Sunday, June 30, 2019

How to Draw Portraits

In his slim book from 1944 called How to Draw Portraits, Charles Wood offers practical tips on how to draw accurately.

But he doesn't neglect the importance of seeing beyond the surface. He says: "A student sometimes goes for years drawing photographically, copying, faithfully perhaps, but only superficially, and producing drawings which might have been done by any one of a dozen such people. No character, no life."

He describes how he became fascinated by portraits and lighting when he visited a train station as a boy, and saw the firemen working in a locomotive, lit by the warm glow of the coal fire. He tried to simulate the effect back home, using his father as a model.

Portrait sketch by Charles Wood using 3B or 4B pencils
By trial and error he figured out how to light the head, and how to render light and shadow. Gradually he built up the nerve to sketch in public. 

"Fortunately most people like being sketched," he says. "Even in trains and cafés, few people object, but if you cannot bring yourself to sketch in trains, etc., you can make mental notes, and train your mind to observe such things as colour effects or dramatic lighting effects."


He recommends drawing members of your family and friends, and he explains how to get them to pose in natural groupings.



Wood offers closeup details of eyes, noses, mouths, and hands. He says hands denote a person's character almost as much as the face: "Study your sitter's hands, give them something to do so that they do not look as though they have been left lying there in the lap."

This book is one of a series that The Studio produced in the 1940s, including:

How to Draw Portraits by Charles Wood
How to Draw 'Planes by Frank Wootton
Tanks and How to Draw Them by Cuneo



2 comments:

Tomyah said...


Muito bom o seu artigo. Obrigado por compartilhar!
Antonio Pintor

Rich said...

wonderful hands.