the big sketchbook - you will need it, you will be using up a lot
of paper. One of the most important things you can do is just draw,
draw, draw. Books or a good class can really help (and I heartily
recommend them) but without practice, it's all about nothing.
- any brand will do. A softer lead is better. The typical #2 pencil
is OK. If you find pencils that have the HB - 2B - 3B rating, go with
B or 2B. HB is too hard, and 4B is getting too soft. You want your
pencil to be soft enough to get dark darks, (instead of washed-out
grays that an HB will give you). A 4B or 6B pencil have their place,
but they are so soft, they get smeared way too easy.
Start a drawing by sketching lightly. Sketch in the basic shape of the head. Don't start by drawing just the eyes or some other part of the face. Just lay out the placement of the head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth. Make sure the eyes are not crooked. Make sure that both sides of the face are lined up, not lopsided. A good way to do this is to look at your preliminary sketch in the mirror. It will bring out some shocking flaws! Don't be discouraged. This is part of the process. Correct these lopsided weird flaws while your drawing is in the light sketch phase. It's much harder to erase and correct when you've drawing in dark lines. Now is the time to get all the little problems ironed out!
When you are sure that you've got a decent preliminary sketch, (you've checked it in the mirror, etc.) you can now start putting in darker tones. Use a soft pencil, one that will give you a decent dark stroke. Don't just lay in darker tones right off, though - build up to them gradually. Start putting shading and detail in the face. Check the drawing in the mirror periodically, to make sure nothing has gone askew. When you are assured that everything is looking OK, put in your darkest tones!
It is sometimes a good idea to use a "shield" for your hand. Use find a clean scrap of paper to put under your hand, so your hand won't smear the graphite as you draw.
When you are sure you are done with your drawing, put it away for a few days. Then look at it again. After a few days, your mind will clear a bit, and you might see some hidden flaws. Ask for feedback from those around you. Then, when you are happy with your drawing, spray it with a fixative. (Grumbacher and other art supply companies make special sprays that will seal a graphite drawing, so it won't smear.)
Go to my next portrait art newbie page. I discuss things like tracing, your attitude, and taking criticism. >>
My new portrait art site, portrait-artist.org. Portrait art and drawing tutorials, tutorials on color, figure drawing, digital portrait art, and more!
Dick Blick Art Materials (an excellent art & pottery supply store - this place has everything!)
All original content, images and graphics © J.R. Dunster 2001 - 2006
Much thanks to W. Thompson, for the design of my email graphic!