Portrait Sketches

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Sanne 4 years ago.

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    There are a lot of ways to draw figures in 30 seconds, and sketch them quickly, but exactly how would you do that with portrait drawing?


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    The purpose of gesture drawings is usually to help understand motion and proportions in drawings by simplifying what you see into a drawing. Faces have rough lines, just like figures, but in different places.

    Most commonly people start with drawing a vertical that follows the nose and its angle, and a horizontal line that follows the eyes and their angle.

    Based on these two lines, one can draw a rough shape of the face/jaw matching the angle of those lines. One can add ears, usually draw circles for the eye(sockets), the nose and mouth, and even attach a neck. By then usually 30 seconds have passed!

    This will help you get familiar with faces and the placement of facial features in different angles and shapes. :) (Which is the whole point of a gesture drawing!) This forms a solid base for when you start to get detailed and make serious portrait sketches.

    Does this make sense to you? If it still doesn't, let me know and I'll see about sketching out a couple of facial gesture drawings for you!


    Hi @sanne, I just saw this post, I´m starting to study facial gesture and came with this ptoblem too, thanks to your tip it kinds of helps to understand the concept, however it gets a little confusing since there are little or none videos doing gesture or sketch drawing doing expressions or face, if you know of any link or could show us a sketch it might help a lot.

    This are the steps I do, and I find them not very usefull.
    1.-draw the head circle
    2.- draw the vertical and horizontal line to see where eyes, nose and moth should be
    3.-draw the face outline

    by this time the 30 seconds have passed and I couldnt do the expression :/, so this is not helping me at all



    Hi again Sergio!

    That's a very understandable (and I imagine frustrating) situation. There's nothing wrong with starting with a higher timer and gradually working your way down! You can always start with 60 or even 90 seconds, see how much you get done and practice this regularly for 1-2 weeks. If you feel more confident, lower the timer one step down (so if you did 90 seconds, go down to 60).

    Alternatively you can practice to draw faster, too. A quick stroke with some disregard for perfection/detail is what gestures are about, after all! The circle and vertical/horizontal lines should be easily done in about 5 seconds, giving you 25 seconds to draw the face shape and other features. (You can also leave out the circle entirely and just work from the vertical and horizontal lines, but this is personal preference for sure.) Your goal is not to be perfect but to get a feel for proportion and train your brain to recognize what it sees and put it down on paper in the simplest way possible, while keeping the expression intact.

    In short, you're trying to figure out the essential key features in a face that determine the expression and emotions. Arched eyebrows with wide eyes can convey all the surprise without needing a nose and mouth and jaw/face outline, after all! Being able to recognize these key features and jotting them down quickly as a base is something to work towards alongside finding the right proportions.

    You can definitely combine a bigger timer with practice for quicker sketching. Both work just as well and will help you improve, but you may need to experiment to see what works best for you.

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