Drawing Portraits with Jake Spicer


A drawing is one of the most personal gifts you could give someone – whether it is a portrait of your mum, one of yourself or a drawing of brothers and sisters, it will always be meaningful.

It does, however, sometimes feel like a little too much pressure to make a perfect drawing that feels gift-worthy, so rather than just giving a drawing as a present, think about making a drawing with a loved one.

Whether you and your partner are confident artists or not, sitting down and making sketches of one another, or going out for a day to sketch together means you’re not just giving a gift, you’re sharing an experience.

Laughing together at the silly scribbles of a blind contour drawing and taking it in turns to sit for a sketches of one another give you time to look at your drawing partner through fresh eyes and make something together that will be more than just a picture.

It becomes a tangible memory shared between the two of you and whatever the outcome of that time drawing, the sketch will bring that time spent together to mind every time you look at it.

Blind contour drawing

Worried you can’t draw? Drawing isn’t just about making about a pretty picture – it is about taking the time to look. A blind contour drawing is a drawing made in a single continuous line without looking back at the paper. Take a pencil – put the tip of your pencil on that page and your eye on your mum and make a drawing in a single, continuous line without looking back at the paper. The drawing will come out looking ridiculous – but it allows you time to look, and works as a great warm up to a more conventional study.

A step-by-step portrait

Here’s a practical process for a 20 minute drawing in pencil or charcoal pencil.

Step 1

Start simple with big shapes for the mass of the head and jaw

Step 2

Lightly and roughly sketch in the position of the features, keep your eyes flicking back and forth as you draw

Step 3

Lightly rub out your first layers, so that you can just see the impression of the, left behind on the page, starting with the eyebrows

Step 4

Draw your way through the features – eyes, nose, mouth and chin

Step 5

Draw in the overall shape of the hair, and add a little tone to drawing

Step 6

Draw in personal details – hair, earrings and clothing for a finishing touch.


This blog has been compiled by Jake Spicer, Derwent Ambassador and all work has been completed by Derwent Charcoal Pencils. You can find out more about his work at http://www.jakespicerart.co.uk/ or visiting his social media channels @BrightonDrawing