Want more drawing tips, training, and supplies? Use this page as a starting point to find recommended products. As you click through the links, you will only find products that I truly believe will enhance your progress as a portrait artist or will pique your interest.
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I have used many general drawing books over the years to teach myself portrait drawing. The books in the short list below played a significant, major, defining role in developing me into the artist I am today.
How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs – Reading this book by Lee Hammond forever changed the way I approached drawing people. It taught me basic concepts that were new to me at the time but dramatically accelerated my learning curve.
The Big Book of Realistic Drawing Secrets – This book by Carrie and Rick Parks taught me new and more efficient ways to draw people from photographs and from life. Countless examples for how to apply a multitude of drawing supplies were especially helpful.
Below is a list of the drawing supplies I use to create my pencil portraits. Some of the links below are to items comparable to the ones I have (in the case where the brand/model I have subsequently became unavailable).
Light box – This is wonderful for grid drawing! Just put a blank grid on the light box and your drawing paper on top of that. No annoying grid lines to erase after you complete your line drawing!
Bristol board paper – A bit heavier and smoother than typical drawing paper, two-ply Bristol board is perfect for drawing very detailed, realistic pencil portraits. It is sturdy enough to withstand the constant blending, smudging, and erasing that is involved with this kind of artwork.
Graphite pencils – This particular set has a good balance of hard-led and soft-led pencils. There are 12 pencils in the set ranging from 6B to 4H.
Mechanical pencil – This pencil is great for sketching on the go when you don’t want to carry around a full kit of graphite pencils. I also use this pencil for my realistic portraits. It is perfect for adding in those tiny, fine details.
Mechanical lead refills – I use this 2B lead more often than anything else. I have used this (Pentel) brand for many years and love it! It is very sturdy and long-lasting.
Tortillions – These are nice for smudging the graphite on small areas of your drawing paper, adding more to the texture and feel of your artwork.
Blending stumps – These have a similar purpose to the tortillions, but blending stumps are generally for larger surfaces of your drawing paper.
Kneaded eraser – This is a must-have for anyone serious about creating realistic pencil portraits. It erases cleanly without leaving residue. You can pinch it and knead it into whatever shape you like to create highlights, hairs, and other tiny effects.
Eraser pencil with brush – Nice for erasing and brushing away tiny areas. The eraser can be sharpened to more easily get into those tight spaces.
Dusting brush – Brush off eraser residue without worrying about smudging your drawing. This handy tool also prevents you from accidentally spitting on your hard work while trying to blow the debris away!
Circle template – Make perfect circles required by, among other things, irises and pupils.
Workable fixative – A fixative sprayed on your drawing after you finish it will prevent it from getting smudged from careless handling. This fixative is also “workable”, meaning if you wanted to work in layers, you could spray in between new layers and not fear your hand smudging your previous work as you continue to draw.
If you want to browse around for a larger variety of drawing supplies, look no further than the Let’s Draw People Store! Powered by Amazon, this site-based platform displays a condensed list of categories specific to drawing, so you can find exactly what you want quickly and easily.