– when drawing a portrait it is very important to consider the direction, quality and intensity of the light falling on the model.

– when drawing a portrait it is better to use natural light and to have only one source of lighting

– good lighting must highlight the physio-gnomic characteristics of the subject

don’t use light source that are too close to the subject and therefore, too intense: it’s better to use diffuse light that does not create dark shadows, especially under the nose, lips and eyes.

– to make the light more diffuse you can place a frosted glass in front of the source or use one of the well-known photographic devices

– in the examples below (Photo by Giovanni Civardi) you will see how light influences the subject’s characteristics:

From left to right and up tot down:

1. Top lighting

– it is effective but be careful with the shadows under the nose, eyes and lips

– this light can exaggerate the reliefs, depressions and the wrinkles of the skin


2. Side/back lighting

– it distorts the view on the shape of the face

– it can be used when the head is in profile: the dark part of the head is silhouetted against the light background and the light part against the dark background



3. Lighting from below

– it is dramatic

– it distorts the characteristics of the face


4. Front lighting

– it flattens the details of the face

– it is suitable for decorative portraits


5. Side lighting

– it’s not ok to use it because it divides the face into two sides: dark and light and they will have a strong contrast

– the good part is that it can create a strong relief


6. Almost back lighting

– it makes the figure hardly recognizable

– it can work for a portrait where the face is in profile


7 and 8. Angled lighting from above, midway between front and side

– it’s the type of lighting most widely used in portraiture because it’s the best lighting

– it’s a plastic light, effective and puts in value the characteristics of the face

– the two photos vary slightly in the distance and inclination of the light source

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