How to Draw Portraits

Rated 5.00/5 based on 1 review
How to Draw Portraits is a unique collection of techniques, terminology, and examples for the beginner and advanced graphite artist. Over one hundred illustrations support carefully reviewed explanations of elemental technique. Simulate skin texture with circularism. Find out how to draw hair, and how to break down complex shapes into simple abstract components. More
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About Jeremy Lee

spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy Lee, a Canadian, currently living in Australia. Jeremy has been drawing and painting for as long as he can remember. Jeremy grew up in various parts of England including the picturesque Cotswolds. He picked up a camera before 10 years old, and distinctly remembers starting his first significant artwork at the age of six.

Fascinated by colour, Jeremy spent many long nights and evenings learning the physics. It seems easy at first to explain why something is 'red' or 'green' but the more you look into it, the harder it becomes. As it happens, the study of colour leads you deep into quantum physics. This created an interest in electronics and he built an electronic organ at age 14. Around the same age, he sold many picture-sculptures to friends and family. While still at school, he created glass engravings and distributed them as wedding presents and sold them. He worked for several years as an assistant at Winchcombe Pottery run by Ray Finch. At the end of his tenure, Ray offered Jeremy an apprenticeship. At a crossroads in life, with opportunities as a full time potter or to pursue the Olympics as a gymnast, Jeremy decided that a long term career would be best served pursuing his love of science.

Jeremy now has a degree in electronics and is a certified internet security professional. This is what pays the bills and looks after his dependents and a large pole house that he built by hand over the last sixteen years; but his wife, children then art craft, and working with wood and generally "making things" takes the most prominent place in his life.
While in his early teens, he was disqualified from a local art and craft competition for 'cheating'. This, being a mystery and great source of irritation caused his parents to try and find out why and it turns out that the judges truly believed that the work was pre-bought and not constructed by a young man. Jeremy considered this a lesson in life, but is yet to work out what it is. Certainly, "Don't try your best" comes to mind, but that will never happen. A closet perfectionist at heart, he has to work at balancing effort and result.

In 1988, a painting of Jeremy's on display at a local shop was stolen. On the one hand, he considers that something of a back-handed compliment but on the other wonders why the customer felt that it was worth stealing but not paying-for.

"spOOk", "IamSpOOk" and "ButIamSpook" are usernames that he has used for years on the internet. It's almost become a brand, except there are more "spOOks" out there than you would expect which is why IamSpOOk was born, quickly followed by "ButIamSpOOk" when that got pinched too. Currently, Jeremy specialises in graphite portraiture and has built an international reputation among graphite portrait artists but also uses acrylics and oils, having learned many skills with oil paint from an artist from Brisbane in the late 1980s. Jeremy also likes to take photographs. "Window Face" was accepted into a prestigious art festival in Manly. Now that his major project is nearing completion - that is, the house which itself is a work of art, he is, once again turning to drawing and painting. Jeremy is offering portrait commissions at a typical market price, but acknowledges that supply and demand may well cause a price increase. This, of course is good news for early buyers.

Read Jeremy Lee's Smashwords Interview
Learn more about Jeremy Lee


How to Draw Portraits
How to Draw Portraits is a unique collection of techniques, terminology, and examples for the beginner and advanced graphite artist. Over one hundred illustrations support carefully reviewed explanations of elemental technique. Simulate skin texture with circularism. Find out how to draw hair, and how to break down complex shapes into simple abstract components.

Reviews of How to Draw Portraits by Jeremy Lee

Derek Browne reviewed on Jan. 22, 2017

Learn to Draw Portraits, by Jeremy Lee
Smashwords Edition, 2012. USD2.99

This is an excellent book. I do not make this judgement lightly, for excellence is rare.
I am a beginner in the art of putting graphite onto paper. I have looked at many, many books about drawing in pencil. None have impressed me as much as this has. Many beginners’ books on pencil drawing contain a few good ideas, but for the most part just recycle the usual elementary points; they are, frankly, a bit boring. Lee’s book is never boring. Many books on pencil drawing mix useful instruction with cliche, the obvious, or the uninteresting. Lee’s book is never cliched, never uninteresting. It gripped me like a first class thriller, stoked my enthusiasm and sense of wonder, and had me hopping up and down, wanting to try new things, yet wanting to carry on and read more.

I spent my working life as a university teacher of philosophy, and I’m very experienced in judging clarity and rigour in thought (we call it ‘marking essays’). Lee is a master educator. He never says anything that is silly, or muddled, or superficial. I have learned more from this book about techniques of pencil drawing than from any other book I’ve looked at. Some say Arthur Guptill is the master; but let’s face it, Guptill is boring, even for those, like me, who’ve spent half a life time reading old books. Lee is never boring. There is knowledge and understanding and clarity of judgement on every page. I am in awe of his understanding of the subject.

This is a book primarily about techniques of pencil drawing, and only secondarily about drawing human faces. What Lee demonstrates is that pencil drawings of human faces are a rich field for the study of techniques in pencil art in general, even if you are not really interested in portraits as such. There is so much to learn here, about using pencils to achieve pictorial realism and depth and artistic value.

Much in this book was new to me: the ways in which different angles at which the lead touches the paper can be used to create different effects; the effects of different shapes at the tip of the lead; how important is the texture of the paper, and the ways in which different strokes and different pencils and different pressures affect the qualities of the marks made; why it is a good idea to use copying techniques and technologies to get an accurate representation of the subject onto the paper, before the real artistic work begins; techniques for the layering of pencil marks and blending; the uses of mirrors; the shape of the pencil tip; the many differences between pencils of different grades, different grips and pressures; and so on and on.

There are wise judgement about the connections between (‘left brain’) understanding of techniques and (‘right brain’) creativity. I think he is absolutely right about this. Read him and be persuaded.
There are so many insights in this book that is tempting to quote and quote and quote again. Try these:
“What has an artist to do with a ruler! Well, it all comes down to this: You can do it the hard way or the easy way. It’s your choice.”
“The beginner requires success for motivation, and if measuring leads to early feelings of achievement, then do it, and don’t feel guilty about it no matter what you hear or read.”
“I don’t recommend a normal pencil sharpener, especially for expensive carbon pencils and softer pencils because it wastes lead. It’s much better to use a sharp craft knife. Obviously for young children and psychopaths, apply the proper amount of supervision.”
“You don’t actually draw the light. What you are really drawing is shadow.”

I’ve spent thousands of hours over four decades marking student essays and exams, and this has made me a hypercritical (some would say “pedantic”) reader; to my amazement, there is nothing in this book that makes me reach for my red pencil.

“Learn to Draw Portraits” is a humble title behind which lies an outstanding study of pencil techniques. Every beginner in pencil drawing who has serious aspirations will learn an amazing amount from it, as will most of those who are more advanced. Only in the most rarefied artistic circles will there be readers who know it all already.

And the book is ridiculously cheap. I would happily pay twenty times this much for it.

Derek Browne
(reviewed 3 days after purchase)
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