20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (2024)

Discover and explore new drawing styles and techniques to create expressive portraits that capture your subject’s personality with these expert-led courses

If you’re looking to upgrade your drawing skills for the new season, portraiture is a fantastic medium to explore. From the Mona Lisa to the Girl with a Pearl Earring, the significance and allure of portraiture is just as alive today as it has been throughout history.

But how can you build this creative practice into your busy routine? For the motivation of a life drawing class combined with total flexibility, discover 10 realistic portrait painting courses below. With simple and accessible step-by-step guidance, you’ll learn the basics of anatomy drawing for heads and faces, how to capture authentic expressions, and more.

Online courses to learn the basics of portrait drawing

1. Fundamentals of Portrait Drawing with Pencil, a course by Matt Smith

If you’re just starting to explore the art of portraiture, this course by artist and teacher, Matt Smith, is a great place to kick things off.

In his introduction to the basics of portrait drawing, Matt teaches you how to sketch a portrait step by step—starting with how the head is built, from defining the initial proportions of the facial features to adding final details. You’ll also explore a wide range of drawing techniques including the use of basic shapes, line work, and shading.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (1)

2. Figure Drawing: The Human Head, a course by Zursoif

Artist Miguel Bustos Gómez (aka @zursoif) has spent years studying human anatomy, learning how to draw it accurately and in incredible detail.

In this course, he teaches you how to draw the human head, equipping you with the techniques and skills to draw it from different viewpoints based on anatomical structures and measures.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (2)

Online courses to illustrate realistic portraits in color

3. Realistic Oil Portraits: Conveying Detail and Expression, a course by Alan Coulson

Oil paints have been popular among artists for centuries as a tool to create realistic and vivid artworks—which is also why they’re the medium of choice for portrait artist Alan Coulson (@alancoulsonartist). Over the past 15 years, he’s received three BP Portrait Awards from London's National Portrait Gallery, and has created artworks for publications like The New York Times Magazine.

In his realistic oil portraiture course for beginners, he teaches you how to paint a portrait from start to finish using oil paints. Step by step, you’ll learn how to depict and define facial features and add details to create a life-like portrayal of your subject.

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4. Realistic Chalk Pastel Portraits, a course by Maximiliano Bagnasco

From instantly recognizable features like the eyes to the smallest of smile lines, it’s the hundreds of details in every face that make each one unique. Portrait artist Maxi Bagnasco (@maxibagnasco) is well-trained in detecting and transferring these details to his works, creating portraits that uncover the essence of his subject.

In his course, you will learn how to create hyper-realistic portraits using chalk pastel. Working from a reference image, familiarize yourself with the basics of picking out details—skin tones, shapes, proportions, etc—before learning how to use color, light, and shadow to realistically replicate these elements in your drawing.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (4)

5. Realistic Portrait with Colored Pencils, a course by Néstor Canavarro

An illustrator and graphic designer with a career spanning 30 years, Néstor Canavarro (@nestorcanavarro) has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He creates incredibly detailed portraits that imitate photographs.

In his course, Néstor will teach you his traditional technique to draw realistic portraits using colored pencils. Working from a reference photograph, you will learn technical aspects of this illustration style, as well as how to work with different materials and methods.

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6. Female Portrait Drawing with Pastel and Coloured Pencils, a course by Elena Pancorbo

Elena Pancorbo (@elena_pancorbo) is an illustrator who specializes in realistic drawing, working for various publishers such as Planeta, Penguin Random House, and Anaya. She focuses predominantly on female portraiture, and her style is characterized by the use of pastel and colored pencils.

In her female portrait drawing course, she teaches you her creative process for creating a realistic illustration with your own distinctive style.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (6)

Online Courses to learn black and white portrait drawing techniques

7. Realistic Portrait with Graphite Pencil, a course by Diego Catalán

Graphite is a fantastic medium for recreating the shadows, highlights, and other details needed to capture the various elements of human anatomy in detail. An expert in artistic anatomy, painter Diego Catalán (@diego_catalan) uses various techniques in his work, but he finds graphite pencil allows the greatest potential for creating expressive portraits.

In his course, you will learn how to create a realistic portrait with pencil. Diego runs through a wide range of technical concepts, including techniques for composition, head anatomy, and adding texture.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (7)

8. Portrait Drawing with Pencil: Capture Authentic Expressions, a course by Sam Brisley

The human form is incredibly complex, providing a source of constant learning and exploration for those who seek to capture it. For portrait artist Sam Brisley (@bris1985), the challenge of recreating these complexities is what he loves most about portraiture.

In his course, he teaches you how to draw authentic facial expressions for impactful portraits that honestly capture your subject’s likeness. First, you’ll build a strong foundation for your portrait by learning how to draw correct proportions using the Loomis method, then you’ll explore techniques for adding details, such as defining bone and muscle structure to make your expressions pop.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (8)

9. Realistic Portraits with Charcoal, a course by Xavier Denia Valls

Learn how to create striking black and white charcoal portraits with Xavier Denia Valls (@xavi_denia). For Xavi, art is an investigative process; it’s about discovering different ways to communicate a message. He applies this philosophy to his portraits, creating meaningful works that speak to their audience.

In his course, you will learn how to draw a realistic portrait using charcoal. Starting from scratch, discover the key features of charcoal portraiture to create a piece that’s packed with feeling.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (9)

10. Powerful Portraits with Charcoal: Creating Atmosphere, a course by Sarah Stokes

An atmospheric charcoal portrait can captivate an audience and awaken their senses—which is what self-taught illustrator Sarah Stokes’ (@sarah_stokes) powerful portraits do.

In her course, she will show you how to draw a powerful charcoal portrait using innovative techniques. Working from a reference photograph, learn how to create captivating and unique compositions by experimenting with vegetal charcoal and everyday supplies like cotton swabs and nail varnish remover.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (10)

11. Realistic Portraits with Pen, a course by Joaquin Rodriguez

Imagine being able to represent the essence of a human being with a tool as common and simple as a pen. With the help of graphic artist @Joaquín Rodríguez, whose work has been exhibited in galleries throughout Europe, you can learn how to create powerful portraits full of personality and style in this course on creating realistic portraits with pen.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (11)

12. Realistic Illustration with Colored Pens, a course by Javi al Cuadrado

In this course on learning realistic illustration with colored pens, painter, illustrator and graphic designer, Javi al Cuadrado, will teach you how to use colored pens to make incredible drawings with strokes that could be compared to a classic engraving. To do this, you will start from a photograph and using analog and digital techniques, you will discover, in an intuitive and simple way, how to turn it into an illustration that, later, you will transform into a final editorial art.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (12)

13. Graphite Drawing Techniques for Planar Portraiture, a course by Dan Thompson

Drawing people and portraits is an opportunity to tap into a centuries-old tradition and continue the legacy of the talented creatives before us. In this course you’ll learn how to use structural forms with multiple planes to create experimental pencil portraits from observation of the human figure in this course on graphite drawing techniques for planar portraiture with artist and teacher @danthompsonart

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (13)

14. Contemporary Hyperrealistic Portraiture, a course by Luiz Escanuela

In this online course, Contemporary Hyperrealistic Portraiture, learn the foundations of hyperrealistic painting and compose your own piece using a photo as a reference with visual artist @luizescanuela

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15. How to Create Fine Line Vector Portraits, a course by Matt Curtis

Jump into the fun world of digital drawing with Matt Curtis, your go-to for cool vector art seen on all sorts of gear, from tees to magazines! In his Domestika course, Matt shares how to make awesome, dramatic portraits with Adobe Fresco. Perfect for beginners ready to get digital, you'll sketch, ink, and detail your way to an amazing black and white portrait. Grab your tablet and stylus, and let's dive into creating some digital magic together

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16. Expressive Oil Portrait Painting: Color and Gestures, a course by Anetta Lukjanova

Join Anetta Lukjanova on Domestica for a transformative journey into portrait drawing, where traditional meets digital. Annette's course, perfect for those with a basic grasp of drawing and oil painting, teaches you to blend classic techniques with digital artistry to create vibrant, expressive portraits. Learn from a seasoned artist celebrated for her figurative realism and innovative approach, as she guides you through color theory, digital composition, and the nuances of oil painting.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (16)

17. Pencil Portraits: Light, Shadow, and Proportion, a course by Juan Perednik

Join Juan Perednik in our engaging online course to transform pencil sketches into expressive portraits. Juan teaches you the basics of structure and lighting, empowering you to create lifelike drawings with simple tools. Perfect for artists at any level, this course concludes with a graphite pencil project that brings your portraits to life, using just pencil and paper. Discover the simplicity and depth of portrait drawing with us.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (17)

18. Vibrant Portrait Drawing with Colored Pencils, a course by Gabriela Niko

Explore portrait drawing in our online course by Gabriela Niko. Learn to experiment with colored pencils, mastering color theory and facial proportions to craft semi-realistic portraits. From choosing the right reference photo to applying vibrant hues, this course empowers you to bring expressive, colorful faces to life in your sketchbook. Ideal for artists looking to add depth and diversity to their work.

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19. Digital Fantasy Portraits with Photoshop, a course by Karmen Loh

Join Karmen Loh in our engaging Domestika course on crafting digital fantasy portraits. With her experience in game design and a unique style that blends femininity with whimsy, Carmen offers insights into creating art that captivates and tells a story. Ideal for artists with basic drawing skills, this course covers everything from Photoshop basics to advanced rendering techniques. Learn to infuse your portraits with fantasy elements, bringing your imaginative visions to life.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (19)

20. Intro to Portrait Sketching: Draw in Real-Time, a course by Bill Robles

Join Emmy-nominated Bill Robles in our online course, where the legendary courtroom artist teaches quick sketching techniques using pens, colored pencils, and markers. From capturing high-profile trials to illustrating iconic figures like Mark Twain, Bill shares his secrets to on-the-spot illustration, including live portrait drawing and architectural sketching. Ideal for artists aiming to bring energy and precision to their work, this course promises to refine your ability to capture the essence of any moment swiftly.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (20)

English version updated by @amyvsnelling.

More resources to practice portrait drawing

There’s never been a better time to learn about this rich and powerful art form—discover even more below.

1. There are all kinds of portraiture to try, and Domestika’s portrait illustration courses can take you from pencil sketch to experimental, digital painting. Learn in your own time, revisit the courses whenever you want, and make the rest of this year count!

2. Explore tips and techniques for illustrating faces and expressions in these tutorials for portrait drawing and character design.

3. Want to upskill quickly? Learn how to draw a realistic eye in Procreate with this free iPad tutorial.

20 Best Online Portrait Drawing Courses in 2024 | Blog | Domestika (2024)
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