Sunday, 21 March 2010

Download My tutorial in its original Form

You Can get it Here: Please let me know what you think, thank you very much!!


above is the last stage in the drawin that i shall show you as im am currently working on this piece. I shall put it one once completed... Below are some useful links to working with hair!!

Please can you email to let me know what you think and/or if this tutorial helped. I am wide open for criticism and wish to learn from my mistakes etc. If you want to know more about me check out my deviant art or add me on Facebook ill be more than willing to answer questions by any of these methods. I am also on under the username wjlacey, Behance, Creative Stem, Artpapa, Wetcanvas etc. Should you wish to contact me on Face book, search my name Wesley Lacey, from Sheffield England... Thank you Very Very Much!!!

To do the lightest parts of the skin, don’t just leave the part black. There are no perfect white pars on a work other than a highlight. Even then, some of the highlights can sometimes be not fully while. Try not to use an eraser to lighten the parts after going dark. First work up in layers until you get your desired value. Should it be way too light, then refer to using the eraser, but only use in emergencies, an if you’re going slow, this shouldn’t be too much to worry about... the reason i say this s because i have found that erasing never seems to leave the part you erased the same. I alters how the graphite interacts with page.

To draw lips there are many different ways. To my immediate right, is a crop of one of David Kassan’s drawings, and bottom right is Armin Mersmann’s. Both done very differently. Kassan has blended them in to make them appear much softer, and once again, sometimes less is more in terms of details. Both are women’s lips, maybe Armins being slightly less flattering. However something you notice on both... there are no lines. They haven’t drawn any lines to show wrinkles. They have rendered them in and felt the surface. That is something many people fall into the trap of... they se a wrinkle and draw it as a line, however its not a line at all, its where light doesn’t hit. If the light is coming from above, as in these two, the upper lip will cast a shadow over the inner part of the lower lip, and once again a shadow more subtle on the lower part of the lip, which curls around an faces away from the light. Studying light falling on a sphere will really help yur understating on this.

As I have already stated, this game is all about patience. Also perseverance. And great work ethic. Just as muscles only increase when you push them beyond your normal limit, to get better at anything you have to push and learn. You have to envelop yourself in what you’re doing 100%, and be present to the moment. You have to feel the skin and bumps. The surface and the hair. Where the light hits and the darks begin. You simply cannot work and get better by simply going through the motions.

Here (in the two images right) I have just carried on doing more mini drawings within his cheek. Like for example. The pupil... it’s easy to draw a black circle and a grey part around the inside, but you have to try and feel its 3-dimentionality. It’s a lenses and the pupil isn’t a 2-dimentional circle. With a black line round the edge. You have to work the image out as well as look at your references.

The light is coming from below as you can see, and very close to his face. I used a strip light (the kind you see on ceilings) which has made the highlight in his eye rectangular, but have tried to form the highlight round the near spherical boll of his eye. (Visual explanation below).

The Iris should be dead in the centre of the pupil and the pupil on the eye ball.

Next I thought I would add in some sort of surface crack so you can see also how it can be done. First I drew the line how I wanted, not very realistic however, as many rocks split differently so it would be up to you to research. In the mean time keep working in the mid-tone by layering up.

  • Work the line in and try envisioning from where the light is coming from so that you can imagine where it might hit the edge. Seen as in this drawing, the light is coming from the upper left therefore the light would be on the side of the crack facing the light which happens to be the bottom right side of the line in this drawing.
  • I know the references may not be perfect, however, can you notice that the centre of the large circle is smoother? What I did was lay down the graphite but lightly drawing shading in on direction then blending in one direction, this gives a smooth effect. I used a cotton bud to do this. I also wanted to have the middle lighter.
  • Below is a small diagram of the unfinished work. It’s to try and show you where the light source is coming from. This is the reason I used circles as it is easier to see where the lines from the light source, kiss the edge of the circles drawn. The lightest part of the highlights are the ones in the centre of the two meeting the edge, (here shown as a black dotted line) this is because it’s the small part which is directly facing the light source.
  • As you can see with those dots i drew earlier, i have begun to tirn them into three dimentional lumps. Obviously the larger the detail is, the more detail it will hold.

  • And lastly, just finishing off small details, rounding off edges a little and refining parts.

Drawing a Pits and pours etc (Details)

Ok so this takes a little bit of understandings. Right is a quick simple visual explanation of what you do. As we know, skin isn’t like we see in magazines movies of ‘perfect’ soft skin. Even babies have blemishes and moles, funny hairs that don’t seem to fit into its surroundings. Airbrushed skin is what I would call an invention for flattery. Mainly to flatter women. Do you think Nicole Kidman would be happy if she had a big juicy spot one day and the photographer ‘left it in’? She would probably want to sue the guy (or lady).

Many artists work in the realm of drawing airbrushed looking skin. The realists who study in Ateliers and classical training art schools for example don't draw every knuck and cranny and pit and pore, however that’s a completely different kind of work all together in my opinion.

  • Step one- (image right has had to be darkened and altered to be able to be seen on this monitor). I’m just going to show you some shapes in a basic for so that you can get the idea. First lay down a very light outline of what you want to do. In this case I’m doing two circles. One will be a hole, and the other will be a circle with a kind of gap around.
  • I am using a continuous circulism technique for the back ground, just continuously drawing little interweaving connected circles without taking off my pencil.
  • Build up layers rather than going straight for your chosen value.
  • Next add the darkest darks and leave the lights black, therefore you are distinguishing the darkest and lightest part with a mid-tones for the base.
  • Work in slightly darker areas around the highlights, this will enhance their brightness on the page.
  • To add small pours, which could be used for skin, rock, rough wood, or whatever else you could find the techniques to work with. This is one way, next to a little dot of light you may have left by accident on the paper; draw a dark spot next to it, on the side of the mini light spot as where the direction of light is shining. For example, if you want it to be a bump coming out, draw the dark spot where a mini shadow would be cast. Or you can draw a spot onto a mid-tone and erase a highlight using you putty eraser.

Next, get the A3 photographs. Now, there are many ways in which you can begin to get your image down on paper. Some people use the grid method, some sight size and some comparative measurements. It’s totally up to you. Use whichever way you find works best for you. If you’re going to be doing the work much bigger than the photograph, using a grid can sometimes speed things up however you’re missing out crucial parts of the learning process.

A good way to get your out lines is to ‘block in’, where you simplify the shapes, and go from the general to the specific, slowly and carefully narrowing your straight bold lines down to little details. Once you have your outlines, or the vital info you wish to possess you are ready to begin!

Many artists tell you to work from left top to bottom right, when using this method of drawing; however I usually start with the eyes and work outward. The aim of these techniques is to finish an area completely before moving on.

The way to do this is to build patience. A nice way to look at it is to spend a few hours or maybe a full day, or even a week, doing this one part. Imagine you’re doing lots and lots of tiny little drawings. Rather than just one big one. If you adjust your psychology into seeing it as a little abstract drawing in itself, you are more apt to feel like you have accomplished something today. Maybe you may spend all day doing an inch x inch mini abstract drawing that will eventually amount to a large piece. However, if you see it as, you’re doing one large piece and you have spent all day and only done a wrinkle on his eye, you may feel disheartened and slow. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of getting so excited when you see the face popping out at you and rush. This will lead to the work looking rushed, and believe me, having rushed my work through excitement many a time in the past, it leaves you with a feeling of having just cheated yourself out of an extremely good learning opportunity.

A good way to do the skin around the eyes is to not just look at the photo and copy everything on it. Get a mirror, observe your own eyes, and trust me it’s the next best thing to real life. Play with lighting on your face. Photo’s can be extremely limiting in terms of creativity so try to get the best you can from what you have got. Observe the details on your face and how the light interacts with them. Try to feel the underlying muscles, the texture on his face. There is so much more to this than just copying what you see. When you see a large pour for example, feel its indentation with your mind’s eye.

Tip: To avoid leaning on your work in progress, we have to take extra care by using some simple extra pieces of inventory. In painting, quite often, a Maul Stick is used. This is because you cannot rest your hand on your work surface for pretty obvious reasons... you will smudge and ruin the work. With pencil, you may, use a Maul Stick, should you wish too, and would be best if you’re working on an easel or some sort of vertical stand. However, when doing pencil work, a piece of paper good enough to cover your hand will suffice. Many people use tracing paper. I have tried both and not really noticed any kind of difference. As long as you take care and lift the piece of paper when you’re done with it (without scraping your nails and fingertips into the paper. Bending a corner which would make it easier to grab would work.

Beginning the Drawing

Generalized Lines Red- very simplified, Green more worked in

Reference Photo

OK, so the first thing you could be doing is to bother shifting all of the equipment out of the way again which could potentially leave my fingers dirty, and lead to messing up my nice clean sheet of paper. I would say, take your time setting up carefully, if you’re using a large wooden board like mine, get everything out of the way and lay it down flat on a table. Now either slowly all of your equipment, you will hopefully have seen the items I use to work with, however it is totally up to you, though I would highly recommend using a pencil ;).

Gathering a Reference:

So, photographs. I usually use a Digital SLR however I have used a normal digital camera before to work. Along with television magazines and ordinary photographs. I will usually jot down the kind of image I would like, by using my sketchbook to very roughly scribble in a kind of composition and put a few notes next to it. I have usually then got a vague idea in my head to which I know what to do next. Then I will go to the person I wish to photograph and ask them to pose in the kinds of ways in which I pictured. I will take around 50- 100 photographs using all different kinds of lighting from all different angles, altering expressions or what they are wearing and how they may be posing.

Next, I take the photographs to a pc and choose the ones I feel work best. I usually take around 3 or so to work from as some photographs can be distorted or lack certain details that another may have caught. Then I will often, but not always, put the three into Photoshop and play about with the contrast and brightness. Sometimes sharpening them a little to bring out the details.

Lastly, I print them off. Usually on A3 Paper, some in colour and some in black and white.

Drawing: A Portrait

OK so here you are, about to be taught (hopefully) how to draw your own portrait. The methods that I shall be using are ways in which I have been working over the last few years or so and have found to be a solid way to do a Portrait. What I have done is compiled bits of knowledge, from all over. The internet, friends, family, video’s and of course experience. This is a first for me and have never attempted to teach anybody before but I am more than willing to try.

The techniques I will be using are by no means classical, in the way you would go to an art academy and sit down drawing from the life model and casts, using charcoal and eventually paint etc, the techniques I will be teaching bring the best out of you in only a few places, so limiting your study to this one tutorial is suicide, should you want to become an artist. There are many, many amazing places out there to study, schools, Universities, Art Academies, Apprenticeships etc and many upon many different methods of getting similar results.


Gathering idea’s for me has always been a thing I enjoy. To sit down with a sketchbook and play with this and that, shifting things, arranging compositions etc. Many beginners go about this part of the work very ineffectively. They sit down with a blank sheet of paper or a black sketchbook and go... right now, err... I’ll do this line here? No, no, no. I know, I like pirates, ill draw a pirate... what do they wear, arghhhh, how do I make him look like a pirate...

Sitting down and putting yourself on the spot is never the best way about creating work, and anyway, the idea’s and work will develop and change anyway. Do you think when Da Vinci did the Mona Lisa; he just sat down and went; now I will draw a woman. You firstly start of by inspiring yourself. I find, looking at the internet at images, going to galleries, taking walks or talking to people helps. The original idea may usually come from some kind of philosophical though I may think one day and write down and feel that I would like to do a work about that one day... but say that was what you wanted to do, sitting down and just looking at the quote won’t always work, so to inspire yourself is a must.

This can be done in many ways. Take for example, a stone wall. It maybe a school playground wall on your road, I don’t know, but if you look closer, there is a whole other world on that wall. There are strange mosses, with many different colours, the textures of the stone and the cement holding them together. There is the light which may be hitting it in a certain way. But one thing I have noticed on stone walls is there are always tiny holes where spiders live, little circular cob-webs with a giant hole in the centre leading to a hole in the wall... ooo, what may lurk there. The light might be hitting the wall in a way that casts a small shadow over the hole, which could give it a creepy atmosphere. Begin to imagine what might be in the hole, turn it into a small fantasy story, maybe there are tunnels weaving in and out that stop off at little holes within the wall which can’t be seen from outside, a sort of spider corridor and inside these little holes is a spider family, with a lamp and a newspaper Ha-Ha.

Ok so maybe you don’t (like me) wish for your work to be in that particular direction, but man, it gets your blood flowing. Maybe you want to rush home and draw what you imagined. Maybe you might meet an amazing person who had such an impact on you and such a loving personality. How could you show this in her face? What kind of mouth has she got and how is she using it to give loving signals. The kinds of cloths she wears, again, maybe a sunset is hitting her moist eyes and make her look even more beautiful and amazing. The sky’s the limit!!!


Unless you have had some amazing training or you have been training all your life. It’s often hard to express these emotions without technical skill. Therefore, in aiding my early studies, I have had to become quite reliant and photographs, as I don’t have enough money to go to life drawing sessions. But more importantly, this kind of work requires you to spend so long on the work that drawing from life would be very difficult anyway. However, if you are able to, I recommend that you work this way as much as possible.


There are people who have heard of this and some who haven’t (in the art world). It was made more popular by Maggie Toole in 1992, for which is a technique she used for pencil crayons. It is a way of making a certain mark which can be said to be related to pointillism. In pointillism, you simply use dots. Thousands upon thousands of dots, using in a way to make tone and texture. One famous artist who uses a form of this is chuck close, who used the techniques in his photorealistic works. Circulism relates in the way that you use tiny circles which are then interwoven and gradually layered up to create not only tone very accurately but varying textures. It said to be perfect for realistic skin textures. This is a technique which I have been using for a while now and have found to be very reliable. The best thing I feel I pulled out of it was that it helped me learn about patience. To not hurry your work. If you hurry and rush this technique it will backfire enormously, your work will look scruffy and very amateur. Taking your time with your work is critical. Ok so Rembrandt had amazing work which were said to be completed in a few minutes, maybe even seconds! But that sounds all good and great, however he first learned slowly, spending many, many years practicing his craft until he could do it this quickly. ‘Learn diligence before speedy execution’. (Leonardo Da Vinci).

Works you may wish to see which may blow you away which have been done using the Circulism technique are of Armin Mersmann’s. His work is staggering. Not a bit like academical work, it has a flavour all of its own. Should you look carefully at his work you will see it is not photorealistic but almost real. His work astounds me and is a truly inspirational man. And should you wish to see what patience amounts to, he is a walking example. Some of his works can take a year or so, spending hundreds and hundreds of hours on one piece.

Some people use this technique rigidly, and do the absolute entire piece with it, however, words from the master himself –

Drawing in circular strokes should just be one of many patterns and mark making techniques that you as the artist should master. Personally I love the affect it gives but I not to let it dominate or take over a drawing but use it when needed.


Links (Circulism Related):

Armin Mersmann Homepage

Circulism- Wikipedia

One of the best ways to keep your wood-cased pencil sharp is to not use pencil sharpeners. I most often use my mechanical pencil, however, I found on my visit to Italy last year to the Angel Academy Of Art, which is an amazing classical atelier, that they sharpened their pencils, by;

  1. Firstly, holding your pencil with a firm grip, use a knife, (craft knife may be best) and cut away the wood, about two thirds of an inch down leaving that much ‘lead’ showing (figure I).
  2. Then next, grab a piece of sandpaper (fine would be best) Using a tray or something to catch the graphite powder, begin to sharpen the edge of the pencil. The aim is to taper the lead from the wood to the tip and not just the tip of the lead. I could do with a lot of practice with this myself; however here are some images of the process (figure ii). Also, the powder can then be swept up for storing or using on the work your about to do (figure iii). Graphite powder is amazing for backgrounds or covering large parts of the paper with a nice even tone.

Using a tray or something to catch the graphite powder, begin to sharpen the edge of the pencil. The aim is to taper the lead from the wood to the tip and not just the tip of the lead. I could do with a lot of practice with this myself; however here are some images of the process (figure ii). Also, the powder can then be swept up for storing or using on the work your about to do (figure iii). Graphite powder is amazing for backgrounds or covering large parts of the paper with a nice even tone.

Full Equipment List (that you will actually use):

  1. This is my leather chamois which is a cloth, usually used by window cleaners and the like, but it can also be used for a tool in drawing. I usually use it for the background, as if I’m doing a plain background; I find it pretty tedious at times. It blends well and leaves a nice texture on the surface of the paper.
  2. This is my only 0.3mm mechanical pencil as I don’t use it very often. It’s for small details.
  3. My B Mechanical pencil, probably the most used of the lot.
  4. My 2B mechanical pencil, used for the darks. Goes dark enough for me most of the time.
  5. My H Pencil, good to use as a tool for layering down the graphite.
  6. 2H Pencil, one of the second most used pencils
  7. 4H Pencil
  8. Blending stump
  9. A 4B pencil, for the darkest parts, but not widely used.
  10. Cotton buds. These are just your ordinary ones which you will probably have in your bathroom and can find them in any chemist ECT. They are good for tight spaces when you’re blending and give a much softer feel and look in comparison to the blending stump.
  11. My Craft knife, used for sharpening pencils and also erasers, trimming paper, just a nice handy tool to have around.
  12. Kneaded eraser (Saying Hi!)
  13. Pencil Sharpener (pretty basic though)
  14. Just a new Putty rubber/ Kneaded eraser.

Tips: You could go out and spend hundreds of pounds on a special drawing table or a cheap drawing board, but I strongly recommend you make one yourself. Seriously, this isn’t hard to do. You get a large piece of wood (board), I used Strong thick plywood as its really strong and affordable and quite light. Then you just simply cut it out, this can be done with a manual saw or machined, or maybe you are lucky enough that the biggest size paper you feel you would use fits the measurements which have already been cut out to sell. I find that it’s straight enough. I did a little sanding, but I suppose to clean up the newly cut wood a little, just sand, round the edges a little and maybe varnish it, or whatever you want. But it cost me seriously 4 pounds. A good large drawing board made from plastic in an art shop can usually cost around £40-60 pounds and a drawing table starting from around £200.


Your Workspace is you home, it’s where you create art, and where you experiment, and often where brilliant ideas come to life. You don’t need one of these as a particular space; however a space which you will most commonly be producing work is required. This can be anything from your bedroom on your bed as I am doing in the photograph on the left, out in the wild, like Plein Air painting or sketching, in a coffee shop, or anywhere. Most of those places however are good places of producing visual notes and sketches for the ‘final’ work. With the type of work we will be doing in this tutorial, it will require you spend many hours working, and so it is good to have a more permanent place.

I would recommend that you make this place your own, free from distraction like televisions and the like, somewhere where you can switch into the zone. Should distractions arise, try and find some way of turning them to your advantage, a different way to look at them, which in return leaves you with a stronger inner strength which means it will be easier to get into the zone. Make it comfortable and relaxing, sitting on a small plastic chair and holding your drawing on your knee bent over at a funny angle for many hours will be terribly uncomfortable. I would make it a ritual to clean up after working, as if you make a massive mess, it may prevent you from getting started straight away the next time, and the last thing you want is to spend half an hour cleaning even before you get to ‘work’.


Erasers are or can be really important. Don’t use the horrible erasers that you can by and are more commonly known in schools ECT, the ones where the rubbings are left all over your work! They can ruin it, either by blowing them off after and accidentally spitting on your paper (big mistake and almost impossible to correct), or by sweeping off with your hand, when you have spent 3 weeks on one part of your work, the last thing you want is to rub and smear it, or put your oil all over you beautifully refined work. Ok you can and I now artists, that do use watercolour paint brushes or makeup brushes to get them away but why the hassle, they are really limited.

Putty rubbers are amazing!! They are lumps of usually blue tack, which can be moulded to any shape and even to a sharp point to pull out the tiniest detail, like a bit of light hitting a spotJ. They pull out the graphite from of the page and in its tooth rather than rub it off, which also damages the tooth, which makes the work re-drawn over the top of it look slightly different from the rest. This has some good advantages,

1. It leaves no shavings or rubbings

2. It can pull out graphite gradually, to alter values and lighten area’s

3. It can be moulded to any shape which enables it to adapt to any given situation#

We after all are living humans, and sometimes we make mistakes, so I would say that an eraser is essential. If you leave a mistake when you’re doing this type of work it WILL be visible to your final piece, and unless that’s what you want then I would use one.

A little secret to us artists here in the UK is to use Blu-tack. This is very similar, and does basically the same thing, though I do find it sometimes a little less effective as the other and it also goes really tacky like chewing gum if you hold the Blu-tack a long time in your warm hands. Same goes for leaving it in the sun whilst you work. It is great and really cheap and if you don’t live in the UK, you can buy it online or find other ‘copies’ which do a very similar job.


I personally would say this is a must, that it must be sprayed on the work to hold it thereafter, like a varnish protects oil paintings. But, they’re artists out there who hate the stuff, Armin Mersmann is one. He can sometimes spend a full year on a work, and sometimes when you sprat fixative, a small spit like blob sprays out, this can ruin the work so it’s easy to understand why he doesn’t use it. Also, once his are in frames, they are there for good most of the time anyway, so there isn’t any need to stop it from smudging... I use fixative. It’s a fear of it smudging after all the work, but it’s a personal choice.

If you don’t know what fixative does, it holds the medium to the paper which helps to prevent the work smudging. It has also been said to protect the work and the paper from age. There are brands out there that artists strongly recommend you don’t go near. Some which has a good reputation is the Winsor & Newton Workable Fixative.

Some links to things mentioned in last few paragraphs:

v Armin Mersmann

v Kneaded Eraser

v Winsor & Newton Workable Fixative

v Blu-Tack

v A Good discussion on Blu-Tack vs Kneaded Erasers

. I buy this paper as a separate sheet in the local art store, it’s usually size A1 (59.4 × 84.1cm).

Both again have their advantages and disadvantages, I have found the Bristol can sometimes be that smooth that it almost has no tooth to hold graphite, and the Fabriano is sometimes a little too rough to capture the details as well, but in the end, it’s all up to you and I’m sure if you experiment, you will eventually find what’s best for you.

More Information on Paper and Pencils:

v Bristol Board on Wikipedia

v Fabriano History

v Paper Size Wikipedia

v History and Shop for Mechanical Pencils

v Derwent Homepage

v Staedtler Homepage (UK)

v Faber-Castell Homepage (UK)

v Some good info on the history of pencils

Blending Equipment:

These are most certainly not essential and only really need to be used for extra effects, but to honestly state that they just speed up a process but for me, in the meanwhile can ruin it also. Blending can be excellent for a technique used to draw glass. For me I try to use them as little as possible. Many artists use them for drawing women, as we all know, women love to be flattered and especially if she is paying for you to make her look good. They often really don’t like the effects of recreating all her little details, but in my opinion it makes them look glassy. However, in the past when I have used blending techniques, the viewers of my work claim that it looks really painterly. I am yet to notice this, but that’s ok.

Blending can usually be done with the very common blending stump which is usually a tool associated with working with charcoal, however it’s not that limited, you can also use it for graphite or pasted ect. This tool is a pencil shaped implement which consists of tightly wound paper, highly compressed. So it’s basically a blender made from paper. You can use the end for something Brian Duey calls Blended Circulism, which is the pointed part, or, like laying down your pencil for mass shading; well the same can apply for this. I suppose, being creative, you could push the graphite about on the paper in different directions to see what kind of effect you can create. However, blending doesn’t just limit you to this paper stick; you can use a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g which is easy to apply to the paper to rub. Obviously common sense applies, as using a liquid to blend would not work. In the past I have used wood chippings, toilet tissue, my finger (not usually the best as it also rubs on your grease which can be hard to get off and can make your wok look blotchy), a leather chamois, pieces of leather (I have tried both sides), paper, cotton buds (good for details) and so on!! They all create their own unique outcome, and often if you use graphite powder and blend with these things you get some amazing effects. Graphite powder can be bought or as I do, when you sharpen your pencil, either with sandpaper or your ordinary sharpener, just sweep the powder onto your paper.