Starting a portrait > eyes first?

i like to start my graphite portraits with the eyes then go to the block-in. This does not seem to be the popular way to go according to all the YouTube videos.
Any thoughts besides do what works for you about the pros and cons of this method thanks all tom

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Graphite can smear if your not careful where your drawing hand is, so as I think about it, most of the time I’m more likely to work top to bottom, or left to right. There are always exceptions of course. But I’m talking about the finished drawing. Are you talking about the initial sketch? In that case I personally trace my preliminary sketch because getting everything in exactly the right place and proportion can make or break a portrait.
Terri Robichon

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Hello Terri, thanks for the reply, I’m left-handed so i generally work right to left although i do drift around the paper a lot going back to different parts of the face as the drawing develops. I was referring to the initial start of the layout. I do use a piece of paper under my hand when i remember to avoid smudging. tom

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Hello Tomee43, I many times get a rough outline done to adjust porportions or do a transfer for layout. When shading i to usually start with the eyes. I find it usually gives a good range of value in a small space. Then I can compare with the rest of the drawing as I create. From there i usually work top left to bottom right (I’m right handed) and also use a towel to prevent smudges as well. The pupils of the eyes usually is one of the darkest values and the whites of the eyes even though not white, are a generally very light value. As I progress I start with light values and gradually get darker until I feel the value reaches the desired level within the value scale.


If you find that starting with the eyes first works for you, then stick with it, because it’s definitely acceptable. When drawing characters (after my initial shape bases), I sometimes start near the nose/eyes. Hope that helps! :smile:

You are the artist doing the work. Whatever works for you is fine.