Steps for Creating the
Portrait or Figure Drawing
Gather your supplies. You will choose either a portrait picture or a picture of a figure. Look through
magazines or catalogues. If you have access to a printer, you can print an image. It can be black and white or
color. Make sure your reference picture is in good shape (no wrinkles on the paper), image is not blurred,
and it isn’t too light or too dark.
Don’t just settle on the first image that you think might work for this project. Look through all of your
options, choose a few and then narrow it down to one.
Note: The slides in this tutorial give you examples of both the portrait and the figure.
Once you have located your reference picture, you will decide if you need to trim it before you begin.
Put your picture on a piece of paper and brainstorm your cut paper design. Think about the shapes or
sections you will be cutting out, and what parts you are going to draw. Brainstorming gives you the
opportunity to visually see what the design could look like. It is important to do this. If you just go
and cut your picture right away without planning, you may not like that design and then you need to
start all over again and locate a new reference picture.
Get your scissors, and carefully cut your picture using the design of your choice.
Line up your picture pieces, and glue or tape down the pieces you will not be drawing. Make sure everything is
lined up as accurately as you can get them before you glue or tape the pieces to the paper. If you are taping the
pieces of paper, please roll the tape and put it on the back of the paper.
Contour line is the method in which you draw only the outline of an object, without any shading. For example, if you
wanted to do a contour line drawing of a pear, you’d simply draw the outline of the pear, add a stem, and stop there. “Contour”
actually means “outline” in French, which is where the name comes from. Start your contour line drawing of your portrait or
figure by drawing light pencil lines. Erase mistakes as you go.
One helpful trick in getting the proportions right is to create a point of reference. Put the cut part of the portrait in it’s place on
your paper. Point your pencil on the part of the portrait you are working on. The example below is the edge of the hairline.
Move your paper away, but do not move your hand holding the pencil. Make a small mark on the paper to indicate the edge of
the hairline and then continue drawing it in looking at your picture for reference.
You will make mistakes as you draw so be sure to keep an eraser nearby and use it.
When you finish drawing your contour line drawing, you will then start
shading in your drawing.
Observe your picture reference. Adjust the pressure of your pencil to create different values. Be
mindful of the direction of your pencil strokes. Keep your pencil sharpened in order to keep your pencil
stroke application under control and neatly done.
white for lighter
highlights as the
darkest value is
Then it is shaded in
Again, keep your pencil sharpened. It will make all the difference when drawing in the details and controlling the
You can use a piece of Kleenex
to blend in your shading
Shading before the Kleenex Shading after using the Kleenex
You can also apply pencil to a separate sheet of
paper. Rub the Kleenex onto the pencil and then
“shade” with the Kleenex. This is very helpful when
creating extremely light values.
Checking in on
the shading of
Additional shaded examples
You are going to add a few collage elements to your final drawing.
Collage is the technique of taking various, different materials such
as photographs, pieces of paper, fabric, yarn or objects and gluing
or taping them on to your art work.
Suggested collage materials (but feel free to use other items too):
• washi tape
• gift wrap
• lined paper, grid paper, construction paper
• advertisements or catalogues you might receive in the mail
• book pages
• objects such as buttons, leaves, rocks, toys, yarn, feathers,
shells, stamps, straws etc.
Not finding anything? Grab a pen or marker and create your own
different patterns and designs that you can use instead.
If using paper materials, cut or rip shapes and designs and move them around
your drawing to see what will make the best design. If using objects, place
them around your drawing to see what will make an interesting design.
Then, glue or tape them onto your paper. If you are using tape, please roll
the tape and put it onto the back of the paper or the bottom of the object.
Hand drawn design
using ball point pen
received in the
Page from a
When you have completed your
assignment, be sure to write
your name on your paper.
Take a picture of your work and
email it to your teacher.