Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Drawing tips | How to draw from a photo

Drawing has been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. Drawing helps me take my mind of things and is a great way to relax. A little music, a set of grey pencils and the hours fly by. Some of my friends have asked me if I could teach them how to draw from a photo. The main thing is that you take your time, don't rush it, and look very close to the details, is what I tell them. Here are some more of my tips on how to draw from a photo. I'm not a professional or something, I just like to draw and this is what I learned over the years.

Finding a good photo can make a lot of difference. Search for a large and clear photo so you can zoom in on details. I also prefer photos with more contrast which I explain later in this post.


Using different pencils can make drawing a lot easier. It also gives your drawing more contrast. Here is an example of the different hardness of pencils. It goes from a very hard pencil to a very soft pencil. 9H is a very hard and sharp pencil, but not very black. 8B is very black but it's not a good pencil to draw very sharp lines with. For details I use a pencil from the first row and for shadows I use a pencil from the second row. The one I choose depends on how black that detail or shadow is. When I draw shadows, I also use my finger or an eraser to fade it. If you use your finger, be aware that your finger tips will get black and you'll have to wash your hands every now and then to prevent unintended smudge on your drawing. B pencils are easier to fade with your finger then H pencils. Since a year I have been using Caran D'ache pencils and I have been loving those a lot.

You can start by making a grid of the photo, using photoshop or illustrator for example. This makes it easier to ensure the proportions and layout in your drawing are correct. Even though it makes it easier to make the positions right, it's still pretty difficult and needs some practice. If you want to make sure the parts are on the right place, you can trace the photo. Most of the time I draw faces and when I use this method, I display the photo on an old computer screen and place my paper on top of it and then trace the face, eyes, nose, and mouth and then work out all the details by myself. Normally I start by working out the eyes, then the skin, nose and mouth. I always draw the hair at the end, but it's just what works for you, if you rather start with the hair, start with the hair! :)

Details are very important if you want to make your drawing look real. If you want to draw an eye, it's easy to just draw some lines for the lashes. But look very close, are lashes really just lines? Or do they bend a little? And do they all have the same length and thickness? These are some of the questions you can ask yourself when you look at the details. Putting much details to your drawing takes a lot of time. If you want to make a realistic drawing, take your time, don't rush it. You don't have to finish it all in once. For me, it sometimes takes days to finish a drawing. 

I found out that my drawings look a lot better when I give it more contrast. Contrast is the relation between bright and dark elements. Using pencils with different shades of black is a way to create more contrast. If you use only one pencil you will get less contrast. I always make the photo that I want to draw black and white in photoshop. Then it's easier to see which parts are darker and which parts are lighter. Sometimes I give the photo a little contrast boost in photoshop so you can see the contrast even better. 
Here is an example:

Even if you know all the tips and tricks and have the best pencils, doesn't mean that your drawing will look perfect. On the contrary, I don't think that there is such thing as a perfect drawing. When you're finished, don't compare your drawing to much with the photo. Most of the time when I draw from a photo, the end result doesn't look as much as the photo as I hoped. But that doesn't mean that the drawing isn't pretty. If you want to get better you'll have to practise a lot. Don't compare yourself to much with other's but try to get the best out of what you can. I get my inspiration from other artists but I never try to be better than them because then my drawing will probably end up in thousand pieces in the trash. As a kid this happened, and I wanted to stop drawing because I had the feeling that I would never be as good as the people I looked up to. But then I learned that it's about improving yourself and that if you want to get better, you'll have to practice. If your drawing doesn't look as good as you hoped, be positive, and see it as a step closer to a better drawing. Don't throw it away! If you keep your drawings you will see your progress and maybe in a few years you think: "hmm that drawing didn't look that bad at all" (believe me). And like I said before, drawing is also a way to relax and get your mind of things, not to be the best. Keep that in mind :) 

Here are some of the drawings that I made.
 You can find more of my drawings on my tumblr page or my instagram.

Let me know if this was 
helpful and if I should do more posts like this :)


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