We love using the summertime to knock out some fun electives and enrichment studies. This summer, we’ve been working our way through a new DVD art curriculum we got from Timberdoodle called Drawing Realistic Portraits.
The course is simple and straight forward with only fifteen lessons — a little less than two hours total instruction time.
Although the course is geared toward high schoolers, motivated students as young as 8-10 would also benefit.
In addition to the Drawing Realistic Portraits DVD, students will also need the following supplies:
- 2-ply Smooth Bristol Board – we used normal drawing pad paper for the initial lessons and saved the smooth bristol for final portrait drawing
- 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil – one of my sons preferred the mechanical pencil; the rest of us used standard wooden art pencils
- 2B Soft 0.5mm Lead – the softness of the lead is key and yields much better results than hard lead pencils
- Blenders & Kneadable Eraser – buy a big set of these, as you’ll use them a bunch
- Ellipse Template – helpful if you aren’t good at drawing freehand circles and ovals
- Soft Paint Brush – for brushing dust and eraser debris from your drawings
Students begin with some elementary lessons on shading. This provides practice in blending techniques and creating contrasts, highlights, and shadows.
I used a similar course (on VHS) to teach my older kids how to draw realistic portraits in charcoal. But that older course was discontinued ages ago, so I was delighted to find this newer one which teaches the same method.
With basic techniques under their belts, students move on to drawing eyes, mouths, and other facial features and expressions.
Toward the end of the course, students put all they’ve learned in the practice exercises together to draw a realistic portrait from a photograph.
To help in this endeavor, they create two girds: one to place over the portrait, and a second matching grid drawn lightly on their bristol board.
We were pleased with the results. My 11-year-old Abby recreated a portrait of her grandmother.
Not bad, huh? Especially for her first attempt.
My 13-year-old stuck with the project a little longer than his younger sister. Gabriel chose a portrait of Winston Churchill for his project.
The image of British Bulldog he was using for a pattern was in deep shadow, which made it a bit more challenging.
But his pencil portrait is coming along nicely, too, don’t you think?
My nearly 16-year-old took the most time on his portrait. He was already very meticulous about his art, but this course gave him an even stronger eye for detail.
He chose as his subject a World War I hero by the name of Sir Douglas Haig. (Daniel is also a history buff.)
He’s been working on it for days. And, although it is much nearer completion now than when I took this snapshot, he is still not completely through drawing it.
I’ll update this post with the finished portrait once Dan is satisfied with his work. But I didn’t want to delay this review any longer, as I’m thinking there are lots of homeschool moms who might like their children to learn to draw realistic portraits from photographs this summer. Or maybe even learn how to do so themselves!
If that describes you, you can order a copy of this realistic portrait drawing DVD through Timberdoodle. They sell it as a stand-alone product, or it is also included in their 12th grade curriculum kit. Enjoy!