Note: We have created an updated blog post with more Face Reference for drawing

photo album face reference for portrait drawing

If you’re taking part in our February Faces Challenge you may have already downloaded our Face Reference pdf (via our newsletter or Facebook Group). Here are some additional suggestions for finding reference faces for portrait drawing practice.

1. Your old photographs with faces of friends and family

The first, and easiest option is to have a look through your own photos. You may already have some perfect shots of friends and family either stored digitally or in old photo albums. Plus, it’s a great chance to have a wander down memory lane at the same time.

2. Draw some self portraits

The world may have gone selfie mad, but here’s a way to put those selfies to good use. Photograph yourself making different expressions, wearing hats and sunglasses or face paints. Or if you prefer to keep it simpler just sit in front of a mirror and draw yourself that way.

3. Portraits of people on the TV

A constant source of faces for sketching practice at the flick of a button. If you have a TV that you can pause, that’s perfect. Just wait for the person’s face to be in a position you want and pause the screen. If you haven’t got the pause feature, check out News Readers who will remain on the screen in a relatively static position. You may find you have to draw in stages as you wait for them to re-appear back on the screen. Remember, that if you do choose to draw people on the TV, you should only use it for practice, not for commercial purposes. Otherwise, you may be infringing on copyright.

4. Find Faces on Paint my Photo

Paint my photo is a place where artists can find and share their photos to be used as art reference. Any photo may be used to create (non-digital) art without worrying about infringing on copyright. This means that if you find a face you want to draw or paint, you will also be able to sell your art as well.

5. Free face photos on Pixabay

On Pixabay you can find free photos to use in any way, even commercially without attribution. There is a slight caveat here. If you intend to draw or paint a person and sell the work, you will also need to check that the photographer has a signed “model release”. A “model release” simply means that the photographer has the person’s permission to take and use their photo. If you are simply looking for faces to practice your drawing and painting, there is a lot to choose from.

6. Free portrait photos on Unsplash

Unsplash has some beautiful photography including faces. I am blown away that the photographers will allow us to use their amazing photos for free. As with Pixabay, if you are using the face images for practice there shouldn’t be any issues. If however, you do want to use the face photos to create commercial art, double check copyright and model releases with the photographers in question.

Happy drawing, we look forward to seeing the faces you create for February Faces.

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