Sketching Portraits (Tuesday Evening)

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Spend six weeks with one of the UK’s leading drawing teachers, Jake Spicer, as we cover the fundamentals of portrait drawing, combining practical observational skills with focused examination of the elements that make up a face…

The aim of the course is to help you to establish a competent and responsive portrait drawing practice, helping you to make clearer observations and more confident mark-making.

  • Learn from our world-class experts wherever, whenever: watch classes live or view the recording later in your own time.

  • Time to explore: 12 hours of live classroom sessions over six weeks.

  • Consolidate your learning: watch over 20 specially commissioned How To videos to support your course. Receive feedback from the class tutor on your work.

  • Deepen your understanding: weekly Spotlight Sessions with V&A Curators, Art Historians and practicing artists explore the background to the projects.

  • Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials are available for six weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a minute.

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course photo

Workshop Leader
Jake Spicer

Jake is a visual artist, author and educator. He is head tutor of 'Draw' in Brighton, which he founded in 2009, and a co-director of 'The Drawing Circus'. Jake has written a series of best-selling instructional books, and is a regular tutor with, among other, the V&A and Cass Art as well as Derwent Pencils, for whom he is an ambassador.

Jake's friendly, encouraging teaching and how to videos have reawakened my abilities and joy of drawing portraits. Previous V&A Academy Online Student

Course overview

Week 1: An introduction to sketching portraits. We'll start with the skills and attitudes that underpin observational portrait sketching, starting with energetic exercises to establish drawing as a regular habit.

Week 2: Turns & tilts of the head. Next we'll look at the challenges associated with drawing the head from different angles, exploring turns of the head and tilts back and forward.

Week 3: The neck & shoulders. Often overlooked in favour of the face, we'll focus on the contribution that the head and shoulders make to the expression and structure of a portrait.

Week 4: Structural features: nose & ears. Next, we'll zoom in on the features, looking at how the nose and ears contribute to our understanding of structure in the head and how we can use their shape and position to improve the proportions of our drawings.

Week 5: Expressive features: mouth & eyes. We'll take a look at expressive features of the face, the seat of likeness and identity in a portrait.

Week 6: Hair & clothing. We'll conclude the course with an exploration of the shape and texture of hair and clothing followed by a wrapping up of all of the elements we have covered.


V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

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Online course: Sketching Portraits (Tuesday Evening)

6 June 2023 - 11 July 2023


Call to book +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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Header image: Jake Spicer