In today’s video, we’re going to share with you the ultimate guide to drawing realistic faces.

Hi my name is Carrie and I want you to proudly call yourself an artist. Here on Artist Strong we help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice.

Whether you’re a beginner looking to improve your skills, or an experienced artist looking for some new techniques, this video will help you create lifelike portraits.

First, let’s start with the basics. 

Before you dive into drawing a full portrait, make sure you have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of drawing. This includes things like understanding perspective, shading, and proportion.

Now I can already hear Carrie, I don’t want to do drawings of spheres and boxes! BORING. I just want to jump into drawing people. 

Good for you. Go for it.

Please understand that you will be learning fundamentals every time you work on a portrait and it will take time and patience to get those pieces working together and see the results you want to see.

You will still need to study and understand perspective, shading and proportion to create a successful portrait. Research how these techniques apply to portrait art and dig in. 

Use reference materials. 

It’s always a good idea to use reference materials, such as photos or real-life objects, when drawing. This will help you get the proportions and details right and make your portraits more realistic.

So many people have told me they want to draw from their imagination. You can absolutely work towards this, but if you seek to draw realistic faces from your imagination you must first draw realistic faces from references.

The ONLY student I’ve ever known to draw realistically from her imagination did so with horses, because she spent  so much time with them and studying them. And she didn’t exclusively work from imagination once she could, she still often referred to image references and the animals in real life.

Study the anatomy of the face. 

In order to draw realistic faces, it’s important to understand the underlying anatomy of the face. This includes things like the placement of the eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as the muscles and bones that make up the face.

Beginners don’t realize our eyes are in the dead center of our head. If you measure from the top of our head to the middle and the bottom of our chin to the middle, you’ll find our eyes right there.

Also understanding how the features are placed in relation to one another and being able to observe those nuances will help you capture likeness of the people you attempt to draw or paint.

Pay attention to the light and shadow. 

Light and shadow play a crucial role in creating a sense of realism in a portrait. Pay close attention to how the light is hitting the face, and use shading techniques to create the illusion of depth and dimension. 

Too many people are reliant on their use of line and this flattens the face. Focusing more on your use of value and using your pencil a a tool to fill in areas of light or dark will transform a face that looks somewhat realistic into something more substantial.

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Experiment with different media.

You don’t have to stick to just pencils and paper when drawing portraits. Try out different mediums, such as charcoal, pastels, or even digital tools, to see what works best for you and your style.

Practice, practice, practice. 

The best way to improve your portrait drawing skills is to practice regularly. Set aside a specific time each day to draw, and challenge yourself to try new things and push your abilities. I encourage you to look for only 15 minutes a day. It’s amazing how much you will achieve and grow in just 15 minutes of practice. Showing up matters more than the length of time you show up for.  

Getting feedback is also invaluable. 

Find a mentor or peer you can trust to help you catch your errors and start spotting your natural strengths when it comes to drawing. You’ll develop your skill more quickly with the right kind of feedback.

Additionally, understand that making mistakes and not quite capturing likeness doesn’t mean you’re bad at art, it means you aren’t YET at the skill level you wish to be. It can and will happen if you persist.

Take your time. 

Rushing through a portrait will only lead to mistakes and unsatisfying results. Instead, take your time and focus on each part of the face individually. This will help you create more detailed and accurate portraits.

Portraits are my absolute favorite topic and I have a free guide that walks through some of these lessons and demonstrates some of the techniques I mention. If you don’t see the link below message me and I’ll share it with you. 

What would you add to today’s conversation? What is something new you’ll apply to your next portrait? Tell me in the comments below. Thanks so much for watching, please subscribe to Artist Strong, see you next time!

Remember: proudly call yourself artist. Together we are Artist Strong.