How to Learn to Draw Famous People

Written by karen adams
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How to Learn to Draw Famous People
Use graphite pencils for more professional sketches. (draw portrait pencils image by PinkShot from

Drawing a celebrity's face is all in the details. All famous people have features that make them unique and draw attention to their faces. Madonna's mole, as well as a wild fashion sense, sets her apart from other celebrities. Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Nixon and Brad Pitt all have distinct characteristics that recreate in the pencil drawing to show off their famous qualities. Using proportion and basic drawing techniques, drawing a famous person requires a little skill and time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sketchbook
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Celebrity photo

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  1. 1

    Find a clear photo of your celebrity. The best photo of your celebrity is a straight-on look with the full face showing. Choose a popular reproduced image so that others recognise the celebrity from the photo in your drawing.

  2. 2

    Sketch an oval shape lightly with a pencil for the outline of the face. Next, draw a light vertical line down the centre of the oval face, then draw a horizontal line in the upper portion of the oval as the eye line. These proportion lines will help you place the different areas of the celebrity's face such as eyes, nose cheekbones, mouth and chin.

  3. 3

    Draw a line between the eye line and the chin or bottom of the oval to mark the bottom of the nose. Then draw a small line between this line and the bottom of the chin for the mouth.

  4. 4

    Start at the eye line and use the photo of the celebrity to sketch their eyes. Outline the basic shape of the eyes first, then draw the basic shape of the eyebrows above the eyes.

  5. 5

    Draw the basic shape of the celebrity's nose on the vertical line between the eyes and mouth, paying attention to the line you drew for the bottom of the nose. Now draw the basic shape of the mouth below.

  6. 6

    Erase the lines you first created after you finish drawing the basic details. Frame in the oval with the basic shape of the famous person's hair. Widen or narrow the jaw according to your celebrity's face shape.

  7. 7

    Start to fill in more defined features of the celebrity's face. Use a darker pencil and start back at the eyes and fill in the shape, including pupil, iris, eyelashes, and shine. Add hair to the eyebrows, shade in around the eyes to recreate the shadows of the picture. Shade in around the nose and mouth to add definition and detail. Emphasise certain characteristics of the celebrity such as moles, freckles, upper lip, heavy mouth or high cheekbones.

  8. 8

    Add texture to the hair with fine and close strokes starting at the top of the forehead. Create the hairline of the celebrity, shading where the hair falls naturally darker and adding in tight strokes to define strands of hair throughout. See references section for step-by-step video tutorials, speed drawings, and other celebrity sketches.

Tips and warnings

  • You can cheat using tracing paper to create the basic shape of the celebrity's face. Place a sheet of tracing paper on top of your celebrity's photo. With a pencil, outline the major details of the face's shape. Once finished, flip the tracing sheet over and shade lightly with your pencil around the back of the outlines. Place the shaded side down on top of a blank sheet of paper. Retrace your celebrity's face shape on the tracing paper and then remove the tracing paper to see your basic face shape on the paper. Now you just fill in the details.

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