Starting a Sketch Pt 2

Remember when I told you not to be afraid of your freaking weird outline? Here’s why:

The only difference is shading, but the transformation is one of those things you can’t see until it’s complete. Also I see now I should have taken that second picture in better lighting…

Before you begin, it may help to give the picture you’re copying a black and white filter so you can more easily discern the gradient from dark to light.

IMPORTANT – If you are right handed like me, start shading on the left side and work your way to the right to avoid smudging your portrait with the side of your hand.

Work on the eyes first. Spend the most amount of time trying to be painstakingly accurate with the eyes. They’re called the windows of the soul for good reason, and their precision is most important to getting a good likeness.


  1. Make sure to leave a white shine in the iris/pupil – it makes your portrait come to life.
  2. Eyeballs aren’t completely white. They’re susceptible to shadows too.
  3. Shade eyelids and under eyes after the eyeball, and save the eyelashes for last. It’s very easy to go eyelash happy on your portrait, but take it from someone who’s been there/done that: don’t overdo them. If you’re a girl like me, you probably love you some good eyelashes so this will be hard for you. Keep it subtle. trust me.

People may ask when you sign on to do their portrait “leave out my smile wrinkles.” Or “make my face thinner.” DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. Warping any characteristic detracts from your likeness. Here’s where you can insert a cheesy line like, “your flaws are what make you unique! You’re beautiful just the way you are!”

Once the eyes are finished, it should naturally transition into shading the forehead or cheek area.

  1. Shading is easy in concept. Press hard with your pencil when you see dark and ease up where it’s lighter.
  2. Try to follow the shape of the natural contours of the face with your pencil, e.i. rounded cheek or slanted nose.
  3. After the skin has been shaded, all that’s left of the face is the mouth.

dun dun DUN.

  • I have a hate/hate relationship with teeth. My advice to you: leave it to a trained professional.
  • Don’t make the teeth too detailed and PLEASE don’t leave them white or you’ll have a  portrait that may or may not resemble this emoji. 😬 Teeth, like eyeballs, are susceptible to shadows.
  •  Hint at the most important lines and blur it with your finger


The hair should be the finishing touch. Hair, especially curly hair, is not something I can explain. I just have to be in the right mood, I have to feel it. Try thinking swirly thoughts, it always helps me.

As you go, you can use your finger to blend. Just don’t get too crazy with the finger blending or you run the risk of making your portrait look like you smudged dirt all over it. I like to use my finger for the areas like the forehead where I need just a hint of a shading. I also run my finger over the hair after it’s done to give it a smoother look.


the end

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