew, the eye crossbar looked just as high as in yesterdays drawings...

    Anyway, here's today's attempt.


    I didn't do a portrait drawing exercise on this site tonight, but I did draw a portrait based on a photo in a drawing textbook: Link
    I spent 48 minutes on that - I really need to practise doing them quickly!


    I drew these ones today, doing the 30-second, 1-minute, and 2-minute exercises.

    After drawing the shape of the head, I found it hard to exactly locate the features on the face. I found if I started by drawing the hair (both the hairline on the head, as well the shape around the head), it was much easier to visualise where to draw the crosshairs.

    I also just noticed that the link at the beginning of my original post links to the wrong place on this site, and apparently I can't edit it anymore. I meant to link to this thread.


    Could I suggest going for some 2, 5, and 10 min variants instead of going for 30 sec, 1 min and 2 min right off the bat? Might help to build confidence for the shorter times.


    Joshua, I am by no means an expert, but when it comes to drawing the head. I spent a ton of time on youtube watching videos. There are so many ways to start that it can be overwhelming, and I think I tired 95% of them. In the end, for me anyway, after a while I found that I had somewhat of a hybrid style to laying down the foundation for my heads.
    I still go back to that resource and refresh myself quite often, but it seems to have given me some pretty consistant results.


    Hi Joshua,

    In addition to what JeremyA and Ay.Spies said, keep in mind that drawing a good head depends on your ability to construct form. You need to study and understand the anatomy of the head, starting with its bone structure, proportions and planes. Otherwise your head drawings will end up looking like egg shapes with some features attached to them. Andrew Loomis' head drawing book is a good place to start.


    Can't agree more with Swen, I don't know how many skulls I've drawn now. Its really helped me with the position of the basic features of the face, especially the cheekbones, with can really be a game changer when it comes to identifying people.

    And on the note of what JeremyA mentioned about tutorials, have a wide range of them is always great. It helps to let you find your own way of doing things. Like for example starting the head with a circle, although I still do it every now and then, I find trying to make the face out of more curved organic lines helps to add character. Especially the cheek bones, I can't get enough of them.

    Hope that wasn't too much to take in at one time! I think I of gotten ahead of myself.


    Thanks for the advice everyone. I did these portraits tonight.

    I started off doing a 30-second exercise, and only remembered halfway through it that Ay.Spies advised me to do longer exercises. I did another 30-second exercise so it was a solid minute, and then did two five-minute exercises.

    I just had a look through Andrew Loomis’ book (it's in the public domain, and so can be downloaded for free legally). How should I practise with it? Should I try to copy the plates?
    I also found a book on figure drawing by the same author, which I will also have a look at.


    I attempted to imitate Plate 1 in Andrew Loomis' book here.


    I did some more portrait-drawings today. I tried to start off by drawing spheres this time, like in the exercises I did yesterday.



    I think the first hour of this tutorial will help you. The artist outlines some basic forms of the human skull and face.


Login or create an account to participate on the forums.