How to draw a face

Colored pencil drawing of Eminem - Tutorial

In this drawing tutorial I'll show you how I draw portrait with colored pencils. I've scanned the steps of my drawing and I'll try to explain what I've done in each step. This tutorial won't make you draw better immediately, because you have to practice, and don't give up if your drawing doesn't look good. Keep on drawing! Of course, I don't consider myself an expert and don't think that I know the best way to draw portrait - there are many ways and styles out there - I just want to help those who have been asking me how I draw and what I use.


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I use Prismacolor Premier colored pencils for drawing the human skin. These pencils are soft and creamy, and this brand offers a large scale of colors and nuances. I will tell you exactly which pencil I'm using and why, so you can use the same pencils in order to achieve lifelike portraits. The most important thing is to use more colors and create many layers with different tones. If you use only one pencil, your drawing will appear cartoonish. Prismacolor pencils are so soft and behave so much unlike any other colored pencils on the market. When used correctly, Prismacolor drawings can take on the appearance of a painting. They are perfect for blending and burnishing. I bought the set of 150 - which you can see left in this chapter - and after clicking the link you can buy this set for the really good price. However, if you cannot afford the set of 150, the set of 48 colored pencils will also do for the beginning. This set includes the most important pencils for drawing the skin, such as Light Peach, Beige Sienna, Dark Umber and so on, so you can start to practice and to try out these pencils. You can learn about the pencils I use and read more about the way I draw the faces in my book "How to Draw Portraits with Colored Pencils" with step-by-step drawing tutorials (this tutorial is included). Subscribers on Amazon can read for free, because I've allowed all of my books to participate in KDP program.

You can also buy an individual single colored pencil, which is a really good deal. You can see the links below with 4 important pencils for blending and burnishing that can also be applied over the dervent or any other kind of pencils. I'm always using these grey colored pencils. After clicking on the White or Cool Grey 50% bellow, you will be led to the selling page where you can chose (beside these 4 pencils) +110 single colored pencils by Prismacolor, so you can chose which colors you want to buy. This is also good, if you have used up only one pencil from your set, you can get that pencil without having to buy the full set again. For those asking me which colored pencil are good for skin, here are the pencils that I use to create a pale, black and any other kind of skin: Light Peach, Dark Umber, Dark Brown, Sienna Brown, Chocolate, Beige Sienna, Putty beige, Peach Beige, Limepeel, Ginger Root and White.


The next important thing for being successful in realistic drawing is a smooth paper. I draw usually on 11* x 14* or 9* x 15* smooth white paper. You can buy it here: Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper Pad, 9 by 12-Inch, 20 Sheets This is the cheapest selling website that I could find. Bristol Smooth Paper is amazing quality paper, great for sketching with graphite pencils, drawing with colored pencils and for any other medium. I wouldn't recommend a smaller paper, because when we draw on a small paper, we cannot go much into details.

Get the colored pencils I use: Amazing Prismacolor Premier set of 150 pencils (you can buy exactly the same pencils I use after clicking the link/image below). Buy this set now while cheap (it may not stay cheap for long!) The Best Prismacolor Colored Pencils


If you want to draw a realistic portrait, you have to create an accurate main lines. Your sketch has to be as proportional as possible, because the colored pencils cannot be fully erased and you won't be able to change the main characteristic of the portrait if you note that is not good. If you are not able to create the proportional sketch, use the grid-method. Some of the advanced artists use only two-three lines in their grid, because this is enough for the orientation. If you're using the grid-method, your sketching can go much faster, not to mention that there's much less erasing and the paper stays smooth and clear. As you become more comfortable, you can make your grid squares slightly bigger. This will force you to free-hand more. Keep increasing the size of the grid squares and eventually, you won't need to use a grid at all. However, if you just cannot make an accurate sketch, below you can download mine and start to color. Beside, you can download the reference photo as well.


I always start my portrait by drawing the eyes. I use a well sharpened black pencil to strengthen the pupils and eyelashes following my initial sketch lines. I'm leaving white in the middle of the pupils for the reflection of the light.

I draw the irises using a light blue colored pencil, Always keep your pencil sharp when drawing the irises, because these parts of the drawing are very important and one tiny line can influence the appearance of the portrait. This has to be done precisely.

At first, I build the basic color of the entire skin area using a Light Peach. I create the fundamental color this way so my portrait won't look pale. You can see in the next image that my drawn area doesn't look smooth at all, but don't worry, we will add a lot of colors and blend the area.

Having drawn the whole area with Light Peach, I can still see my sketch lines under it, so I have them for orientation. In the next step, I draw the darkest and shadowed parts of the skin, using Dark Brown. I strengthen the lines of the mouth, nose, fingers and eyelids with Sienna Brown. I draw a bit of the eyebrows, but later I will add more details and improve on their shape. I added a big shadow under the hand, even though it wasn't in the reference photo, because I want it to appear more realistic. Also, don't forget to add the shadow that his clothes create.

Compare my previous and next steps so you can observe what I've drawn and you can try the same. It is important to stay with one step until you are satisfied with the result. In the next step, I make one more layer over the whole skin area using Peach Beige Prismacolor. You should make small circles as you blend to cover every part equally.

Continue by making one more layer using a Ginger root colored pencil. Don't forget to avoid the eyes and lips and don't draw over the eyebrows.

Now, using yellow and light brown pencils, draw the visible hair. Proceed to shape the nose and forehead, using Beige Sienna. Make a gradation, starting with the darkest part and letting the color fade out as you go outwards from the shadowed area. Do the same with the upper and lower eyelids. Press lightly when drawing with this pencil. You should make little circles, or an even better technique is to stipple. Stippling is a way of marking a surface with numerous small dots or specks. This way you can always stop before you possibly add too much shadow.

Carefully analyze my steps in order to better understand what I've tried to explain. In the next step, add more shadows using Beige Sienna and Dark Brown. Note that I do the same with his hand, shading over every single finger using Beige Sienna.

Now let's draw his lips. I use a Pink colored pencil for this and go over it with Beige Sienna and then again with the Pink pencil. This way his lips won't appear womanly. When you look at the reference photo of any man, you will notice that the part where the hair grows: e.g., the mustache or a beard has a green shine. So, draw that. Don't be afraid of using the green color when drawing a man's face. This will make the portrait more lifelike. I draw this tiny areas using Limepeel Prismacolor, barely touching the paper.

The next step is very important in shading and it's when we add highlights, using a white pencil. Take a look at the next image to note where I draw the highlights: the top of the nose, between the eyebrows, between the nose and mouth, and also the fingers and hand. You will notice that the skin I draw finally becomes smooth.

Next, I draw a visible part of the tattoo and the shadow that falls over the white T-shirt using 20% Cool Grey.

Before we start to draw the black hood let me make a little review about the black colored pencils, because I have a lot of experience with them. Prismacolor and other brands often forms a white haze called wax bloom a short time after the drawing is finished. If you have an experience in drawing, you may already have noticed this. That's why I bought a lot of black colored pencils by many companies and noticed that only one kind of pencils appears absolute black even after many months and that's the black colored pencil by Faber-Castell company, namely Albrecht Durer black colored pencil. The simple black colored pencil by the same company doesn't produce the absolute black tough. You can see in the next image the brands that I've worked with and how the drawn areas appear after a few days. I've even tried the black colored pencil by Luminance Caran d'Ache, but that's not that black to me, that appears like Cool Grey 90% and that's just too expensive brand. Since I'd tried Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer black colored pencil, I've been using it for drawing the darkest areas. Not to mention that this pencil is manufactured with extra-thick 3.8 mm leads, so is lasts really long. You can buy this pencil after clicking the link/image right in this chapter.

So, draw the black hood carefully contouring his face and hand this way. Press really hard to get an absolute black color.

If you want more tutorials, even on drawing black skin, you can get my book on Amazon (this Eminem tutorial is included): "How to Draw Portraits with Colored Pencils" with step-by-step drawing tutorials.

I would suggest you to watch me drawing Eminem in real-time video below, this is not time-lapse! You learn best personally when you work as you watch someone else working instead of just pictures. However, the pictures do give an idea of how to use the techniques, and if you observe both - scanned steps in this tutorial and video - you can see the process of drawing and observe the things that I haven't mentioned. Drawing is a visual art and can hardly be explained only by words. Replay the parts of the video you haven't understood yet, more times. By watching, you can learn more and faster.

This was just a simple drawing, but if you want to draw more detailed portraits, you have to use much more colors.

Every skin is different and I always use different pencils and experiment with new ones. For example, for the following drawings I used different mixtures and combinations than in this tutorial.

For the portrait of Ariana Grande (next image) I used Rosy Beige (PC 1019) and created highlights with Cream (PC 914). Some other reference photo of her would required different colors.

For the portrait of 50 Cent I used Beige Sienna (PC 1080) as a basic color, I created highlights with Peach Beige (PC 1085) and White (PC 938), and shadows with Dark Brown (PC 946), Dark Umber (PC 947) and a bit of Warm Greys. I used a bit of Deco Pink (PC 1014) for his lower lip.

For the Henry Cavill's Superman I used Peach Beige (PC 1085) (Ginger Root (PC 1084) is also good) and shaded it with Light Umber (PC 941) and Dark Brown (PC 946).

I used Light Peach (PC 927) as a basic color, and Deco Peach (PC 1013), Deco Pink (PC 1014) as well for the portrait of Adriana Lima.

For the highlighted side of the face of Brandon Routh's Superman I used Light Peach (PC 927) and Peach Beige (PC 1085) and for the shadowed part I used Dark Umber (PC 947). Also I created highlight on the right side of the shadowed part of his face using Lime Peel (PC 1005) and Canary Yellow (PC 916) because such kind of light falls over the right side of his face. As mentioned, if you see unusual colors in the reference photo, don't be afraid to use them.

I used Putty Beige (PC 1083) as a basic color for The Arrow. I drew his facial hair with Light Umber (PC 941) and French Grey 90% (PC 1076). When I shaded his face I added a bit of Apple Green (PC 912), because of the green hoody that surrounds his face and reflects on the skin.

For the portrait of Morgan Freeman, I used Chocolate (PC 1082) and blended it with Peach Beige (PC 1085). I used Cool Greys for the hair.

Light Umber (PC 941) and Putty Beige (PC 1083) were the main colors for the portrait of Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. I used Warm Greys for his hair and Rosy Beige (PC 1019) for his lips.

I used Peach (PC 939) and Beige (PC 997) as a main colors for the portrait of Markiplier. Ginger Root (PC 1084) is also a great colored pencils for this portrait.

So, there are a lot of combinations of colors and mixtures that we can use and the more colored pencils you have the easier your job will be. I hope that you can afford yourself good pencils and that you are able to spend a lot of time on drawing. If so, after much practice, experience and patience you will become better and better at drawing.

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