Portrait Sketchbooking: Explore The Human Face (A Review)

Portrait Sketchbooking By Gabriela Niko

There are methods of learning how to draw that are pretty different than the traditional method of going to art school and earning a degree. This course by Gabriela Niko is in-depth training that allows you to learn valuable methods for drawing that are available for everyone without needing to apply to an online course whatsoever. You'll complete three projects which in the end can give you skills that are more complete than you might expect.

Portrait Sketchbooking Explore The Human Face
Portrait Sketchbooking Explore The Human Face

Use this link to access Portrait Sketching at Domestika

To receive a 10% discount on your order submit the following code IMPROVEYOURDRAWING-10. Use this link

To give you a better idea of what this course is about, understand the newest level of online learning passed down from a trained art student. Gabriela Niko might not be on the tip of your tongue, but she has made significant steps using social media to gather incredible followers that have reached an impressive audience that covers over 246K in admiring viewers.

Here’s some info about her and why she has more than enough experience to be your online sketch booking teacher.

It should come to be no surprise that Poland is home to some very talented individuals that most of us around the world haven’t heard about. Gabriela Niko is better-known as a freelance artist these days, but she decided to take a drastic turn in her artistic skills. It should be no surprise that she comes from a family of artists. How many European families are raised.

In Poland, it's widespread that a family trade skill is passed down, much like a musical family specializing in classical music. You might say that it's in their blood. However, family members' skills are often taught and learned very early before they are sent to specialty schools if they show good skills. Gabriela had formally studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poland, which landed her a lucrative career in sports clothing.

Portrait Sketchbooking By Gabriela Niko
Portrait Sketchbooking By Gabriela Niko

Only 10 years of designing clothing for sports led Gabriela to leave her steady job to an incredible leap of going freelance in 2020. Using the power of Instagram, she now has garnished a heavy following with her art skills and a fair share of attractive sketches that get instant attention. Her work has received attention through her artwork commissioned in books, tattoos, and even logo designs!

Her real bread and butter are coming from her latest tutorial effort, which is getting a lot of attention since it helps to teach her style to a new generation of aspiring artists that want to learn what makes her emotional drawings so different.

Explore the Human Face With Sketching

Before you start with the course itself, there are specific sections of this training that you do need to know about. Since the name of the course is Portrait Sketchbooking: Explore the Human Face, you instantly understand that there's a leading focus on the face itself and is not any kind of introduction to human anatomy at all. 

So if you're looking to learn about skeletal posing and other in-depth anatomy is glossed over.

You will be learning the importance of sketching and sticking to a straightforward method of portrait sketching that is easy to learn with a few good tips. Use this link to access Portrait Sketching at Domestika

Drawing Facial Features

Unlike the basic rules of art school that teach methods that are taught to every art student about the history of sketching and the principles behind them, this drawing tutorial is a shortcut that gets right to the heart of becoming artistic. 

While most artists might frown upon this method, it’s technically not breaking any rules since many best artists are usually self-taught. What you can learn from this tutorial will be a great insider look at facial features.

As for making quick sketches that capture a moment of emotion, this is one method that will be helpful if you're on the go or making sketches of highly detailed people.

Drawing Techniques You Will Develop

Honestly, you want to take a course that will teach you some skills that will pay off at some point. This course is very open about what you will learn and how it will aid you in one of the most recognized images that we see every day. 

The human face may seem simple, but the complexity of drawing a likeness can be challenging in reality. This is one true gem of sketching that many artists don't cover when capturing emotions.

And while many courses cover posing and anatomy, these particular poses have always been the classical version of creating an impressive stance and overall character. 

This course is all about learning how to draw a human portrait that doesn’t require any previous drawing skills. It’s also a great hack for those who are working to improve their drawing skills and are on a tight budget at the same time.

Since this course is as essential and cost-friendly as you can expect, you still receive a certificate after it's completed. And for what most people pay for a couple of Starbuck's Frapuccino’s, you get to keep the info you purchase to view the whole 2-hour video tutorial and course.

Course Structure:

You won’t need to spend a lot of art materials on this project, but you will need to collect some items that will make this worthwhile if you’re serious about making portraits. 

Like any other artist, you can buy these items at any art center or from online shops that sell these items just as quickly. I recommend that you also look at clearance sales in the Dollar Store since these will be half the price you might pay at an official art supply center.

• How to Use Your Materials

To start with, you’ll need a good set of drawing pencils to go with a couple of sketchbooks in a binder. You also want to have a decent pencil eraser or putty that can remove heavier graphite from your paper before you decide to erase it completely.

The very last item is probably one that you already have, which is a smartphone or tablet. This makes it easier to view this course rather than using a home PC.

A smartphone is an essential tool in this course which you will use later to post pictures of your work and use an art app to clean up and add particular colorations and effects to finished sketches.

• Shading and Hatching

As you might expect, the basic rules and principles of sketching are nothing without the use of shading and creating subtle texture within your human portraits. The most significant step to making a realistic drawing is getting used to adding what is called hatching. 

These are multiple lines that are layered together to create a shadow effect. When these are blended together using a paper stump, a paper towel, or your finger, these can be smoothed out.

It’s part of the final touches that give any 2 dimensional drawing a more three-dimensional look and feel. But without knowing how these work, any 2D drawing will look flat and not very professional-looking. One of the critical skills you can learn from this tutorial is how hatching and crosshatching work to give you the best results. Use this link to access Portrait Sketching at Domestika

• Structure of the Head and Proportions

Drawing any portrait for human heads will start with a central line that gives you the fundamentals of correct proportions. You will learn how to gauge the right shape of a human head so you have most of the hard work completed before you can map out more details of the subject you’re drawing. This section will also show you what you need to know about drawing this central line on any angle to keep it artistically correct.

• Drawing Eyes

Eyes play an essential part in any sketch when it comes to drawing them, and you will learn how to get more emotion into your eyes. Any human eye will also be one of the most perplexing items since it's highly reflective since it's a rounded glossy object. You will learn how to get the right amount of shine and reflection, which will make your sketched eyes look much more realistic.

• Drawing Noses

Unlike the human eye, the nose will have a certain amount of shine using a specific amount of shading. It's also one part of the face that is more flexible than you might imagine and will move in ways that reflect emotion more when people are upset or enraged. You'll learn everything you need to know about drawing noses in this section so you can capture just the right amount of nostril flare or crinkling.

• Drawing Lips

Lips can be very sensual and are the voice of your sketch that can tell you a lot about who your sketch is all about. Lips will come in a variety of sizes and have complex shapes to give them character. 

You’ll also learn how shading will bring subtle details that make them come alive as if your portrait is saying something. It can also complete the overall attitude that a sketch might be missing that you’ll want to master in this section.

Main Project:

After you've learned many sketching tips and tricks to make any portrait easier to follow, you'll be ready to take on your first drawing projects. Among the main projects you'll tackle, there are three central sketches you will learn to create.

• Portrait Sketch

Portrait sketches aren't all the same, and all of these have angles that are all taught in art schools. These are simplified for the sake of this tutorial and give you three different poses that you can learn to make quickly and easily. All three of these portraits will be added to your sketchbook. This is why you want to have at least a couple of sketchbooks to practice with.

• Portrait Sketch: Profile 1 (wide angle)

This is one of the most straightforward portraits that allow you to draw any face viewed from the side. This is officially called a profile sketch, but most people will call this a side angle to keep it simple. If you're drawing any face from the left or right side, you won't focus on a centerline to keep the proportions correct. This is why this is the first drawing task that's given.

• Portrait Sketch: Profile 2- (¼ angle)

This angle will be slightly similar to a side angle but is more attractive since you see just a bit more of the human face. This does need a centerline, so you don't angle the eyes and facial details too wonky. Just like a cartoonist draws a character, you'll learn how to keep the shape of the face in scale as you learn to draw a portrait in 3D. While drawing any ¼ angled faces, you get an image that's always very stark and full of visual interest.

• Portrait Sketch: Profile 3- Face from the Front

To draw a human face from the front might sound boring without the emotion you put into it. It's also a great exercise in the lighting and shadows that make a full-frontal portrait seem exciting instead of seeing the whole face with no shadows at all. This is where you can learn how to make sketched faces take on more interest in return.

Documenting Your Work

It’s not enough to just have a finished sketch these days since you want to share it with others or upload a sketch in progress to show how much a sketch has developed. 

Using modern technology is the fastest way to show off and view your work instead of bringing your sketchbook with you everywhere. But you’ll learn a few tricks they don’t often share with you outside of art school.

• Photographing Your Sketches

If you’re pretty good at taking selfies, you can make quick pictures of your finished sketches to post online. But to get a perfect sense of where and how to publish your photos on social media, you want your work to get noticed right away. 

Instagram is one place where you can get a lot of exposure and feedback right away when using this platform. What you’ll learn in this section is how to get the right results you want to achieve.

• Editing with Snapseed

This course will give you an excellent explanation of how to use art apps such as the Snapseed photo app will improve the finishing touches of a completed sketch. 

You can use other apps, but to colorize and add special shading to your sketches, it doesn’t get any easier than what Snapseed can offer for free! It’s also packed with many features that you can download on any smartphone to make your sketches look more professional.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of improvedrawing.com and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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