I want to share some secret tips with you that I have learned from my experience. These secrets are better than anything that you could learn at any art school. I will post one tip for you every day. My first 10 tips are dedicated to drawing a perfect charcoal portrait with a reference. I have already worked on thousands of charcoal portraits in my life and I hope my simple hints help you to improve your drawing skills and make your drawing process easier and faster. My tips might sound a little bit weird to you at first but believe me when I tell you they actually work!
These secret tips are intended for drawing a portrait with a reference photo but they can be applied to life drawing, as well.
For the first 10 tips I will be using this beautiful portrait by photographer Christian Steinmetz so I could show you how I use these tricks on a real work.
Tip #1. "To Observe"
Before you start working on a portrait you need a good reference picture. And what I mean by saying "good" is that you should feel this photo. Not always high resolution quality shot can help you. Don't choose a picture of a model just because she is attractive. You should focus on what you can show people through this portrait and what make people feel when they see it.
Once you find a perfect photo don't rush into drawing right away. My secret tip #1 for you is "To Observe". Sometimes I spend hours or even days to understand and feel an image. Just let yourself sit and look at it quietly for some time and you will notice so many things that you didn't see before. Your eyes should learn how to study an object and how to notice the unnoticeable. When you practice it for a while you will see the change, because your eyes will be trained so well that even a couple of minutes will be enough for you to catch the spirit of the picture. And yes I'm saying "spirit" because the details of the image can be taken wrong. You can draw a portrait so detailed, but still lose the essence of it. Of course I am not talking about hyperrealism right now when you main goal is to make a drawing the same as a photo.
When you are looking at a portrait try focus on the strong and weak sides of it. Try to explore feelings and emotions that hidden in it. And then decide what exactly you are going to do with them.
Now find an image that you can feel and practice todays tip.