• Kirsty Partridge

How to Draw a Face in Just 5 Steps

Today I’m going to be taking you through, step-by-step, how I draw a realistic face with charcoal. You’ll only need a handful of materials, all of which you can find at the bottom of this page. You can watch the real time tutorial in full over on my Patreon page.


Step 1

I like to block in shadows first with my darker charcoal pencil (4B or 6B usually). These shadows are usually the darkest areas of the face, but you should look at your reference for guidance. I tend to start with the eyes, as the pupils, eyelids etc are quite dark. Doing this first allows you to judge the mid-tones and highlights later on.


Step 2

It’s time to add in the mid-tones now. Using the side of a lighter charcoal pencil (H or HB) just gently shade in all of those lighter values - but not the highlights! I start by contouring the nose on either side and go on to all other areas in need. At this point just really assess your reference and pick out all the darker areas that need some shading. You can build up more layers, but I recommend not pressing too hard on your pencil and instead go in different directions to add more layers. This will make blending easier when we get that far for smoother, natural looking skin.


Step 3

Fluffy paintbrushes and tissues are great to now begin blending your charcoal. Starting with the paintbrush I use circular motions to blend out all of those charcoal lines. It gives a really lovely base layer and a base tone to all of the white areas as well. However, it won’t get rid of all the graininess, so I use the tissue as a great insurance policy for ultimate smoothness. Take care blending the smaller details!


Step 4

Thought you were done with shading? Think again! Blending makes everything a bit lighter, so we need to go back and make sure everything is as dark as our reference. Using your two pencils from before build up those layers to ensure your values are dark enough. Blend any layers you add straight away. Keep building until you are satisfied.



Step 5

Now for my favorite part; adding highlights and details. I love this because highlights really do make your drawings pop so make the most of them! Contrast is everything. Anyway, gently use a stick eraser to brighten up the lightest areas of the face. Then add in those eyelashes and fine eyebrow hairs, any fine details really that you didn’t want to add before in case the blending smudged them.




If you would like to improve your charcoal drawings, then check out my online charcoal courses! Learn all the techniques you need to master drawing with charcoal.


To see these steps in action, watch the video below:


Materials used:

Generals Charcoal Pencils: http://geni.us/CharcoalDrawingSet

Arches Hot Pressed Paper: http://geni.us/Archeshotpressed

Blending Stumps: http://geni.us/Tortillion

Derwent Superpoint sharpener: http://geni.us/DerwentSharpener

Tombow Mono Eraser: http://geni.us/TombowMonoEraser

Disclaimer; some links are affiliated.

0 comments

Feel Proud of Your Next Drawing in 10 Easy Steps!

©2020 by Kirsty Partridge Art