Sketching Portraits (Tuesday afternoons)

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. Expect weekly live tutorials and hands-on feedback from Jake, as well as specially recorded video lessons and weekly 'Spotlight' sessions with artists and V&A curators, focusing on what we can learn from the wonders of the V&A's collection.

Note: this session takes place on a Tuesday afternoon, 2pm-4pm GMT. For the evening version, please head back to the course listings.

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course photo
Portrait of Course leader Jake Spicer

Course 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.

Very relaxed and inclusive - a very enjoyable way to learn a new skill. 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.


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Online course: Sketching Portraits (Tuesday afternoons)

1 November 2022 - 6 December 2022


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 9.30 - 17.30, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

Background image: Jake Spicer