Female portrait

As exam session is not the best time for painting (at least not for me and not this time) I was only able to practice and polish my skill on some simple 10-minutes sketches. That's why I had this idea to learn a bit about drawing portraits, female ones - for starters, and then to put it into nice tutorial. Well... See for yourself how it went...

Of course comments and critique are more than welcome. Help me improve those tutorials

I noticed that every good tutorial about portrait drawing has on the beginning some part about proportions. Well, this one isn't good, it seems. I don't know, somehow this is not very convincing for me to put a one-eye-wide spade between eyes and make head 7 eyes long every time. What the hell, we are not all like that. I know, it's some kind of guide, but you can learn how to draw good portraits without a ruler...

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Speaking for myself - I don't think about proportions, I don't use those special tricks, I can't tell anyone about them. Proportions should be there. That's all. And let's stick to that.

Great, fantastic even, but how one is supposed to draw a good portrait without any guide like that and make that portrait a recognizable human face? Proportions are not only special tricks and rulers. Everyone can look at the face and immediately say that "something is wrong" if proportions are bugged. The main issue is how to find what is exactly wrong and how to fix it. Sometimes we don;t see mistakes in our works and yet, someone else spots them right away. Oh we will see them too, eventually. After a while, that's for sure... But why? Why couldn't we see before that one eye is lower than the other?

That's quite simple - we just got used to the "weird looking face".

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And that's it. That's the method. You just need to look carefully, every time to pass people on the street, sit in the bus, daydream during lectures - look at those faces, analyse them, dissect them, compare them. That's the clue. After noticing thoughts like: "oh, wider space between eyes makes people look a bit like a frog..." will be more valueable in your future work than that rules and guides. And practice, even for 5 minutes, even if it doesn't work, just try to sketch that face out and see what you did wrong. Think while you draw! If you don't see your mistakes - leave for a couple of days and after that - find and destroy the cause of an ugly portrait.

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I honestly don't see any better method to learn shape of the face, proportions and so on. I practiced everyday, drawing one or two 5 to 10 minutes portraits. Nothing fancy, gray background, black for shadows, white for lights, that's it. I pick just some random photos from the Internet, that's a practice anyway. From time to time I drew from imagination, to test myself. And that's it. I really wish I had something better to say about that topic but - sorry, that's how I see it. Observation and practice.

Below I will walk you though a more serious portrait (took an hour, not 10 minutes). And again - that's nothing special. It's just to show you how to start and how to practice.

I start with a gray background (300dpi, 3000 x 3000 but it was an overkill for this one, that file could have been smaller), take the most basic, round and soft brush with low (around 30%) opacity and just start painting. I use black to sketch out where face features and shadows might be. It looks decent, right now there is a lot more in my head than there is on the paper so it's easy to "see" good proportions and hard to spot mistakes. I start with nose, as it is in the center and it will be easier to move to the other parts from it. Right after nose I sketch lips and try to find the shape of the whole face. If you can't see that the face is too plumpy in the third picture you surely need some more practice ;D But wait... Isn't that just a matter of preference...?

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After a while of struggle I finally found where that face should end. I just tried and tried and tried until it looked right. After that I fix her eyes and add some detail. Next are eyelashes and some bright lines around nose, to make it stick out more.

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Now - the hair. It's easier to paint it flat and dark at first and add light strands later on. Also it's a good practice not to just move to super thin lines but to arrange whole hairstyle first. I wrote more about it in my other tutorial about painting hair. Here it's only important that the hair looks good with the face and fits to the whole image.

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Those are last minutes, really. I work with hair a little bit, but after a while I just cover it with hair. Well - I don't care. It was just practice. I would spend a lot more time on it otherwise. I just wanted to see if I can draw anything decent after all those little practice sketches I made before. And I am quite satisfied :)

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For the final words - no tutorial will give you as much as 40 simple sketches and some serious analysis so just get to work and good luck! ;D