Learn to Draw People - Introduction to drawing people





People seem to get really scared when they're asked to draw a human face. This is probably because they're afraid that they won't be able to make the drawing look like anybody. Sometimes, even if the person feels that they can draw, they still don't think they can draw people. It's not the person that's hard to draw, it's the likeness that's hard to get. "Likeness" is the quality of the drawing to "look like" the person being drawn. Drawing a "generic" person who doesn't look like anybody that is known is probably a piece of cake for many people, but when they are asked to draw a specific person, that's when they freeze up. Why are likenesses so hard to achieve? I think it goes back to the "logical" mind and its tendency to create "symbols". The picture or "symbol" you have in your head of a human nose doesn't look like the nose that you see on the face of the person you need to draw. The eyes that you have pictured in your head - the same eyes you draw when you just "draw for fun" - don't look like the eyes of the person you need to draw. So what you need to do when drawing portraits, is the same thing you need to do when drawing anything else: You need to lay your "symbols" aside and draw what you REALLY see.

I think there are three ideas that need to be understood in order to make a decent portrait: Proportion and perspective, drawing accurate contours, and creating accurate shading. We'll look all three of these ideas in this drawing people section.

A major consideration that comes into play in drawing portraits is proportion and perspective. To achieve a good likeness proportion is vital. If the person's eyes are too close together, or if the mouth is too large, the drawing will not look like the subject. So to get correct proportions, you're going to have to use your skill of measuring objects with your pencil. You have to be really observant in your measurements, too, because your own mind is going to really be fighting you and trying to trick you. In portraiture you really have to draw what you see, and trust the measurements you take regardless of what your mind tells you is "correct".

These lessons on portraiture are going to concentrate heavily on proportion and measurements and less on actual drawing technique, which is covered in detail in DRAWING BASICS. I'm going to be giving you some general guidelines on facial proportions and typical measurements for the human form. All of these guidelines are for typical or average faces. Since no one is one hundred percent "average" or "typical", the measurements you take for your drawings are going to be slightly different than the ones I give here, but these ideas will give you general rules about proportions and measurements.

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