Gary Faigin

Draw Better Portraits: Capturing Likeness

Gary Faigin
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  • In-depth Instruction; over 74 mins
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Meet your instructor, artist and author Gary Faigin, as he shares his techniques for consistently capturing a person's likeness. You'll discover a new -- and better -- way to draw your subjects. Gary illustrates how drawing facial features is different from drawing a likeness, as well as how to use shapes and patterns to start sketching out your portrait.
Apply the tips you learned in Lesson 2 to start drawing your first portrait. Gary explains the concept of mapping and why it's the most important step in the portrait process. You'll also learn how to map out a face by sketching the biggest shapes and patterns in relation to each other before breaking them down into smaller parts.
Refine your portrait by focusing on the large shapes you created in Lesson 3. Learn how to sketch smaller features by shading in the mouth, eye sockets, chin and the base of the nose. You'll also discover Gary's tips for narrowing in on the eyes, often the trickiest facial feature to draw.
Now that you know the basics of mapping out faces and drawing shapes and patterns, Gary details how to pinpoint the features that make each face different. Learn more of his tips and techniques as he sketches five more people and reveals what it is that makes them unique.
4 Lessons
1  hrs 14  mins

Learn how to draw realistic faces with a striking resemblance to your subject. In these lessons from renowned artist Gary Faigin, you’ll learn to create a block-in sketch that maps the shapes and patterns of your subject’s face in accurate proportion. As you draw, you’ll create “placeholders” for each facial feature, so you know their exact position, size and relationship to each other. Continue with tips for refining the details of the mouth, eye sockets, chin and the base of the nose. Then, succeed at capturing the nuances of anyone’s eyes by breaking them down into a series of simple shapes. Find out how to draw realistic faces and create portraits that look just like your subject!

Gary Faigin

Gary Faigin wrote The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression, which is now in its 17th printing and published in six languages. Trained at the Art Students League of New York and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he taught in New York for 15 years. He is co-founder and artistic director of the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, where he teaches drawing and painting and leads art tours around the world with his wife, the architect Pamela Belyea.

Gary Faigin

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11 Responses to “Draw Better Portraits: Capturing Likeness”

  1. Alysia

    Very helpful class! I love his teaching style too. This reminds me of a project I had in a graphic arts class. We had to cut out shapes from Bristol board we had painted. Then, glue the shapes together, by layering them, to form a face we had cut out of a magazine. Then I took a drawing class that basically taught me to start with "average" proportions! The face from my graphics class actually looked more like the person than the ones from my drawing class. This approach makes so much sense.


    My god, Gary Faigin is such a great teacher. That feature-swapping example in the first lesson was just superb. What a clever and compelling way make an important point, and to make it memorable in the mind of any student who might initially have been a bit like "erm yeah yeah, whatever, how else are you going to draw someone and make it look like them?" (I myself might have been a little bit guilty of that up until that point haha) Anyway, I won't be skipping this course, that's for sure!

  3. Emma Price

    This course is Fanbloodytastic I agree with what the others are saying thank you very much for this

  4. Melinda Yeoh

    Hi Gary, This is the first time I'm learning portrait drawing this way, and it's very helpful. To focus on the foundation of mapping instead of tackling the eyes, nose, and mouth from the beginning. I wonder if it's possible to use pen instead of charcoal for this technique? If yes, how to adapt it? As the mapping with charcoal is different than mapping with pen. I use fine liner pen primarily for my drawings. Thanks.

  5. Tricia Sarracino

    Thank for the orderly way of viewing the subject through shapes. I understand now how everyone can draw when viewing the subject by shapes. I have always had an interest in portrait drawing but only freehand without knowing the basics of the structure when viewing the subject. I am looking forward to the next lesson.


    Great insight into the concept of "likeness" which we thrive for in portrait drawing. Journey thro' the various aspects in a short span of time. Brilliantly insightful.

  7. Saro Mathai

    A very helpful course

  8. May Elsanhoty

    This course is very useful . I was searching for a course that is very informative in drawing portraits and i finally found one . It helped me alot

  9. ali axim waheed

    Wow! This is an amazing class for people who have interest drawing portraits. Most of us has been drawing and came up with beautiful subjects without knowing what and how we came up! This class helped me how to use my subconscious mind while drawing and sketching. This means it's a good source of practice for my Second drawing to improve my drawing skills. ■Recognizing people and shapes ■Mapping faces or Area ■Refining the shapes or stepping to next level observation ■Drawing variations or understanding the existing subjects rather then what's on our mind. This is the most important steps for a master to focus on with his subject but most of us do it on auto pilot in our mind unconsciously. Thank you so much for this class Sir Gary Faigin For teaching me this beautiful lesson in Art. I no longer keep on drawing Miss Average now! I learned how to catch the existence rather then the average in my mind, and compare the deference between the what I was thinking and what I am looking at. I also like the lesson for mapping the face! It thought me how to keep my stress out from the subject and start to come up and finish with a happy ending. Shape next to shapes......this is beautiful ! If we start our subject carelessly observed we come up with a distortion shapes next to each other we end up mapping distorted. Looking for more new classes on art with Gary's teaching techniques! Thank you! Greetings from Maldive islands

  10. Abdul Awal

    This is one of the most informative and wonderful classes I have ever attended. I have learnt many new things from this class. Thank you Mr. Faigin for your excellent and easy method of teaching.

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