Michael Britton

Portrait Drawing Lessons - Learn to draw portraits

Portrait Drawing Lessons:
The Beauty of Line - Part 3

There are, generally speaking, five types of line drawing: contour, blind contour, continuous, gesture and constructive. Each type of line drawing expresses its own language in terms of movement, rhythm, proportion and density.

Portrait Drawing Lessons - Line 1

A line drawing is not meant to fully describe an object’s form (whether it be a still life, landscape or portrait), but instead serves to capture the distilled elements and characteristics of the subject.

Portrait Drawing Lessons - Picasso - Les Moissonneurs
Picasso, Les Moissonneurs, 1919

Contour Line Drawing

The contour line expresses weight by using a heavier line and, conversely, delicacy with a light line. Perspective is also suggested with line

How to Draw Faces and Portraits

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    Picasso’s drawing, Les Moisonneurs, expresses voluptuous volume using contour line. The exaggerated thickness of the figures denote a heaviness that well suggests the torpor of a midafternoon nap.

    The Blind Contour Drawing

    An excellent exercise for developing your sense of tactile form is the blind contour drawing. Looking only at your subject draw the contour with one continuous line. The purpose is to visually feel the form. Don’t worry about the proportions; that will come later once you have developed your hand/eye coordination. The blind contour should be drawn as slowly as possible – think of it as drawing a line with a sculptural sensibility.

    Henri Matisse

    Portrait Drawing Lessons - Henri Matisse

    Portrait Drawing Lessons - Egon Schiele - Self Portrait

    Continuous Line Drawing

    Similar to the blind contour drawing is the continuous line drawin but this is not just an exercise but a work of art. Each line is rendered continuously to depict a form. Henri Matisse, amongst others, was an absolute master of the continuous line drawing. Matisse’s line drawings are deceptively simple; their power derives not only from the exceptional economy and grace of line but also from the subtly suggested volumes of form.

    Egon Schiele

    Gesture Line Drawing

    The gestural line drawing is a quick and spontaneous depiction of a pose or instance. Gesture drawings are also known as action drawings. The focus in gesture drawing is to capture both movement and weight. Many artists begin their day with gesture drawings to loosen up.

    The Austrian artist, Egon Schiele (1890-1918) drew many gestural self-portraits with a powerfully expressive angularity. Schiele’s modus was not to describe volume and grace but raw expressive emotion.

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