Drawing idea: Greek or Roman statue portrait | Laura Kranz
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Drawing idea: Greek or Roman statue portrait

Here’s a drawing exercise where you’ll end up with a geometric-looking portrait based on Greek or Roman architecture. Your final drawing might look something like this:


Here’s how you’ll make it.

Step 1. Find a reference photo

Find a photograph to reference of a Greek or Roman statue. You’ll be using the head as a reference for your drawing. This can be easily done with a quick Google search, but you’ll also be likely to find lots of images to reference in art history books with photographs.

Step 2. Choose your paper

Get a not-too-flimsy piece of paper, preferably smaller than 9″x 12.” I used 5″ x 7″ in the drawing above. (Here are my recommendations for drawing paper sizes in general.) I tend to prefer bristol vellum because it’s very sturdy and smooth.

Step 3. Choose your pen

Fir this drawing idea, I’m recommending a simple ballpoint pen. You can use something a little nicer if you have it on hand—maybe a felt-tipped pen like a micron or something. But even the cheapest hotel pen will do the trick for your Greek or Roman statue portrait.

Step 4. Outline the face shape

Gently sketch out the overall shape of the face, hair, and neck. Don’t worry too much about the details yet; just get the overall big picture down.

Step 5. Block in the shadows

The cool thing with photos of sculptures is that usually they’re under very dramatic museum lights. This means you have some strong shadows to play with, which will give your drawing a very cool effect. In this step, you’ll create shapes that clearly identify where all the very darkest parts of the face are.

Step 6. Refine and fill in

Once you’ve laid in shapes that represent all the main shadows, you can fill them in with parallel and crosshatched lines. Define the edges of each shape—especially the outer edge of the face as a whole—by going over them and thickening them.

Here are another few sketches I made in this style, one using a blue ballpoint pen, one using pencil. I eventually went on to refine the first one into the drawing, The Angel with the Columnand the second one into the painting, Geometric Madonna.

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