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Step by step Portrait drawing: How to draw Portraits as a beginner - Tips and Techniques

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

Nothing in this universe works right if you don't choose the right path, and for a good artwork you need to have the right path too, you can't just randomly take a pencil and a paper anytime , start to draw and expect it to turn out good, Even an experienced and professional artist needs the right conditions for the artwork to turn out amazing. Here I'll tell you what steps I take while making a charcoal/graphite portrait and some tips and tricks.

How to draw portraits beginner

The very first thing you need is peace of mind, you need to bring all of your focus towards what you're doing, have a clear picture in mind of what you want on the paper. Analyse your thoughts according to the need of the artwork and choose a place with least amount of distraction and make yourself comfortable. Scroll your Instagram feed or listen to your favourite soothing artist before starting your artwork but remember don't do it to an extent that you no longer have the interest to start the artwork (Yes, we all know that happens xD).

Now I personally prefer to use a grid for making my portraits. I use an app called KeO which is specially designed for artists to simulate there sheets and grid over your smartphone, I use lotus ivory sheets A3(297*420 mm). You can find the app easily on Playstore.

Steps to use the app

1) choose the dimensions of your sheet in the app(in mm)

2) Load the picture of what you want to draw

3) from top left corner choose the length of the grid

Below is the screenshot of the "KeO" app-

How to draw portraits beginner

Then I draw the grid precisely using a clean scale with the length I chose in the app so that the grid on my phone and the grid on my sheet are proportionally same. Use the lightest of your pencils to make the grid so that it's easier to erase it when it isn't needed (Use HB/2B or hard charcoal pencil with minimal pressure)

How to draw portraits beginner

The next step is starting the actual drawing, I then start making the outline of the sketch using an HB /2B pencil according to the grid.

Once the outline is complete I start shading and giving life to your artwork ,Using soft charcoal/6B/8B/10B in darker areas and others in the lighter ones. Thus, the grids play an important role here.

How to draw portraits beginner

Step by step portraits beginner


Step by step portraits beginner

To make a perfect Portrait , one must practice , clearly, it is not a one day game. Try learning basic shading techniques before moving on to portraits.



Tips -

1) always clean your scale before making grid otherwise it would leave marks on your sheet and which is very irritating

2) Always have a spare sheet to keep under your hand while drawing so that you don't smudge anything with the part of your hand in contact with the artwork.

3) Always leave margins before starting your portrait, it is aesthetically pleasing and also saves time and space.

4) Use earbuds and tissue paper/cotton ball for blending if you don't have paper stumps.

5) Always keep multiple erasers because used old erasers may leave marks of charcoal dust on your sheet.

Apart from portraits, I also experiment with other art styles-

Step by step portraits beginner

Step by step portraits beginner

You can connect with me on Instagram @karandraws or email me at

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