Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
How to Draw and Shade a Whimsical African American Face with Dreadlocks in Copics (#WhimsicalWomen 5)
Let's kick this week off with another fun FREE art lesson!!
In today's video, I'm going to teach you how to draw dreadlocks on a whimsical African American face, using copic markers and colored pencil. If drawing dreads or copic marker blending have been tricky for you in the past, today's face drawing tutorial is for YOU!
As you can see, today's beauty has lots of exciting challenges in store for our face drawing practice from how to draw dreads to shading with a variety of skin tone markers. If you're not sure how to blend copic markers - you're in luck, because I demo 3 different ideas to help you conquer the streaks that are SUPER common with copics / alcohol markers!
If you've struggled with how to draw curly hair, or if you're feeling intimidated by drawing dreads, don't worry- I was too at first, but it didn't take me long to come up with an EASY drawing / shading technique I liked.
I can't wait to show it to you!!
Ok!! Go grab some art supplies and meet me back here for the tutorial.
Before we continue, super quick announcement: All product links are Affiliate. I may earn a small commission if you choose to order through these links but by law there is never any additional cost to the consumer for doing so. I thank you for your support!
I'm working on hammermill cover cardstock because I've found it to be the best value at 4-8 cents per sheet when I get a box of 250 sheets on Amazon. The paper is perfect for working with alcohol markers!
To get this project going, I'm sketching in my whimsical face drawing guidelines, just like I always do. Remember to NEVER skip this part because it makes such a difference when you're trying to get drawing proportions of the face right!
While I sketch in some placeholders for the facial features, I also block in the main shapes I'm seeing in my art reference photo for this model's hair. Hair is a HUGE part of our lesson today ;)
The model in our reference photo today has gorgeous, HUGE eyes. If you're just learning how to draw faces, and struggle with getting your eyes to match - especially after you've got one you like and then don't know how to draw the other eye... I've got you!!
Here's my trick: If you "build" your eyes up at the same time while you're drawing, this can really help to make them even. I start with the tear duct lines and for whatever reason pencil that in on the right side, then do the same on the left. Then I go back to the right to draw in another line and do the same to the left side, until I've got two eyes staring back at me ready for more detail!
Not bad right? They're not a perfect match, but they're close enough for me because I'm just having fun, keeping things light and into teaching you how to draw and shade a WHIMSICAL face!
Once you've got your features all sketched in, go ahead and start erasing all of the guidelines. If you need a new eraser, or have been looking for one that does a super job but doesn't kill your paper, I LOVE my vanish eraser.
I have NO SHAME in using a circle template to draw in the irises and pupils, and neither should you!! Make something a little easier on yourself. We're just having fun :)
Isn't she looking pretty already?!
I LOVE her cat eye makeup and feel like it just needs to be penciled in asap!
I usually do this near the end, but I just can't wait :)
Once all your guidelines are erased, it's time to swatch your skin tone colors and start shading.
I know you may feel tempted to skip this step, but don't! It's super important and will save you! I don't know how many times I've reached for a marker or paint tube based on the cap / packaging - only to find out it looks COMPLETELY different on paper! So do yourself a favor and take the time to make yourself a little cheatsheet of the colors you have on hand for whatever supply you're using! Mine totally isn't fancy and was super quick to do, as you can see in the bottom left.
I'm purposefully NOT calling out the exact names for the marker shades I'm using because I have a MILLION alcohol markers and I don't expect you to and want you to just create with what you have. Don't get caught up in matching your colors to mine. Just work on the PROCESS I'm teaching you ;)
Today we're really focusing on the LAYERING PROCESS with our alcohol markers. More layers help to blend your streaks. I know it can feel like this takes quite a while, but just be patient and your shading will totally come together!
I started with my lightest skin tone today and used that almost everywhere, then slowly started building up my layers going through a variety of colors to catch the medium and eventually darkest of darks that I was seeing in my art reference photo.
Now!! If you have been following this series at all- you know I've been specifically calling out "the ugly phase" every single time it kicks in for me because you HAVE to know how common this is!!
If you look at the pic above- my girl IS IN IT big time!!
The ugly phase starts to kick in when you are about HALF way done. And while it can feel frustrating because she looks SO unfinished and it may feel like you're never gonna pull it all together, you have to be patient. KEEP GOING.
If you give up on your art when you hit this phase, the ugly phase will "win." Just IGNORE it and keep chuggin' full steam ahead!!
If blending your marker streaks is bugging you at this point in your project - remember you can totally use colored pencils on top at the end to help you out. This is going to get better as well - just keep layering. Watch the video and do what I do. Pause as much as you like!
Not sure how to blend copic markers?
When it's time to blend, I choose to work with one shade lighter than the lightest color I've used. Using this lighter marker, I'll lay down both a horizontal and vertical layer to "erase" the streaky marks in the transitional areas. If it's still not blending the way I want it to, I'll take the lightest shade marker I used, or go a shade up to a medium color to cover the entire face, both horizontally and vertically.
For this particular project, I decided to try something new and incorporated one of my favorite products I love for my mixed media portraits when I'm blending the shading and skin tones- my faber castell gelatos!
Even thought these are considered a "craft" product, I LOVE what they do in terms of blending. They're SUPER buttery and honestly did the job quicker and better than my colored pencils for larger face areas. They're super simple to blend with your finger and leave a smooth effect. Check out the upper right corner of the pic below...
You'll notice I also worked some light gray (alcohol marker) into the whites of my girl's eyes, and used a pale peach colored pencil on top of her eyelids to drop in some highlights.
Looking good!!! Remember to always take a step back to hold your drawing from a distance. Your eye will typically see something you want to adjust, and you'll probably also be more than a little amazed at what YOU have just accomplished!!
I feel like my girl's left eyebrow needs a little love, so I quick take care of that, then move on to some white highlights - like the eyeshine (which I think TOTALLY makes my girls "come alive!"). I also add a few taps to her lips and the white highlight down the center of her nose.
Now it's time for HAIR, but I have no idea how to draw dreadlocks!! LOL.
Not a problem! We've got this!!
I decided to get my pencil back out to sketch in the shapes I'm seeing in my reference photo. While I was sketching, I decided to try diving in with my marker using a circular movement, and I ended up LOVING the effect!
It gave me just what I was hoping for. Be sure you watch the video to see how this goes!
To give the appearance of texture, I experimenting with using a lighter colored pencil and did squiggly circles on top.
This is what it looks like up close...
When I pull the camera back, I kinda love the effect and feel like this technique for drawing dreads really helps to indicate the texture I see in the model's hair from my reference photo. Not bad, right?!
If you're not sure how to draw dreads, be sure to watch the video because I'm really happy with the simple technique I made up. I switched up my markers a bit as well and incorporated some black to indicate depth, as you can see below...
I can't wait to see how you do with this week's project!!
Please share your work with us in the Facebook Group or over on Instagram and use the tag #whimsicalwomen!
Remember I'd LOVE to include your interpretation of this project, or any of girls from my Whimsical Women of the World portraits in my upcoming book! Simply head over to GET PUBLISHED, read the submission requirements (they're easy, promise!!), and submit your artwork.
Thanks for hanging out with me! I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did!!
Founder of Awesome Art School. Mixed Media Artist. Author of 18 Instructional Art Books!
"Karen is flipping hilarious and she's very real...I like the way she teaches in a way that really gives you confidence, whether you're a beginner or advanced there's always something new to learn!"
- Elizabeth W.
What Fans Are Saying
Karen, you are absolutely fabulous! You make me feel like I can draw anything. I have recently retired and finally have the time to do some of the art that I have loved since I was in school. I am really at the beginning of my art journey and I hope to learn as much as I can. Thank you for all you do.