portrait Drawing Tutorial

How to draw a celebrity

If you've ever attempted to draw a portrait of a celebrity or portrait from a reference, chances are you've been there- in the final steps of finishing the portrait that has taken you weeks, you realize that the portrait you've been drawing looks like a completely different person than the person in your reference. This can be a problem if your model is a famous figure or easily recognizable. In this tutorial, I will show you my techniques in order to capture the likeness of a celebrity in addition to drawing him or her.

Tutorial category: portrait  
Tutorial type:
Submitted by:
Tools used: RMD Java Tool
This tutorial is based on:
♥ For Your Entertainment ♥ by Kyou-chan




Step 1

Before you even get started with a portrait from a reference, you must realize that no matter how long you work, you will simply NEVER be able to completely duplicate your reference. These differences are what makes each artist unique, and what makes us different from human photoshop machines.

Next, get a reference. From what I've learned from portraits, a drawing of someone you love will look better in the end than someone you don't. This is arguable, but for me, I've found that drawing people I love always gives me that extra push and enthusiasm to keep going even when it seems too boring to finish. If you love to draw, you're going to love drawing someone you love.

Keeping with the idea "draw who you love"... I chose a reference picture of someone I LOVE. :) I chose this picture of Adam Lambert because it's a unique picture with the jewelry, it has great contrast of blacks and whites (Contrast is the difference between a bold portrait that stands out and a washed out portrait that fades into the background.) and it would be a challenge. (I'm bad at drawing hands- can you see where this portrait would pose a challenge?)

Also... I knew that it wouldn't be too hard to look at for weeks upon weeks. haha... That's a necessary element too.

So pick your reference and get started! :)


Step 2

Step 2. Gridding! As one of the biggest Glamberts you will ever see in your life, trust me when I say that I KNOW ADAM. I know his face shape, I know the exact shape of the shadows when the lights hit his nose at any given angle, I know the positioning of each and every freckle on his face, and I have got every fleck of color in his blue eyes memorized. And yet I STILL need a grid to make Adam look like Adam.

Gridding is important, because you can't judge what the final product will look like by just the outline. However, a grid is not necessary: you could get by without a grid, but for convenience, I would reccommend it. For every drawing I've scraped by without a grid, there's ten I've ruined by getting the proportions wrong and had to throw out.

What I like to do for my grid is open the reference on photoshop, and use the default grid. Instead of changing the color of the grid itself, I just color over the lines like I did on the left. This will be the size of the grid I will use in Java. As you can see, there are little squares within the grid on the photoshop version. This further helps me scope the position of every line, because I can separate every square of the grid into 16 parts without the inconvenience of so many lines.

Then, I start outlining. I usually do this in two steps: first, not shown, I do a rough ouline, switch to another layer, and do a more detailed outline over it. I then delete the rough outline.

For me, outlining is one of the most important steps there is. It doesn't have to be too detailed, but it should be accurate. the little details, like the pupils, are irrelevant in this step. I also find it to be easier to do the outline in a different color to make it stand out more, but I didn't do that here.



Step 3

Mini-step. Next, I block in the darkest color- in this case, black. You'll see that I didn't block in the eyebrows: this is because they are too affected by the pencil strokes to be able to be blocked in. by this, I mean that the way you draw the individual hairs of the eyebrow makes them more than blobs above his eyes. In any other instance, I wouldn't block the hair in as one blob either, but the hair is very dark and very simple in this particular reference.


Step 4

Next, I block in the next shade of shadows. You won't be able to tell, but this color IS NOT PURE GREY. It is a subtle shade of grey-brown. This is important especially for black and white pictures, because even greyscale pictures aren't pure grey.

I sometimes leave this part out, but, if you do choose to skip it, you're going to have to think of it in your head anyways. adding the correct shape and depth of the shadows is just as important as drawing the outline, because it won't look like the actual people if their eyes are too sunken in or their cheeks are so rounded that they look like whale people.


Step 5

Next, what I do may be a little unconventional. I always start with either eye and finish it before working my way out. I always finish a particular section before moving on to the next section, and it comes together piece by piece. I've heard from a lot of drawing tutorials that this is the worst thing you can do, but I find that it's easy to get away with it online where you can pick up each individual color and fix- even though I always do it on paper too. But, oh well. works for me.

Important- my big tip for adding details is to do something else while you're drawing and take breaks. By do something else, I mean listen to music, listen to the TV, or something else like that. Do something to de-stress yourself from every nitpicky detail and focus on something other than how that pixel is too big or why you can't get that pesky eyelash right. Undo and re-try it without thinking of how much you want to throw your computer out the window and laugh as it smashes on the ground- music will help you do that. It's important to pay attention to details instead of getting completely distracted by music, but your sanity will thank you.

For example- I listened to For Your Entertainment by Adam Lambert on repeat as I was doing this. It got me de-stressed and ready to keep going- and by the time I had finished, my play count was well over 250 times.

Hint- when adding nitpicky details... scatter and blur are your FRIENDS. Don't forget you have them! it's completely possible to go without them, but they make the process just that much easier.



Step 6

I keep pushing forward like this until I feel satisfied with the end result. My tips would be to never start in another place and move towards the place you left off: that creates lines and discrepancies from one place to the next. Just keep moving outward from that eye or point where you started until you reach the end. and, while it's a nice feature, being able to use so many separate layers, it isn't completely necessary. For this drawing, I used only 5- one rough sketch layer that I deleted, one sketch layer that I later erased and replaced with the background, one layer of pure black, a skin/hair/hand/everything else but the jewelry layer that I did my actual drawing on, and a final layer for the jewelry so that I could keep it clean, lighten it and burn it out without screwing the rest up.


Step 7

Finished! I hope this tutorial helped! You'll notice that my finalized drawing is obviously not exactly the same as the original, but (since I haven't gotten any comments saying otherwise... minus a few 'Beyonce?'s, I assume that) it still resembles the person in the reference, even with their differences. I did this particular drawing over a year and a half ago, and I've done a lot of growing as an artist, but, since this was one of my first Adam Lambert portraits I had ever done, (and trust me... there have been MANY more since) this one has a special place in my heart ;)

If you liked this tutorial, leave a comment on my profile :) and if you want me to go more into the detail of how I actually go about drawing a portrait (eyes, eyebrows, physical features of the sort), tell me and I may make another someday. it was fun to do :)

So... this tutorial is here for your entertainment! enjoy :)

Yay for crappy lame puns. Whataya Want From Me? I'm only a person :) Glambert out!

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