Portrait Drawing for Beginners: Unleash Your Artistic Talent

Portrait drawing for beginners is a subject that can bring joy and fun, and with some simple techniques, you’ll be able to create your masterpieces in no time! This is a tutorial for people who are new to drawing and want to learn how to draw their favorite celebrities.

traditional vs digital drawing

Decide the medium of your face portrait drawing.

The main methods that you can choose from are the traditional way, also known as pen and paper, or digital. Pencil and paper are the first choices for most artists since it is easily accessible. Choosing digital can make portrait drawing easy, allowing you to use references as a transparent layer and offering a plethora of tools for image editing.

You can easily undo things if you mess up. This allows you to be bold while drawing, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Doing many drawings fast is really good for improving, and with digital art, you can do that without wasting a ton of paper.


Sketching the portrait drawing for beginners is a must

After opening the program of your choice, there’s a good chance that the first choice you face is regarding the size of your digital canvas. To make portrait drawing easy, choose a resolution of at least 2500×2500 pixels. At this size, your art will not be too pixelated.

First, create a separate layer to do your sketch. Here you can create the broad details of your drawing; since it’s just a sketch, you can go through many compositions fast until you get to one that you like. This part is essential in creating portrait drawing for beginners. Don’t spend too much time refining these; they are here to give you a general idea.

portrait drawing for beginners - sketch

Practice the linework

After completing your sketch and being happy with the composition, you can start drawing the final lines. Don’t skip the sketching, as that will make the portrait drawing easy.

First, your lines will undoubtedly be shaky. This shaky line work is what makes the difference between a newbie and a pro. Shaky lines are what make drawings look like they were made by a five-year-old, so it is truly essential to practice drawing flowing, smooth lines.
Try drawing with a single stroke of your arm. Avoid using your wrist while drawing; use your elbow and shoulder instead. The lines will become much smoother. With time your lines will become smoother and more precise, so keep up practicing to build muscle memory.


Don’t be distracted by fancy brushes

You might be tempted to get a huge set of fancy brushes to improve your work, but at this point, that would be a mistake. Programs like Photoshop offer an abundance of choices. Since we are talking about portrait drawing for beginners, the brush choice is not too important. First, focus on getting the basics right. Only after you have a solid foundation can you start looking around for things to perfect your art, like custom brushes.

painting of flowers

Stay consistent.

Consistency is key to improvement. Even veteran artists will see a noticeable degradation in the quality of their work if they stop drawing. Constant practice will bring your face portrait drawing to the next level. When practicing, volume is key; try dishing out as many drawings as you can, and don’t fiddle too much with one drawing.

photo of a man

Use references!

If you want to do portrait drawing for beginners using references is really important. You need a ton of practice before you can start drawing from only your imagination. As a beginner, you still have to learn about the portions and the shapes that make up the human face. Using good reference photos will help you with learning them.

What makes a reference good? First of all, lighting. Try selecting pictures that have strong, sharp shadows. These shadows will help you see the shape of the face more clearly. Avoid selecting pictures of people who are too young, as the structure of their faces is different, with different ratios. Find pictures where the subject has a neutral expression on their face. Drawing facial expressions is still too early at this point.

Asaro head

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Break the face into smaller shapes

To make face portrait drawing easy, or at least as easy as possible, you have to break down the face into smaller shapes. Focus on the planes that make up the human face and how they catch the light and cast shadows. Learn how these basic planes are connected and what are the ratios between them. Simplify the face as much as possible, and practice drawing this simplified face from different angles. A good pointer on how to break down a face into planes is the Asaro’s head.

person's face - breakdown sketch

Practice using the simplification of a human face

As practice before drawing the face in its full glory, first, you need to have an understanding of the shapes that it’s made of. You can find three-dimensional models online that help aspiring artists do that, breaking down the face into shapes that are easy to visualize and understand.
As a practice, draw portraits using only these basic planes. Make sketches of these basic head figures first until you can break down any face into these basic shapes. This exercise will make portrait drawing easier for beginners. Your drawings will gradually improve once you implement thinking about faces as a collection of simple, geometric planes.

Bonus tip

As a bonus tip, you can start the learning process with portrait drawings for kids. This way, you will have a higher chance of learning to draw something more complicated. If you have made a successful illustration, you can create a portrait drawing for beginners pdf file, where you can save all your drawings thus you can check your progress anytime. After a while, you will learn how to draw portraits with a pencil and have enough experience to know how to draw realistic portraits step by step in a digital format.

Read more >> Why create an avatar from your photo?


If you’re a beginner at portrait drawing and would like to improve your skills, consider following the tips in this article. Practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged if your results aren’t immediately stellar β€” with time and patience, you will gradually see your skills improve. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to produce portraits that rival those of the great masters! True, it’s a challenging, if not the most challenging, subject to take on, but if you persevere, the reward makes it all worthwhile. This can be a wonderful hobby that can turn into a passion or even a profession.

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