If you want to draw graphic pencil portraits of children, you will want a good guide. There are very few books on the market devoted specifically to drawing kids. Secrets to Drawing Realistic Children, by Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks, is one of the best.
Like all good art instruction books, this one begins with a discussion of the tools. Or, in this case, the “Art Toys,” as they call them. Pencils are the first thing looked at, and they also show how to use a lead holder, something I hadn’t learned before.
Erasers come next, followed by other necessary tools, such as blending tools, erasing shields, and circle templates. “The only way you’ll achieve eyes this nice is with a circle template,” they write.
They discuss basic drawing techniques, and then photos, which you will be using for reference, and how to solve some typical problems. One is how to edit a photo, like taking out a hat, if you don’t want it, for example. They also talk a bit about composite drawings, when you make a new drawing by putting two subject together, using two separate reference photos.
The information on proportions is key to realistic drawing, especially when you do portraits of people. One tiny feature can be off by just a line or a shadow, and your drawing stops looking like your subject.
There are tips for working with baselines, a proportional divider, and grids. Then there are more tips on facial foreshortening, with some excellent examples.
The large final section of the book takes you through each and every feature of the face. There are multiple drawings to exemplify the parts, with their proper anatomical names. Especially helpful is what kinds of mistakes people typically make, and how to correct them. This section alone will help whether you draw children or adults.
There are also multiple helpful hints and tips for drawing things that give most people trouble, like lips, glasses, teeth, and hair. Finally, there are brief notes on clothing, props, light and shading, and capturing personality in your drawings.
This is a great book for artists wanting to draw children’s heads, but not so much their bodies. There are no bodies covered, so you’d need to consult other books for that. And all the drawings are pencil only, with no color. But as far as drawing portraits of kids is concerned, Secrets to Drawing Realistic Children, by Carrie Stuart Parks and Rick Parks does a fabulous job.
By Alina Niemi
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