Drawing Expressive Portraits

Here it is as promised.  The best book I’ve ever come across on the subject of drawing faces is Drawing Expressive Portraits by Paul Leveille.  It was given to me by a friend of mine from Germany who is quite a talented artist herself.

This book has everything the ambitious artist needs to start drawing realistic faces:

*Basic Drawing Techniques

*Head Proportions

*Drawing the Features

I refer back to this chapter over and over again!



*Working from a model

*Drawing the portrait step by step

Mr. Leveille includes encouraging comments that have kept me trying, even when I get discouraged.

Here’s some encouragement for you if you are taking on the challenge of learning to draw:

“The more you draw, the more your hand-eye coordination will improve.”

“While learning to draw portraits, remember that you are not in a race.  Relax and progress at your own pace.”

“As long as you keep drawing, you will move forward!”

Learning to Draw Faces (that look human)

When I first started this blog almost a year ago, one of my main purposes was to keep track of my ongoing efforts to learn how to draw.  If you’ve kept up with my posting much,  you know there hasn’t been much drawing practice.

Drawing takes so much effort!  Taking pictures is easier. 

I have produced many pages of faces in the last year that, frankly, are too scary to post.

Recently, however, I’ve renewed my determination.  I’ve been busy copying faces from my art books.  Here’s a recent example that won’t make any babies cry.  I used the painting above (Portrait of a Lady, by Rogier van der Weyden, c. 1460) as a model.  I purposefully lowered the hairline, though.  My book explains that it was the style back then to pluck the hairline back to create an unusually high forehead.  Interesting.

 Here she is again…

And here is my attempt to draw her…

You would not believe how much time I spent on that nose. It’s still not  right. I added the trefoil medallion (a symbol of the Trinity) for fun.

I know it doesn’t look much like the model, but at least it looks like a person, as opposed to an alien life form.  There are a lot of mistakes, but I see a lot of  improvements over the last face I posted!  That progress gives me the courage to post my drawings on here when I know many of you out there can do better. 

I’ll try to post the book I’m going through this weekend.  It’s a self-teaching book about drawing realistic faces and it’s helped me a lot!

Usborne’s “Drawing Faces”

I love this book! I picked it up at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX.

This is the best book I’ve ever seen for kids on how to draw faces.  It contains 27 lessons on how to create faces of all sorts using many different techniques.

It starts out demonstrating the basic shapes of the face and how to use guidelines to help get the features in the right place.  At first, I thought this might overwhelm my 7-year-old, but we went through it together slowly, and what do you know?  Her faces no longer have the eyes at the top of the forehead :)

The lessons are in a step-by step format where they start with the first lines of the drawing and then show you the progression in steps until it’s completed.

The shading section was a little bit difficult, so we skipped on to the colored pencil lesson and she liked that a lot.

This book is also internet-linked, so you can type in the  address given with each lesson and see real art by real artists using the technique of that particular lesson.  This makes it even more fun and gives your little artist lots of ideas!  My daughter especially liked the lesson on stylized faces.

There is a step-by-step example of how to make stylized faces using pieces of colored tissue paper that was fun, too!

We’ve gone through half the book now and her favorite lesson has been  “Drawing on a Computer”.  She got on Microsoft Paint and had a blast making faces.

For the “Drawing in Pen” lesson she did a self-portrait by looking into a mirror. 

I’m looking forward to finishing this book! There are many more fun lessons like “Drawing Cartoons”, “Expressions”, and “Caricatures”.

Drawing faces can be really intimidating, but this book has already helped my young artist approach faces with more confidence. Her next project?  Doll portraits  :)