Portrait TRACK: Lesson 1, Line & Tone Portraits


Draw 3 sets of 5-10 min. drawings which address line and tone. Include the head and neck.

  • Set 1: line only
  • Set 2: tone only
  • Set 3: line + tone

Aim to draw 12 heads per set, for a total of 36 head drawings.

Prof Lieu, Jordan

Reference Photos

Portraits by Photographers

Charcoal Portrait Drawing, Clara Lieu, banner


Emily, Lisa H., Simpletriskell, Wadalafer, Triplegem, Ashley Tanelle


Practice with our timed drawing videos! Get your drawing supplies and follow along as each pose plays with a timer.

See all the timed videos here.

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Art media

Use any traditional or digital art medium. For traditional media, try to avoid media that don’t allow for a range of widths in your marks, like a mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen.

Drawing media like Conté à Paris Crayons are helpful for the tonal drawings. You can draw with the tip for thin lines and the side for broader strokes of tone.

Gesture Drawing: Portrait Premium Workshop

Supply lists

Visit these pages for specific supply lists: colored pencilconté crayongraphitesoft pasteloil pastel, pencilcharcoal. Explore a comprehensive list of all drawing supplies in Part 1 of our Drawing Curriculum.

Recommended Software

Digital Tool Recommendations list, ProcreateKritaAdobe PhotoshopClip Studio PaintPaint Tool SAIAdobe FrescoMediBang PaintGimp

Hear from an Art Prof Student

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I thought I was bad at facial expressions and I still think they can be subtle and tricky to get right, but I feel a bit more confident with them now.

I know I can build it up, not have to get every line correct right away. I learned that a lot of art is a back and forth, give and take. It’s gonna be ugly before it gets good. Sometimes just getting away from your art for a bit is key.

Jen Noelle
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How to Draw a Profile Portrait

See a drawing demo on how to draw a portrait in profile. Explained are tips for how to create a convincing portrayal of a profile, including what facial structures are important to emphasize.

Techniques for rendering light and shadow to create a convincing portrait are discussed as well. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Jordan McCracken-Foster.

Top 5 Portrait Drawing Mistakes

Here are the 5 top mistakes artists make when drawing portraits. Mistakes such as not addressing the skeletal structure of the face, adding details too soon, starting with the eyes, nose, and mouth, etc.

The reasons why these actions can be considered mistakes are explained and then followed up with simple solutions. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Artistic Anatomy Lecture: The Face

This video explains how to the structure of the head and neck are organized. All of the major bony landmarks are covered, as well as how to identify them on a person.

In addition to explaining how to articulate bones like the mandible, the zygomatic arch, etc., this lecture shows how to group these bones together to create a convincing portrait. Lecture by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Show us what you make!

Mixed Media Acrylic Painting, Lauryn, banner