Where To Start Drawing A Portrait Homework

Take 6  - Homework Assignment



Divide your paper into 6 sections. You can divide it in any way you choose. Each section must include one of the following: An eye, numbers, letters, a natural object, a line design, and last section is your choice. Be creative. View the example below.







Elements or Principles - Homework Assignment


 Once you are supplied with a list of the Elements of Art  and the Principles of Design, you are to look at the definitions of each word. Visualize how you would illustrate these words. Pick either the elements or the principles. I have supplied you with several examples.









"IDentity" Collage - Homework Assignment


Collage: An artwork made out of cut or torn materials pasted to a surface.

Rebus:  A puzzle or riddle which words are represented by combinations of pictures & letters. Example:  F (plus a picture of an ear) = Fear.



In your sketchbook, create a unique, think-outside-of-the-box type of collage about yourself. Think about what kind of media (materials) you can combine to represent you - magazine images, photographs, drawings, colored pencils, markers, etc. Add images, text, colors, etc. that give the viewer (me) an idea of who you are, what you like to do, & maybe what you want to be.

 Think about adding words in a different language or even backwards so that you need a mirror to read it. You can even make a rebus letter, with words omitted and pictures in their place.

Ideas to think about:

1.     What is your favorite thing to do?

2.     What is your favorite color?

3.     What are positive things about you?

4.     When is your birthday?

5.     Describe yourself - what is your favorite music, sport, book, hobbies, etc?

6.     How can you use images to tell me about who you are?








Begin drawing out your letter or initials using any type of font. Feel free to review font styles on line. When you are happy with your letter, outline your letter. Lightly draw several lines all over your paper. Try not to go through your letter. In each segment, create a pattern. Each segment should have a totally different design.  If you shade your letter, it looks nicer outside the letter. You can see on the example below the G" is shaded within the letter and it looks fuzzy. 






 Sharpie Doodles





Magazine & Drawing


Find an interesting picture from a magazine. Cut it out. Create a drawing and then glue your magazine clipping.







  Artist Reflection - Homework



 Draw from the artist assigned in your SB. "Copy not to imitate but to understand his/her mind" (Betty Edwards author of the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain). That means you will draw from a drawing or a painting or sculpture of your choice from the artist's work. If the artwork is in color, your copy should be in color. If it is a sculpture, the copy can be in black and white.


Research the artist of the week. " In your own words" important and interesting information about the artists and their work. Start with the basics of who, what, where, and when. In addition, students should write a “response” to the artist’s work.
Add a quote from the artist that is inspiring to you. This should address what you like or don’t like about the work and why, what the work makes you think about, etc.


There should be at least one SB page of research/response for each artist assigned. 

Reflect what you like or don't like about the artists work.

Below is an excellent good example of an artist page. It is creatively planned out with just enough background info that addresses "who, what, where and when, included one or more interesting facts, a drawing from one of his works and has thoughtful reflections.






Free Draw -Homework


 If you are assigned a Free Draw Homework assignment, you are allowed to either do one of your own, or choose from the list below. You should start with a sketch first, but should move onto your good copy once you feel confident that yo have achieved the concept. You can and should hand in the sketch, but will be graded on the actual homework. If there are several Free Draw homeworks assigned, you are not allowed to duplicate any that have been already handed in. Have fun and be CREATIVE!!!!



Sketch Topics 

  • Draw your favorite breakfast.
  • Redesign the existing packaging for a food or beverage.
  • Invent a useful machine.
  • Draw your 3 favorite fruits and vegetables.
  • Draw something you can't stop thinking about.
  • Draw a clown car.
  • Design a mask with a specific emotion.
  • Invent a ridiculous musical instrument.
  • Draw a before & after picture.
  • Design a postage stamp honoring your fav celebrity.
  • Draw your favorite movie character.
  • Draw your favorite book character.
  • Design a creative font for A-Z and 0-9.
  • Illustrate a joke.
  • Illustrate a pun.
  • Draw a portrait of a family member.
  • Design a postcard for a place you have visited or would like to visit.
  • Design the world's fanciest throne.
  • Draw 5 objects with interesting surface texture.
  • Draw a scene that depicts peace.
  • Invent a robot who could replace you for a day.
  • Draw a favorite childhood toy.
  • Make an observational drawing of your toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.
  • Draw something underground.
  • Draw your lego avatar.
  • Fill a page with objects that are your favorite color.
  • Invent a new cereal and design the box.
  • Draw the world's fanciest dessert.
  • Draw your dream career.
  • Draw a scene from a restaurant for aliens or monsters.
  • Draw 9 things that are round.
  • Draw a stack or tower of your favorite things.
  • Draw a large jar and fill it with things you love.
  • Draw 3 people you admire.
  • Draw the book cover for a biography of your life.
  • Draw a snapshot of a dream you have had.
  • Morph your shoe into a monster. 
  • Design a futuristic classroom.  
  • Draw a ridiculous car or airplane.  
  • Draw your hand holding something interesting.  
  • Design an advertisement for a new soda or energy drink.  
  • Invent a new species of bird or insect.  Include an environment.  
  • Design a billboard for a new type of shoe.  (dancing, athletic, gardening, moonwalking, etc.)  
  • Draw a grouping of 3 or more leaves you've collected from the ground. 
  • Draw a hidden talent you have or would like to have. 
  • Draw your greatest hope or fear. 
  • Draw a scene from an underwater carnival. 
  • Create an Illuminated Letter.
  • Draw a rescue scene.
  • Draw a scene from the cafe.
  • Draw something from a Bird's Eye view.
  • Draw your favorite healthy food next to your favorite junk food.
  • Draw an animal that represents your personality.
  • Draw a scene from the circus.  Include a background.
  • Make a Surreal Hand drawing.
  • Draw the inside and outside of a UFO.
  • Design a disguise for your favorite celebrity.
  • Draw a face filled with your favorite foods.
  • Design a ridiculous pair of shoes.
  • Draw 5 things that remind you of Autumn.
  • Draw your favorite leisure activity.
  • Draw yourself 20 years from now.
  • Use descriptive lettering to illustrate the meaning of a word.
  • Draw what you are most looking forward to over the summer.
  • Design a room for a futuristic house.
  • Make a detailed drawing of an althletic shoe from observation.
  • Draw a scene from your favorite book.
  • Draw 3 animals combined into one.
  • Draw yourself doing something you do well.
  • Draw 3 inanimate objects that represent you.
  • Design a new mode of transportation.
  • Design a personal logo using your initials.
  • Draw 2 animals that represent aspects of your personality.
  • Draw your home or another building important to you.
  • Design a theme park ride.  Fill the drawing with pattern.
  • Draw something you feel strongly about.
  • Draw a series of overlapping shapes.  Practice layering and blending colors in each space.
  • Use 5 or more types of line to create an unusual portrait.
  • Trace your hand and add 5 or more visual textures.  (Be creative!)
  • Create a 5 step value scale in pencil.  Draw and shade a cube and a sphere.  (Indicate direction of light source.)
  • Draw a surreal landscape.
  • Draw a tennis show from observation and color with a monochromatic, analogous, or triadic color scheme.
  • Design your dream home.  (use perspective!)
  • Make a detailed drawing of something from your closet. 
  • Draw a scene from an "unusual" pet show.
  • Design a ridiculous machine.
  • Draw something from nature.
  • Draw a scene from a parade.
  • Draw your favorite meal.
  • Use your initials to design a Personal Logo!
  • Design a futuristic vehicle.
  • Design a costume or disguise.
  • Design a unique/original cartoon character.
  • Design and abstract/bizarre plant.
  • Draw something you are good at.
  • Draw something in disguise.
  • Design a carousel horse (or other carousel animal).
  • Draw a scene from a car wash (the more bizarre/unusual, the better).
  • Draw something with an extreme close up.
  • Draw a scene from a supermarket.
  • Create a unique superhero or villain.
  • Draw a creature that hasn't been discovered yet.
  • Draw someone you admire.
  • Design a poster for your favorite movie.
  • Illustrate a song.
  • Draw your favorite junk food from observation.
  • Draw something you are scared of.
  • Draw something you do in warm weather.
  • Make a detailed drawing of a favorite sport or hobby.
  • Draw a piece of furniture or an appliance with a face and personality! Don't forget to add a background!
  • Create a planet and an alien that lives on it! 
  • Illustrate a Famous Saying or Quote. 
  • Make a detailed drawing of something that moves.
  • Design a "non-traditional" hot air balloon.   (Hint: design a creative and unusual shape!)
  • Draw a room without gravity.
  • Complete the Puzzle.  Finish a drawing that incorporates a magazine scrap.
  • Make a detailed drawing of the inside of something.  (Must be from observation, not imagination!)
  • Draw an interesting object from 3 points of view.  (Draw an object 3 times from three angles.)
  • Design a hideout or a place you might go to have some privacy.  (Be creative and use lots of detail!)
  • Make a Detailed Drawing of a Shoe.
  • Fill a page with 'expressive' lines. (A.k.a. organized doodling!)
  • Draw a favorite childhood game, toy, or memory.
  • Design and color a poster idea (or advertisement) for a new amusement park!
  • Design the logo for the Waunafest T-shirt.  The theme is "A Weekend in the Country" and should be patriotic to honor our Armed Forces.  Can be hand drawn or computer generated.
  • Draw what you are most looking forward to over the summer.
  • Draw your favorite animal combined with your favorite food.
  • Draw three kitchen utensils in an interesting composition.
  • Design and color an advertisement for a new candy named after yourself.
  • Draw something that plugs in (from observation, not memory).
  • Complete a blind contour drawing of a hand, face, or bare foot.  Then, using colored pencils, add color to the drawing so it illustrates a specific emotion.
  • Make a detailed drawing from an ant's point of view. 
  • Draw and color an unusual object melting.  (Cannot be an object that would normally melt like ice, ice cream, snow, etc.)
  • Design and color an original CD cover.  The band can be real or imaginary, but you may not copy any existing logos or designs!)
  • Design and color a vehicle that works on land, in water, and in air.
  • Draw and color something you might see through a keyhole.


Observation about today’s session: Based on the output from today, it may seem like today’s drawing was the most technically challenging. But, in fact, I found just the opposite.

Because I spent the past two days meticulously locating and blocking in the features, it was very easy to add the incremental detail. (Trying to draw big shapes is much harder than trying to draw little shapes. Little shapes are a lot easier to visually understand and replicate)

In fact, I suspect that today was least consequential to the outcome of the portrait. If I mess up the shape of the head and the location of the features, I have very little chance of capturing a likeness. If the features are not quite accurately detailed, but in the right place, I still might have something…

Yesterday, after 7.5 hours of work, I finally finished sketching / laying out my first portrait. Today, I started adding tonal values (a.k.a. “shading the drawing”).

Before I show today’s progress, I want to share two techniques I learned that make it significantly easier to accurately add tonal values to portraits.

1. Start with the most extreme values and then meet in the middle

The human eye is really bad at assessing tonal values in isolation — which is why your brain thinks squares A and B below are very different colors, when, in fact, they are the same.

Thus, instead of relying on visual inferences, tonal values can be better approximated through a simple, not-so-interpretative procedure.

Here’s how it works:

Start by identifying the absolute darkest and absolute lightest areas of the drawing. For the darkest areas, shade them as dark as you can/want. For the lightest areas, highlight them as light as you can/want.

This establishes the entire tonal range of the drawing, which is called the key of the drawing.

Establishing the key is straightforward, and doesn’t require much visual interpretation (i.e. it’s easy to find the lightest lights and the darkest darks).

Once the key is established, and the lightest and darkest values are in place, the intermediate values need to be introduced. Again, this can be done procedurally, by identifying and shading/highlighting the areas which are slightly lighter than the darkest darks and slightly darker than the lightest lights. Continuing recursively in this way, the tonal values eventually meet in the middle, and the drawing (or the relevant part of the drawing) is complete.

2. Squint to better see tonal shapes

When keying the drawing (and developing tonal values in general) it’s important that the shapes of the tonal areas are captured accurately.

In other words, if the highlight on the forehead is angular, drawing it with rounded edges wouldn’t properly capture the form.

This sounds obvious, but again, your brain and visual system can play tricks on you. Your brain is attempting to see a face (via your psychologically skewed, emotions-based mental model of a face), and not just tonal blobs.

In fact, this psychological problem of misinterpreting faces is so common, there are entire drawing systems (like drawing upside down, drawing the negative space around the face, etc.) designed to combat these problems.

Side note: Here’s a video of Derren Brown, the subject of my portrait, when he used to have hair, experimenting with some of these alternative methods of painting. It’s a pretty cool trick.(If you’re going to watch, stick it out until the end).

In order to accurately see tonal shapes, and avoid psychological errors, I’ve found one method to be surprisingly successful: squinting.

Basically, you look at the area you want to draw, squint your eyes (so the image becomes blurred and your brain no longer sees a face), and identify the tonal shapes you see through your eyelashes. This works super well. (I didn’t invent this method, I’ve just validated that it works for me).

Today’s progress

With these techniques newly-learned, I began to add tonal values to my Derren Brown portrait.

First, I started with the eye.

In the course, the teacher mentioned that it’s good to start with a small area that exhibits the full range of tones.

However, the eye was too small to help effectively establish the key. So, I keyed the drawing more aggressively, starting with the shadow on the nose and the highlights on the forehead and cheek.

I continued shading the darkest areas along the right side of the face.

Additionally, while doing this, to check the accuracy of my key, I started developing the eye.

I finished up my key, by adding shadows to the lower face and the back of the head, and was ready to begin modeling the form (finding the intermediate values between the darks and lights).

I started with the forehead.

Added a bit more detail.

And then smoothed everything out.

This is where I stopped for the day, after another 2.5 hours of working.

Derren looks a bit too shiny right now — a bit like a mannequin or the Tin Man — but I’m optimistic that this effect will vanish once I model the rest of the form.

I’m guessing I have another 5 hours of work left on this.

Today, like yesterday, I continued adding tonal values to the portrait. I spent a little less than two hours, and am getting really excited about the results.

Here’s where I stopped yesterday.

I proceeded today by first addressing the nose.

Then, I addressed the right half of the face — further developing the shadow.

Next, I moved on to Derren’s hair and beard.

Since the demo portrait in course is based on a long-haired female model, I had to do a bit more freestyling at this point. I think it works.

I continued with the upper part of the beard, and finished up for the day.

Tomorrow, I need to finish the mouth, the ear, the neck, the lower part of the beard, and perhaps the clothing.

Getting close…

Today, after another 2.5 hours of work, I finally completed my Derren Brown portrait.

In the coming days, I will write a few detailed posts about what I’ve learned, how I plan to move forward, etc., but for now, I’ll just share the final photos of my progress.

Today’s progress

I started off by detailing the lips.

Then, I added the mustache.

With this facial hair momentum, I finished off the beard.

Then, the ear.

Finally, I completed the neck, decided not to address the clothes, signed it, and I was done.

For my first portrait of the month, I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

Nine days ago, I began my 30-day quest to learn how to draw photorealistic portraits. Since then, I’ve watched the entire 10 hours of the Vitruvian Studio drawing course, as well as spent 14.5 hours working on my first portrait.

Here’s the result…

And here’s a video documenting the progression.

Considering where I started only nine days ago (see the before portrait), it’s hard for me to believe that I actually drew this. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely excited about the outcome.

Part of me lacks the motivation to continue drawing, as I feel like I’ve already accomplished my goal. The other (more overpowering) part of me realizes that I have another 21 days to improve even further, so that’s what I plan to do.

In particular, I’m going try to reduce the amount of time necessary to complete a portrait like this. With some practice, I think I can reduce my time down from 14.5 hours to 4–5 hours.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go through my previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and write up a “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet”. Then, I’m going to break down the cheat sheet into isolated, practicable skills and drills, work on those individual skills for 1–2 weeks, and then start working on my self-portrait to finish off the month.

Here is my “Portrait Drawing Cheat Sheet”, which features step-by-step instructions on how to draw a portrait.

These steps are based on the excellent portrait drawing course by Vitruvian Studio, which I highly recommend you purchase if you are serious about learning how to draw.

The Instructions

  1. Mark the top of the head. Arbitrarily draw a line towards the top of the page. This represents the top of the head.
  2. Mark the bottom of the chin. Arbitrarily draw a line near the lower third of the page. This represents the bottom of the chin.
  3. Mark the notch of the neck. On the subject, using your pencil as a guide, measure the distance from the lowest point of the head to the notch of the neck. Determine how many of these distances can fit inside the vertical distance of the head. Use this is as guide to draw a horizontal line towards the bottom of the page to represent the notch of the neck.
  4. Find the highest point of the head. Arbitrarily determine a point on the top line. This represents the highest point of the head. Often, on the subject, this point sits far back on the head.
  5. Find the lowest point of the chin. Using your pencil as a guide, determine the angle from the highest point of the head to the lowest point of the chin. Draw a line at this angle from the highest point of the head (as marked on the page) down towards the bottom of the chin line. Draw a dash where these lines intersect. This intersection represents the lowest point of the chin.
  6. Find the leftmost boundary. Identify the leftmost boundary on your subject. Determine the angle to this leftmost point from the highest point, and draw a line at that angle from the highest point towards the leftmost boundary on the page. Do the same from the lowest point. Draw a marking where these two lines intersect. This intersection represents the leftmost boundary. The technique used to find this boundary is called triangulation.
  7. Find the rightmost boundary. Again, triangulate from the highest and lowest points to find the rightmost boundary of the head.
  8. Check the angle. On the subject, use your pencil to find the angle between the leftmost and rightmost boundaries. Check if this angle matches the angle represented on the page. If not, retriangulate and check again.
  9. Draw the outer-boundary of the head and hair. Triangulate points around the head and connect them with straight lines. Once the general shape seems right, smooth out the kinks. Check the angles between various points on the subject and on the page to make sure everything looks right. If there seems to be inconsistencies, retriangulate and adjust. Do the same for the hair line.
  10. Draw the vertical center line. Pick some central point that looks like its on the vertical center line. Triangulate from outer-points inwards to find this central point. Check the angle from the bottom/center of the chin to this point. Use this as a guide to draw in the entire vertical center line. As the center line approaches the top of the head, it typically flattens, as it rounds back behind the head.
  11. Draw the level of the eyes. The level of the eyes typically falls about halfway between the top and bottom of the head. Use this as a starting point. Draw in this level, and then check angles to confirm. Move up or down until everything checks out.
  12. Draw in the level of the brows and bottom of the nose. If you divide the face length into thirds, typically the level of the brows fall on the upper third line and the level of the nose falls on the bottom third line. Use this as a starting point. Draw in these level, and the check angles to confirm. Move the level up or down until everything checks out.
  13. Draw in the level of the start of the nose. The nose begins somewhere between the level of the brows and the level of the eyes. Gauge where this is and draw it in.
  14. Draw in the bottom and middle of the lips. If you divide the distance between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin into halves, the level of the bottom of the lips typically falls at the halfway point. Use this as a starting point to draw in this level. Then, gauge where the middle of the lips falls relative to the distance between the bottom of the lips and the bottom of the nose. Draw that in.
  15. Adjust the center line for the nose. Starting from the level of the start of the nose, adjust the center line so its angle matches the center line of the nose. Typically this will be in two parts. The angle outwards from the level of the start of the nose to the peak of the nose, and the angle inwards from the peak of the nose to the bottom of the nose.
  16. Adjust the center line for the mouth. The mouth typically has some volume, which pushes the center line forward. Adjust the center line forward below the nose to account for the volume in the mouth.
  17. Draw in the shape of the eyes and eye sockets. Triangulate the corners of the eyes, and then draw in the complete shapes. Do the same for the lids and the eye sockets.
  18. Draw in the shape of the brows. Triangulate the corners of the brows, and then draw in the complete shapes.
  19. Draw in the shape of the nose. Triangulate the peak of the nose and the wing of the nose. Then, draw in the complete shape.
  20. Draw in the shape of the mouth. Triangulate the corners of the mouth. Then, draw in the complete shape.
  21. Draw in the level of the chin. Triangulate the level of the chin, and draw a line to distinguish the shape.
  22. Draw in the shape of the ear. Triangulate points of angle-change around the ear. Connect these points with appropriately angled lines, and then smooth out the kinks.
  23. Draw in shadow shapes. Identify shapes of main shadow areas. Triangulate their boundaries and draw them in.
  24. Darken the shadow shapes. Lightly shade in the shadow areas of the portrait. Use a soft, clean paint brush to smooth out the material on the page. This will introduce some 3-dimensionality to your portrait, which should help you better visualize if anything doesn’t seem quite right. If there is something that seems incorrect, fix it.
  25. Detail the eyes. Draw in the iris, pupils, and other details.
  26. Detail the nose. Draw in the nostrils and other details.
  27. Detail the lips. Smooth out the shape of the lips.
  28. Detail the ear. Draw in some of the main inner land marks.
  29. Key the drawing. Identify the lightest and darkest tones on the subject, and add these tones to the page.
  30. Modeling an area. Pick an area of the head (like the forehead), and detail some of the main places of tone-change. Identify and add in the main light and dark areas. Using a shading stump and the necessary pencils, fill in the transition tones. To better see the shapes of highlights and shadow, squint your eyes until the face isn’t recognizable as a face, but rather a collection of tonal blobs.
  31. Model the remaining areas

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