• Kirsty Partridge

Biggest Tips for Guaranteed Realistic Drawings

When it comes to drawing realistically, I really believe it boils down to four key things. So, I will go through each of these four things and help you achieve that super-realistic drawing you want. Also, for lots of in-depth realistic drawing tutorials click here.


TIP 1: The first factor is contrast. All great realistic drawings have great contrast, and, in my opinion, this is the most important factor. Basically, having great contrast means that you have a wide range of values in your drawing. You don’t want your drawing to be all in the mid-tone range.


If you can master contrast, preserve your highlights and get in those deep shadows then this will really elevate your drawing. I believe it is something that a lot of people overlook and underestimate, but it is a building block of a successfully realistic drawing.


TIP 2: The second factor is actually an accurate sketch. You can master the shading and everything else but if your sketch isn’t accurate then your drawing won’t look realistic. This is most important when you’re doing anything with specific anatomy e.g. an animal or person. If you have got your proportions or anatomy wrong, then it will stick out like a sore thumb!

Before you go in with shading and colored pencil make sure you have mastered a realistic sketch.


TIP 3: The third factor is detail. A good amount of detail is important. This doesn’t mean you need to draw every strand of hair when drawing hair, but you need to be aware of your reference and pick out some of the details that you can see.


What really helps with detail is time. Don’t rush it! Focus on one area of your drawing or portrait at a time e.g. an eye and work on the detail in that area, for example, the iris and eyelashes. Everyone is different so pick out those unique bits from the reference and make your drawing actually look like them.



TIP 4: The fourth and final factor is color choice. I put this last as I don’t think it’s the most important thing for realistic drawings, however people do tend to focus and worry about it a lot. Personally, I care more about picking colors that are the same value as in the reference rather than the exact color itself. Changing the hue of a reference image still makes it look realistic as all the detail, contrast and proportions are there. Of course, you still want to be somewhere in the same ballpark.


I would recommend making a color chart of all of the colors that are available to you. Placing this next to your reference image can help you to pick the closest colors you have. Make sure they are natural to what you’re drawing, for example for blonde hair don’t use super artificial yellow colors.


If you want more expert guidance on your realistic drawing journey, then have a look at these online courses.


To see me talking you through these factors, watch the video below:


Feel Proud of Your Next Drawing in 10 Easy Steps!

©2020 by Kirsty Partridge Art