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Discover Art With Sandra

5 Tips for FAB Portraits

Posted by Sandra Angelo on

In January I'm teaching a 90 minute workshop jam packed with tips, tricks and shortcuts and even a LIVE critique. 

Click here to sign up for my workshop at this SUPER LOW price!


One of the most amazing parts of my job is watching mediocre artists become Masters…especially when the transformation happens really fast!

Today, I’m going to share a few common mistakes that amateurs make and how you can avoid them.

From Amateur to Master from Sandra Angelo on Vimeo.

What Amateurs Do That Masters Don’t

Carol Leather drew this portrait of her granddaughter before signing up for my course. (left)

On the right, you see the vast improvement she made, drawing the same girl.

Here are some things she did wrong BEFORE my course and simple tricks she learned to do RIGHT in my course. The improvement is so dramatic with just a few shifts in knowledge.

1. WRONG: She put the eyes in the center of the face, which is not where eyes line up on a child's face. Her proportions were off. so the likeness eluded her and she aged the little girl.

  • o RIGHT: As people age, eyes move to different positions
  • o RIGHT: She placed the eyes in the right part of the face so you can see the correct age of the little boy and the girl too.

2. WRONG: She used just 2 pencils instead of a wide range multifarious tones found in natural hair.

  • o RIGHT: Even blond hair has super dark values.
  • o RIGHT: In her final portrait she used 12-18 pencils to create depth in the hair.

3. WRONG: She used just one pencil for the skin tones, which makes the face look flat.

  • o RIGHT: In her second portrait, she used 12-18 pencils to help the face take on dimension.

4. WRONG: She used white paper.

  • o RIGHT: It takes 200% longer to draw portraits on white and results tend to be wimpy.
  • o RIGHT: Your portrait paper needs to be in harmony with skin tones.
  • o RIGHT: Clothing needs to be in harmony with the paper.

5. WRONG: Her photo reference didn't capture the child's personality.

  • o RIGHT: It's tricky to get great shots of a moving target, like kids, but there are some really cool ways to make that happen!
  • o RIGHT: I taught her how to take better photos to capture the child's personality and the drawing here on the right shows how she improved. This portrait of her grand daughter shows how attached she is to her doggy, a true reflection of her personality.
    • Carol went on to win the GOLD STAR Award of Excellence in Drawing as a result of what she learned in my portrait program.
  • In my upcoming workshop, What Portrait Masters Do that Amateurs Don't, I'll share numerous secrets for shooting better photos for GREAT portraits. Click here

In January, I'm opening up a NEW Portrait College and I want you to try it to see if you like it... so I'm putting on a 90 minute webinar jam packed with tips, tricks and shortcuts and even a LIVE critique.

If you want your art critiqued, email it to me by Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. PST and if it fits the course content, you might get a free critique. 

Email a JPEG file of your wobbly graphite portrait to:


Click here to sign up for NEW workshop at SUPER LOW price!

Hurry... space is limited!

Join me for this sneak peek, so I can help you dramatically improve your art like I did with Carol Leather. She is now a graduate of my Portrait Apprenticeship Program, and the last I checked, she was working on her 7th. lucrative commission and loving drawing.

Have a Merry Christmas and watch for more tips coming soon...

  • how to draw faces