Demo: How to Draw a Portrait Step by Step

In this demo, we’ll show you how to work with the ready-made grid and gray-scale reference images on this site to produce your own celebrity-inspired portrait masterpiece in no time.

This demo step-by-step portrait of Pink has been redrawn by using the ready-made grid and gray-scale images of Pink from DrawFamousFaces.com.
You can access the full-size original images here.

 

The reference grid image of Pink

The reference grid image of Pink. To help you sketch your favorite celebrities, all images on DrawFamousFaces.com are provided in ready-made grid format for you.

The reference gray-scale image of Pink

The reference gray-scale image of Pink. To help you sketch your favorite celebrities, all images on DrawFamousFaces.com are provided in ready-made gray-scale format for you.

 

In this stage of the demo, we’ll be demonstrating how to copy the shapes and features from the grid image of Pink onto your own grid image on your sketch pad.

Step 1: Set Up Your Grid:

If you have not already drawn your grid, click here for a 2-minute, step-by-step guide on “How to Set Up a Grid”

 

Step 2: Draw a Portrait Using the Grid Method:

When using a grid there are only a few things you have to do to produce an accurate portrait:

  • Focus on the shapes that you see in each individual block.
  • In your mind (or with a ruler and pen on a printout of the grid image), divide each square into 4 quadrants. See the example below.

Identify where each shape sits in relation to the block. Is it in the middle, or top corner or bottom third? Then make sure when you are drawing that you place the shape in the same position on your page.

 

  • Pay careful attention to where each of the shapes are positioned with in each block, and how and where the shapes continue into their neighboring blocks.
  • Pressing lightly with a soft pencil (B or 2B is best), draw the shapes in each block, one at a time.
  • Don’t try to get every detail drawn, just capture the shapes and the shadows.

In this drawing of the eye, you’ll notice it’s not perfectly detailed, but it is sufficient to show the major shapes and the outlines of the highlights and shadows.

 

  • Stand back from your page and compare your sketch to the grid portrait you’ve downloaded from DrawFamousFaces.com.
  • Pay careful attention to the proportions and placement of shapes.
  • If you spot irregularities, make adjustments to your image by erasing your shapes and correcting your lines.
  • Repeat this step as many times as you need to.
  • Getting the foundation right is very important if you want the final product to look realistic.

Pink’s head is sightly tilted in this image. If you look closely you’ll notice her right eye and nostril are slightly lower than the left. It’s important to get these angles correct. Using a ruler, draw directional lines on a printout of the grid image to help you with positioning.

 


A useful tip to keep in mind is to map out the position of shapes using dots at first before drawing lines. This can help to produce more accurate result

  • Your completed sketch of your subject using the grid should plot out all the major shapes and shadows in outline format. You should not begin shading in until you are satisfied that all the shapes are present and in their correct positioning.

 

 The Final Grid Image

This is what the completed grid line drawing looked like. Notice how the shadows have been drawn above the eyes and under the chin.

 

In this stage of the demo, we’ll be demonstrating the various stages of shading in the shapes and tones using the gray-scale image of Pink as a reference.

Step 1: Learning How to Shade in Your Drawing:

If you’re new to shading, click here for beginner’s guide on “How to Shade Your Portrait”

Step 2: Adding Tone & Detail to Your Drawing:

The following images show the progression of this drawing one stage at a time until completion. The full image took roughly 2,5 hours to finish.

Image
Remember to rub out the grid lines in the area you are working in BEFORE you begin shading and adding detail to that area.

 

1. Shading in the Eyes:

You can begin your portrait on any feature, here we begin with the eyes. Notice how the dark areas on the eyelid contrast with the white areas of the eye.

Image
The highlights in the eye determine which direction the subject is looking in, it is very important to get the highlights in both eye in the same position so that your subject does not appear squint. Draw these in lightly to get the positioning correct before you start working in the dark shadows.

 

2. Shading in the Nose & Mouth:

Note the cross-hatching shading in the eyebrows to mimic eyebrow hair. The cross-hatching under the eyes has been softened by smudging with a tissue. The hard edges of the nostril cavities were made first with a sharp F pencil, and then worked over with a sharp 2B pencil. The soft shadows that define the nose and nostrils were made with gentle strokes of a slightly blunted 2B pencil, held sideways, then blended with a tissue.

 

3. Adding Definition to the Chin:

Notice how the top lip and the shadow beneath the bottom lip are darker than the bulge on the bottom lip. The darkest points of the mouth are in the crevices where the top and bottom lips meet.

 

4. Enhancing the Shading & Rendering the Earring:

The chains dangling off the earring were drawn using casual intersecting lines, like a very loose cross-hatch pattern. Notice the shadows under the chin – the clean edge separating the shadow and the chin was made with a sharp F pencil, and then worked over with a 2B. See how this clean edge contrasts with the feathery edge that falls on her neck.

 

5. Rendering the Necklace:

An F pencil was used to sketch out the hard edges of the necklace beads, then a 2B was loosely used over to create the texture.


In this portrait I have used both the grid and the gray-scale images as references to determine which shadows and tones to concentrate on. For example the background and base skin tone were purposefully left white and the dark tones were enhanced for maximum contrast and impact.

 

6. Completed Portrait:

For the hair, basic directional lines were used in combination with long line stokes using the side of a 2B pencil. Cross hatching was used at the temples to show direction and texture. This portrait image took about 2,5 hours to create from start to finish.