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The subject I have chosen for this tutorial is a photograph of the young Mia Farrow taken at the height of her career in the late 1960's.

  • I am using chalk pastels for this drawing and have chosen a light grey mount board with an Ingres finish. ( 'Ingres' means a rough surface for the chalk pastels to adhere to.)

  • The drawing will be tonal rather than in colour. It will be a good exercise for you   as most new art students have great difficulty with shading and tones
  •  These are the four tones I will use:

      Black      Dark Grey    Light Grey    White



Outline the portrait in charcoal taking care to correctly place the angle of the head. When you have completed the correct outline (it may take a few attempts) it will serve as your map and guide.
You can also outline the general shape of background tones.


To add some immediate drama to the portrait, apply all the darkest tones of the portrait with a black pastel or charcoal. The grey board adds a tone so that you will instantly see some depth in the portrait. Be general adding this tone as you can leave the finer details until later.

Adding the darker background tones appear to bring the  head forward.



Now you can add some lighter grey tones in the background, on the hair, face and fur collar.
If your portrait is large, take regular breaks and stand back to view the portrait. This ay you will be able to check the likeness in the portrait at regular intervals.

It is said that getting a likeness in portraiture is like falling in love....sometimes it is there,other time it falls out of your grasp! Don't give up!


For the final touches, add the white highlights  and dark grey tones where appropriate.

On the face, you could blend in some areas with a torchon ( rolled firm paper in the shape of a pencil that  can be renewed by tearing off the top strips) or a cotton bud. If you use your fingers, beware that dark colours may smudge onto other parts of your picture.
You don't have to blend the pastel but if you do, be sparing as the pastel picture will take on an 'unreal' effect.

When you are satisfied, sign the portrait and spray it lightly with fixative or hairspray.

There are advantages and disadvantages drawing portraits from photographs. The advantages are:

  • a photograph is static and never changes in mood ,lighting or tone.

  • the model is always still, never yawning, itching, talking or changing position!

  • the photograph will always be there if the artist wants another attempt!

The main disadvantage is:

  • drawing/painting from a 2D image will produce a 'flat 'image.

Finally choose a good clear photograph for your project preferably taken in natural light or a studio.
A flash photograph is not advisable as the flash causes a large sparkle light in the eye and it lights up all the wrong facial areas.