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Sketchbook Ideas - Drawing Portraits and Figures

Drawing People - Faces and Figures


Portrait Drawing

Drawing Portraits is a demanding task - the subtle differences that make each human face unique can be a real challenge! Follow this link for some ideas to help with developing and extending your skills - Portrait Drawing Ideas

Figure Drawing

  • Ask friends or family to model arms, legs, heads and shoulders.
  • Use a dark background and directional lamps to create dramatic lighting.
  • Do pages of 'the tricky bits'. Look critically at your work - what do you most need to practice?
  • 'The Body as Landscape' - try doing detailed sections of the figure, with great attention to detail and subtlety of tone.
  • The great tradition of figure drawing and painting can weigh heavily on an artist. What makes a life drawing contemporary? Look at pose, composition, and drawing technique for elements of the modern.
  • Take a look at some old master drawings. Carefully observe their linework, hatching and shading. Copy and make notes about their technique to refer to next time you are in the drawing studio.


Do a series of drawing on the stages of life. You could use photos of the same person, or draw different people from life, or a mix of both. Draw a baby, toddler, prechooler, junior, middle and high school age child, teenager and adult through to old age. What special treatement do the drawings need for each age? Think about color (or the absence of color), lightness or strength of drawing, composition, detail. What changes through each stage? If drawing one person, look for characteristics that remain constant.

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