In This Lesson:
As you complete your block-in, be sure to check the major proportions and positions of the head, face and features before you move on. Review all your major measurements, and use comparative measurements to check distances. Your drawing is easier to adjust now than it will be later, so take advantage of the opportunity to correct errors now.

Get Detailed One-on-One Feedback on Your Drawing...

One-on-one feedback can be an important part of developing drawing skills. Knowing whether you're on the right track, and having a specific sense of where you need to focus can help you develop your skills more efficiently. Our Portrait Drawing Critique Extension is a $100 add-on to the course. Students who purchase the extension will have 4 opportunities during the course to upload their drawing for critique. We'll take a look each time, and record a "screen cast" video critique just for you, upload it to "the cloud" and send you a link via email. Just click on the link, and you'll be taken to your own, private and personalized instructional session.

For more information, or to purchase the Portrait Drawing Critique Extension, just click on the image to the right.


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  1. Hi David, once I finish this course, I want to attempt a portrait drawing of a family member. I would definitely pay to have your critique on this. Would that be possible? Or do you only offer critiques on the model used in this course?

  2. Hi David,

    I’m not the most technical savvy person,
    I’m ready for my critique but I can’t figure out what to do. It says click on the image to the right but I don’t see anything.


    1. Yes, Aisha. Any drawing procedure can help you understand the sequence of steps and concepts involved in achieving a likeness. But your ability to execute those steps, apply concepts and evaluate the size, tilt and position of things will improve only with practice. With repetition, you become better at making judgements, correcting errors, and even spotting errors before you make them because you’ll have a repertoire of past experiences where you made similar mistakes, and you can better see them coming – and remember what worked to fix them.

      Having a procedure is important, which is where a course like this can be helpful. Truly mastering that procedure can come only with practice.

  3. It would be a dream come true if you did a painting course for portraits!!!!!
    Ugh. You are so awesome. Thank you for all this knowledge. I feel like I am getting years of art school in this synthesized drawing course. …

  4. Measuring angles and landmarks, as crazy as it may seem, has proven to be quite difficult for me. Checking and double checking as I go has only shown that my suspicions have been correct and the locations, for the most part, are in a different spot. I am quite confident that much of this is due to the alignment of my pencil with my eye. Not being able to hold the same position with my head, with regard to my hand, appears to be the problem. I will keep working on this until it remedies itself and becomes consistent with all measurements. If you would like to see my first attempt you can find it here

    1. Hi Ray,

      It doesn’t seem crazy at all. Measuring itself is a skill that needs to be practiced like any other. Remember that triangulation is only good for getting things “in the ballpark”. It’s always advisable to supplement with comparative measurements and good, old-fashioned eye-balling. On your portrait, the head looks a little narrow, which I think could be confirmed by comparing the width of the head (including the hair) to the height. Such comparisons can help resolve any problems caused by improperly sighted tilts when triangulating.

  5. I had one question concerning the considerable amount of touching of the paper we do with our hands. Do we have to be concerned about leaving oils from our hands and its effect over time on the paper and portrait. Should we try to place a sheet of paper for our hand to rest on even at this stage?

    1. Richard, it’s a good policy to touch the page as little as possible while drawing. That said, I do it all the time… There are two things to limit the degree of moisture the paper absorbs from your hand: 1) Try not to touch the page at all with the “ventral” surface of your hand – the palm and fingertips. This is where the most perspiration and “oils” come from and will do the most damage. When I rest my hand on the page while drawing, I try to keep it limited to just the knuckles of my ring and little finger. That dorsal surface (back of the hand) is far “drier” and doesn’t cause much trouble when contacting the paper.

      2) As you mention, you can use another sheet of paper laid over top – you’ll see me doing this later in the course. I do this primarily to protect the drawing rather than the paper – to shield areas that I’ve already worked on from getting smudged. That’s really more of a friction issue than an “oils” issue, but it can be destructive nonetheless.

  6. hey david, are the screencast videos offered with the critique extension unlimited as well, or will the viewing link eventually expire?

  7. For checking our block in, I normally look at negative shape and angle that I could find around and out side of the portrait. Is there any problem with this approach?

    1. There’s nothing wrong with using negative shapes. But it only works if the portrait is positioned and proportioned relative to the edges of the page in the same way that it is in the photograph, otherwise, the negative shapes around the outside of the portrait will be different. Part of what I like about the approach of enveloping is that it’s scale-independent, so we’re not required to draw the portrait at any size in particular.