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Review: Draw Better Portraits by Gary Faigin (Craftsy course)

Gary Faigin is an American artist, author, co-founder and Artistic Director of the Gage Academy of Art, Seattle. He's known for his popular book The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression.

Draw Better Portraits (72 minutes) is an online drawing course taught by Gary on the Craftsy platform.

This is actually the first of a series of portrait drawing courses. The other two are Drawing Facial Features (222 minutes) and Drawing Facial Expressions (148 minutes).

It's best to get all the three courses because they belong to the same series. That's over 7 hours of video tutorials on techniques. It's a great deal.

The course

Draw Better Portraits is an introductory course for beginners on portrait drawing.

There are four lessons, namely:

  • Recognizing People (16 minutes)
  • Mapping the Face (16 minutes)
  • Refining the Shapes (17 minutes)
  • Drawing Variations (23 minutes)

The goal of this course is to get you started with the fundamentals of portrait drawing. In the first lesson, he teaches you how people remember faces. It's quite an enlightening lesson for me because he showed examples of portraits of people with someone else's feature and yet you can still recognise the original person just based on the shape of the head itself. It's a light-bulb-going-off moment.

For next few lessons, he teaches the techniques of observational drawing with posed models. It covers how you should block in the big shapes, then move on to smaller parts to improve your sighting and drawing skills.

These four lessons covers only blocking in the big shapes. It doesn't go into detail for drawing features and expressions, which are taught in his other two lengthy courses. Even though the course doesn't go into specific features, you can already look at the examples and recognise instantly who are being drawn, and how the techniques actually work.

Gary has a way of teaching that's really simple and easy to understand. The instructions are easy to follow. His bubbly personality also makes the course quite enjoyable.

The benefit of the Craftsy platform is get to interact with the instructor and ask questions. However, for this free lesson, it seems that Gary doesn't respond much. But he's more responsive for the other two paid courses.

The course is free so just go get it on Craftsy.

I would also recommend the other two courses Drawing Facial Features and Drawing Facial Expressions.

Check out other video courses from Craftsy that I've featured at