Pencil Portraits – 3 Biggest Mistakes

Pencil drawing is a favorite past time of many people. The difference between an amateur looking pencil portrait and one that is more realistic all boils down to 3 big mistakes that happen quite frequently to beginning artists. The distinguishing difference revolves around the treatment of the eyes, nose, and the mouth and teeth. With…

Pencil drawing is a favorite past time of many people. The difference between an amateur looking pencil portrait and one that is more realistic all boils down to 3 big mistakes that happen quite frequently to beginning artists. The distinguishing difference revolves around the treatment of the eyes, nose, and the mouth and teeth. With a few well taught and applied techniques your portraits can come alive.

Expert artist, Christopher Sia, gives many valuable tips in his Pencil Portrait Home Study Course, but the three biggest mistakes all have to do with proportion and perspective of the facial features, and the contours created with shading techniques.

The first big mistake involves drawing eyes. It is one of the most difficult feats to accomplish. While it has said that the “eyes are the windows to the soul”, most amateurs are limited in their ability to make the eyes in their portrait jump off the page. The result is usually very flat, two-dimensional at best, and staring rather liberelessly. The key is in the shading to give the eyes dimension. Also critical, according to Chris Sia, is to pay attention to the variations within the iris, the center of the eyeball. By the way, the iris is oval, not round, as most people draw it. Wrapping the eyelid around the eye is also crucial to producing a realistic portrait.

Next, consider how to capture the shape of a nose. Rather than outlining the entire nose, start at the bridge, the space between the eyes, and starting shading in the nose with the side of your pencil for a more realistic. Shade lightly and add darker shading as you work your way down and round it off at the tip. Later, you can add freckles or pores in more detail that you observe in your photograph model.

Finally, one of the biggest mistakes, yet easiest to correct, is failure to give the lips texture. Even the most beautifully shaped lips have small lines in them. It is best to begin with a light outline of the lips and the teeth to help establish the proportions and placement. The corners of the mouth should line up with the center of the eyes. Then, again use shading techniques and drawing in tender lines, illustrating the texture with light and dark shadings.

I highly recommend Chris Sia's home study program which provides valuable tips and exercises to gain mastery over these critical areas and help to draw realistic portraits .