See How to Draw Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is still considered an icon even to this day. Despite her problems with drugs, who she married, or how she died, she is and will always be a great influence to future generations to come. As you can see, she is an influence to some of us artists. She makes a great subject to study and practice our drawing skills. You will see how to draw Whitney Houston in this tutorial. With that being said, let’s jump into drawing her and honing our skills!

 © Carrienelson1 |
© Carrienelson1 |

Draw the Facial Features

When working from a photo, I think it’s best that you have 2 of them. One would be for making lines on the photo and the 2nd one would be the photo that you will be working with after the outlines of the figure have been drawn. Start out by first drawing lines (with a ruler or a straight object, of course) onto the 1st picture. Usually I would draw lines that would be under the eyes, the nose, top and bottom of the mouth, and the chin. I would then draw vertical lines on both sides to where the sides of the face will be.

see how to draw whitney houston gridlines closeup


I would then repeat this action on my sheet of paper where I would make my future drawing. It’s safe to say that you may want to measure out the space in between the lines so that you can get as close as you can on the eyes, nose, and mouth being near their exact proximity. In this stage, many artists will use different tools to achieve a perfect anatomy or proximity of the focused object such as grids, light boxes, projectors, or free hand.


00 how to draw whitney houston guidelines


In this stage I’m placing the facial features in their designated areas. I’m making sure both the bottom of the eyes and nose are touching the line and the top and bottom of the mouth are touching the line. One of the rules to remember is that when you draw the eyes, remember that they are one eye-length apart and from the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the mouth, that is also one eye-length.

01 how to draw whitney houston features



In this stage, I’m focusing on the placement of her hair and chin and making a logical placement of her shoulders.

02 how to draw whitney houston outline



Now it’s time for the nitty gritty of things – time to start doing the real drawing. Here, as you can see, I started with the eyes first. I have always started with the eyes. I would recommend that you do that too. In my opinion, it feels more complete once you have both of them done.

03 how to draw whitney houston eye

When doing the eye, you need to first draw in a small highlight/glare to illustrate the reflection of light. This can be achieved by drawing a small circle or square. You then want to use a dark pencil (6B or darker) to fill in the pupil.

After that is done, you want to take a tortillion and add the color of the iris. At this point, you may want to outline the eye and the iris to differentiate it from the rest.

Another action that is overlooked so often is greying the upper area of the eye. This can also be achieved with a tortillion. You must show that the eyelid casts a small shadow.

03a how to draw whitney houston eye

The last two things that you have to do is add an eyelid crease and some eyelashes. The eyelid crease can be added with any pencil and then with a tortillion. Smudge it some to show that the line is blended into its surroundings instead of it looking like a hard line and standing out. I believe that’s what differentiates many artists. How well do your lines and colors blend in with a concept?

Moving along to the next body part, the first thing I do is redefine the parting of the lips. I do this like I did drawing the eyelid – I’ll draw exactly where the lips part and then smudge it with a tortillion.

04 how to draw whitney houston lips

Once that’s complete, I work on the bottom lip by first drawing lines in an upward motion. I’ll try and fade the sweeping as I get close to the middle of the lip to illustrate a “lip glare/highlight.” Soon as I got it drawn, I’ll, you guessed it, use a tortillion again to smudge. With that same tortillion, I’ll smudge or add a darker tone to the upper lip. Depending on the angle and if the person is facing light, I may have to add a highlight to the upper lip.

Draw the Hair

Alright, time for my favorite part……HAIR! I absolutely love drawing hair. With that being said, let’s dive right into it! Okay so the first thing you want to do is “color” the hair completely with a light pencil. I used a 3H.

05 how to draw whitney houston hair step 1



Once that’s done, use tissue paper or a non-lotion Kleenex to smudge or blend.

06 how to draw whitney houston hair step 2



You want to take a dark pencil now and add in darker strands or highlights in SOME areas. Blend this with your tissue paper. You will want to leave some areas illustrated as highlights and light reflection.

07 how to draw whitney houston hair step 3



Once everything is blended, go back with either a dark pencil (6B or darker) or a mid-way pencil (H, F, HB) to add hair strands throughout the head of the figure. Do not blend or use a tortillion/tissue – you want to show some hair strands.

08 how to draw whitney houston hair step 4


Finish the Face and Clothing


Now to the body part I don’t care to work on. It’s necessary but I’m never motivated to do it.

Keep in mind that 2 noses are not the same. Even if it’s the same person, different lighting of the subject will have the nose casting or using different shadows. Now you understand why I don’t care too much for it.

Anywho, the first thing I work on are the nostrils with a tortillion. I then smooth the nose edges and try to make it appear as if they are soft shadows instead of hard lines. I also try to bring some of the dark tone out toward the cheek area to show more blending that way.

09 how to draw whitney houston face



Here I’m working on some shading and tone on the face as well as certain details of the face like the cleft under the nose. I’ve also added the color to Whitney’s shirt. It looks 2D and boring right now, but maybe I can spice it up.

11 how to draw whitney houston clothing



Okay, here is the finish drawing. I smudged the black that was on her shirt and used a kneaded eraser to mimic the shimmer she had on her shirt. I also put some detail to her earrings and used a pencil eraser to add some small detail near the bottom of her shirt.

how to draw whitney houston

Overall I think the skin tone could have been a lot darker, but I’ve always been precautious about darkening people in my drawings – fear of making a mistake that would be hard to get out. Oh well, none of us are perfect but we still aim for it.


  1. Rodney Duderstadt

    I like the set up to draw Whitney, would be easy to oil paint her tht way

    • I will be doing a downloadable instructional video on how to oil paint on my website in a month or two. We’re in the middle of doing a how to draw video right now. There will be 3 or 4 instructional videos in all. We’re looking at a 3 or 4 month project in all.

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