Painting portraits in oils can be challenging as there are many factors to consider, like the colours you choose for the palette, tonal variations in the complexion, techniques for painting hair and lighting. Almost everyone who studies drawing would like to draw portraits one of the biggest problems however is that the portrait should look like the person it represents. Although no two faces are exactly the same, all faces have the same basic shapes. These shapes are shown on the next image.
Important aspects in painting portraits.
Be most careful to observe and study the eyes and the mouth.
Watch the proportion of the eyes to the face, their distance from the nose and their distance from each other.
Check-up on your drawing by holding it before a mirror, you will be surprised how your mistakes will stand out when you see your drawing in reverse.
If you are not satisfied with your drawing discard it and start all over again, always remember we learn from our mistakes.
The Basic Shapes for Drawing the Head
Draw an oval in pencil, for the shape of the head, add a faint line down the middle of the oval and another faint line across the middle. I use the eye as a guide line to the composition of the face by drawing an almond shape for one eye and positioning it on a horizontal guideline, the second eye is positioned an eye’s width apart. For the eye, draw a circle in each almond, for the iris and add an overlapping line for the eyelid. Finally draw a small circle for the pupil and fill it in. Draw the lashes and eyebrows making the pencil lines follow the direction in which the hairs grow. The nose is on the vertical guideline, draw a triangle for the basic nose shape and add three overlapping circles at the base. Outline the circles to make the sides and bottom of the nose and add two oval shapes for the nostrils and fill them in. Draw the bottom lip halfwaybetween the nose and the chin making the corners line up with the corners of the eyes. Draw a flattened out ‘m’ shape for top, middle and lower lip.
Nose and Ear Lesson Plan
Draw the ears, making them level with the eyebrows at the top and the nose at the bottom and add a curved shape inside each.
When drawing the ear be careful about placing it on the right spot and at the correct angle. The ear is placed at the outer edge of the jawbone and the angle runs parallel with the length of the nose. A well drawn ear is a thing of beauty. The curved forms should be very carefully observed and followed. Many a fine study of the head is spoiled by slipshod drawings of the ears.
Noses are of various shapes and sizes. The shape and proportions of the nose ar eextremely important characteristics of every face, so if you want to draw a good likeness, I would suggest to take great pains in drawing the nose accurately.
To draw the mouth, when at rest without any particular expression is simply enough and should not present any special difficulty. It is necessary only to be careful about its proportions and the perspective of its curved surfaces. The mouth is extremely mobile and is seldom lacking in some expression. It can smile or pout, express grimness, anger, pain, pleasure etc.
The best way to study the mouth, eyes, ears and nose and draw it with diverse expressions is to look into a mirror and be your own model.
It would be very easy to draw the human eyes if it were not for the eyelids. The eyeballs themselves are simply spherical shapes set into the eye sockets in a way that permits them to move in all directions. The iris is the coloured disc of the eye which varies in colour in different individuals and has a circular shaped black hold called the pupil in its center. At the inner corner of each eye is the triangular shaped tear gland.
Examples of beginners portraiture.
When teaching students how to paint portraits I start off by taking a photograph of the subject blow it up to the correct proportions of the canvas and then get the student to trace the image onto the canvas thus illiminating the primary problems of proportion, leaving the student to deal with skin and hair tone, eye and lip colour, overall facial features and background image, which is plenty to deal with as a primary portrait attempt. As the students progress through their course I introduce basic shapes and contours of the eyes, nose, lips, ears and facial features and how by using the eye as a measuring tool all the remaining features will allign. This method is very straight forward and easy to comply with children as young as eight creating a very good attempt as self portraiture.