How To Draw Realistic Portrait From Photograph / Marie Fredriksson - Roxette


For this demonstration I used the following supplies:

If those supplies / brands are not available in your country use whatever you feel comfortable with.


This is the most important step. Why? You can start drawing an eye, shade it and make it look perfect. But what if you make a mistake drawing next feature? It may be too big or too small. To avoid this, start with the outline. This is the classic front view portrait, so THE LOOMIS METHOD rules will help us to draw it:

Source: Andrew Loomis - Drawing the Head and Hands

Draw the outline very light with 2B pencil (it will be easer to erase if you make a mistake). Start with the main features, check the proportions and arrangement. You may also draw shapes created by the shadows. The more you draw at this point, the easier it gets later. Take your time, don't rush it.

It’s hard to see the result, because the outline is very light and that’s the way it should be. I scanned the drawing and darken it in Photoshop to make it more visible:

NOTE: If you want to know more about the Loomis method google the book "Drawing the Head and Hands". It's available for free!


I will start with the darkest shadows in eyes and jacket.

If you drew before you probably know about divisions of the pencils. There are hard pencils (marked with the letter "H") and soft (market as „B”). They are also marked with number: H1, H2, H3, H4, … and B1, B2, B3, B4, … etc. The higher number the harder and lighter the pencil H is and the higher number, the softer and darker the pencil B is (also more texture of the paper will be visible). There are also two pencils in the middle – “F” and “HB”.

If this is new for you, get those pencils and try what can you do with each one.

To make the darkest shadows as black as possible I chose 6B pancil. Sharpen the pencil to draw small details like eyelashes. Draw the darkest values in eyes:

The shadows in jacket are large. To make them black I must draw few layers of the graphite. Start light and go darker with another ones. Shade using the side of the pencil and when the shadows are dark enough use top of the pencil to make them even darker.

TIP: When you draw put a piece of paper under your hand. It will keep your hands off the drawing surface. When you touch the paper you leave an oily firm from your skin that will attract graphite. It will also prevent smudging previously applied graphite.


Having the darkest shadows it is easier to draw values next to them. Like before, start light and darken them with another layers of graphite.

Drawing after this step:


Now draw the background with B4 pencil. Start close to the outline and be careful when you get to the hair.

For main features I change pencil to mechanical ones (2B and HB).

It’s hard to see the shape of the pupils because of the camera reflections. You need to observe and draw the valuse in the eyes. Don’t shade the highlights of reflections, but avoid commom mistake to make sclera white. It’s a sphere so it needs to be shade as one.

Draw the most significant hairs and than darken the shapes of the brows. At the ends they are lighter and have less hair.

Darken the valuse at the sides of wings and nostrils, so you can see the shape of it.

Darkened lines on the lips before shading. When you have it draw the valuse. Upper lip is darker as a result of light coming from the top.


Use 2B pancil for shading (for darker valuse) and HB (for lighter values and details). Look for darkest values on the face and shade them. Next shade midtones.
When I see that I’m losing the details like wrinkles I stop and darken them with HB pencils. When I’m done I repeat the proces and with every repetition I gain darker valuse on the face.


The hair as important as any other elements (eyes, lips, etc.). It’s time consuming but it’s worth it! You are not able to draw every single hair, but you can focuse on the most distinctive ones and let the rest be sugessted by the vievers. Remember that hair have lights and shadows as well. Be patient, hair is hard to draw.

This is how it looks after previous steps:


With all features in the drawing I look at it as a whole and check the values. I need to ‘push the darks’ more to create bigger contrast. I go back to every part, make it darker and draw details I missed before.

Below the drawing before (on the left) & after (right) this step:

Is it done? When to stop? Well, I’m done when I see that I’m starting to making it worse (for example I made something too dark and I can't fix it). I recommend to leave the drawing for few days. When you go back to it look at it with fresh eyes and see if there is a need to correct something (there always is).

The last thing to do is sign the drawing. I always add the date to the signature to see my progress over the years. Sign your name in place where it won’t be too distracting to the viewer.

And here is the final drawing:

Hope You enjoyed this tutorial ;)