Tuesday, February 03, 2015

tips for drawing a face

Yesterday I shared a peek at the collaboration with my husband Andy and today I've asked Andy to share a few tips when it comes to drawing faces.

Drawing what I see comes natural to me, in fact I have an easier time working in a realistic style than in an expressive and messy way. Since a lot of my subject matter revolves around portraits and figure drawings, I really depend on a traditional and classic techniques when working on a drawing. While it takes a lot of time and practice to get comfortable drawing faces, there are a few things that can help you along the way.

When drawing something challenging like a face, I find that it helps the process to select subject matter that is inspiring. Here are the things that I look for:

CONTRAST: Since a lot of my style is about working with shading I find that it helps to pick subject matter that has lots of contrast and variation between light and dark. This makes things easier for me when it comes time to shade.

ANGLES: I like to look for figurative subject matter that has interesting angles or poses or energy.

UNIQUE DETAILS: When I am drawing portraits or figures, I like to include unique, quirky or whimsical details in the clothing or accessories.

SUBJECT MATTER THAT COMES EASY: Profiles are easier for me so if I want to draw quicker or feel more relaxed during the process, I will use things that I am comfortable or familiar with.


I think it is important to try and get a good outline of the face You don't have to be crazy exact but getting a good line drawing on paper will help as you move forward with shading. The best advice I can offer is to not judge the outline on its own. Instead start adding life to it by shading and layering. You will see the texture and dimension bring the simple outline alive. One of my favorite things when shading is the chance to mold the original outline into a shape that is more similar to the subject I am drawing.


Since my style is all about capturing realistic subject matter, I really depend on shading to bring my drawings to life. While a drawing can look ok without shading, it can look flat and lifeless and the easiest way to add life is with contrast. Finding the lightest and darkest parts of your subject matter will make shading much easier.

One of the quickest ways to get eyes to look alive is to add the light or the reflection of light in the eye. Typically this can be achieved by holding onto white space, using an erasure to pull pencil away or even adding white paint or white pencil.


Sometimes facial features can be challenging, especially if there are unusual details and angles happening. I find that it is easier to be more suggestive (especially when drawing the nose and lips) with lighter shading techniques- than to be literal with hard dark lines.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: It's probably not the tip you want to hear practice is one of the best ways to get better and more comfortable drawing faces. There is no magic formula for getting good at details except taking time to work on it!


livethegoldenrule said...

What an amazing talent! It is easy to see you have put in a lot of practice. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. :D


you are so Amazing Alisa.. so awesome! l always enjoy reading your articles :) keep sharing!

Unknown said...

Waouhhhhh !!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! So very talented indeed. You make a fantastic couple.

Unknown said...

insane talent

studioGypsy said...

i think andy needs to write a drawing faces book.. :D love his work and the style.. and this drawing thing is challenging for me.. especially in the practice dept.. ;)

Janie Husband said...

Oh, my....... Amazing

peggy gatto said...

Thank you! I do admire your talent, faces scare me...funny!

Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

I wish Andy would do an ecourse!

Sande said...

Thank you for sharing Alisa and Andy. Love seeing art from both of you!

Terri said...

OMG... he makes it look so easy.

Dotti said...

What amazes me about your work are your ink drawings. That's when every single mark is a commitment.


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