A question about drawing heads

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  09 September 2007
Cool A question about drawing heads

.....I'm having a little problem with my drawing. I can do a reasonable likeness of a head; given ninety minutes or so. Lately I've been challenging myself; by doing a lot of on-the-spot drawing with a notebook sized pad; or a 4"x5" sketchbook.

.....If anyone has any good tips on learning to do the same quality of drawing; but faster; I'd love to hear it. I think my portraits are good enough to pick up a little cash as a sidewalk Artist; if only it didn't take me so long. But that isn't my main question.

.....I can do a good likeness- a face, I mean- down to about the diameter of a tennis ball; and even a bit smaller. I can't handle a face the size of a quarter; much less a nickel; at all well. At that scale, my faces look only slightly better than a grade schoolers. I know its about scaling; and the broad features- but how? I have trouble with small-sized faces in my paintings too; but oddly enough, with the addition of color; I find it much easier to "fake"- I mean do it crudely; and hope its not noticed.

.....I used to work with a full set of Mechaical Drafting pencils: .3mm; .5mm; .7mm; and .9mm. I used the softest lead that I could find in each size- that varies with the size. I'd come to where I seldom used the .3mm. I rarely needed that fine a line; and if I did; the tiny lead was always breaking. Finally I used the .9mm most of all; with the .7mm a distant second.

.....Recently I've switced to using a Mechanical 2mm; 4B Lead; with it's special sharpener. Its hard to keep a fine enough point for coin-sized facial details. I'm thinking about rotating my .7mm back into the line. I also do some work with Prisma Pencils; and stylus and ink-bottle; but not in church; or sitting on a bench some where.

.....Any hints? Thanks.

  09 September 2007
The first tip and maybe the most important is to just keep practising and over time you will start to speed up.

Another tip, is that I would draw the basic face shape first and then draw the centre line, eye, nose and mouth lines. I personally can draw without the use of guidelines but I still find it speeds up the process as you get an idea of where to place facial features.

When it comes to scaling down faces, there's not much advise I can give you as its never been a problem other than the smaller face is, the simpler it will look.

When it comes to pencils, I don't use mechanical ones, I just use plain old pencils which I sharpen with a scalpel. But the only reason I don't use mechanical pencils is that its a pain to find the different kinds of 0.5 lead such as 3H, 2B. When I initially start any image I use a hard lead such as a 3H which is light on the paper and easier to rub out this also speeds up drawing because you can go wild and not have to worry about the rub marks or lines that HB an B's leave behind, once I am happy with the result I then go to my HB and B's to define the lines and the shading
  09 September 2007
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