The drawing of children demands freshness and directness of purpose. Unfortunately there are not too many quick and ready rules. Let us just say that children’s portraits demand a sharp and patient eye.
For those who intend to do commercial portraiture the good news is that children’s portraits can be lucrative. There are very few artists who can competently render children.
Soft lighting works best for portraits of children. The child could be looking toward a bright light source. This sort of light source will illuminate the child’s face and create children’s lighting an introspective facial expression. The value stretch or range goes from light to medium with the eyes really dark.
Addressing the facial proportions of children in a general sense is somewhat of a waste of time. Their facial proportions change dramatically within a six month time span.
Suffice it to say that the younger the child is the smaller the face in relation to the skull. The eyes also appear larger although this can be deceiving. A child’s nose can be a nightmare to draw – there is nothing really to latch onto. And the mouth is extremely delicate and sensitive not to mention its constant motion if you draw from life.
If you do want to list some general proportions you can say that whereas an adult face is about half the size of the frontal skull side, a child’s face is about one-third of that size. Also, observe how small an infant’s neck is compared to the size of the head.
At its widest section, a baby’s face is about five eye widths wide. The width between the eyes is a little bit more than the width of an eye. Both the mouth and the nose are about the same width of an eye. Again, we must emphasize that these proportions are only a general rule and individual face proportions can be different. The above general rules can be used for comparison purposes when you do your own careful observations of a particular face.
As always, start your drawing by striking the arabesque and then correcting the height/width proportions as necessary.
After establishing the primary facial proportions (i.e., the brow, nose, mouth, etc.) block-in the major light/dark patterns. Then, stump down the graphite using your fingers or a stump. To render and re-shape the lights use a clean kneaded eraser.
Now the features are carefully placed, sized and partially rendered. There are two things to remember here:
1. Your pencils must be very sharp, and
2. At this stage, you should never fully complete a feature. Render each feature no more than 50%.
Once the features are sized and placed as best you can, you can now further develop them. Do not neglect the hair and sides of the face. Everything should be brought up together. As you continue to draw you should always be on the lookout for errors in proportion and value.
In conclusion, the basic techniques used to draw a child’s portrait are of course always the same. Above, we listed most of the differences in proportion and form between an adult head and that of a child. Your mood when drawing a child should be one that reflects the innocence and the softness of a child.
Remi Engels is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and expert teacher. Check out his Pencil Portrait Course [http://www.remipencilportraits.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=131&Itemid=-] and his Portrait Print Package Special