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Babies and Young Children: Week 1

August 26, 2021

Baby Chris
Pencil

Over the next four weeks we’ll look at drawing and painting babies and young children, looking at infant heads the first week then whole baby forms and go on to consider toddlers and young children to about four years old for the second two sessions.  With drawing and painting babies and children the structures and tones need the same attention as in other portrait studies but an additional challenge is the soft touch needed to convey the softness and delicacy of children’s skin both with the tones and the colour.

Pastel, pencil, charcoal and watercolour will be used for the demonstrations but you are welcome to work in your preferred medium.

Sleeping Toby Five Days Old
Pencil
Note Toby had long spindly fingers that soon fleshed out into plump little baby ones!

Drawing baby heads.

The facial features and skulls of babies are not fully developed and their proportions are different from adult heads.  The facial features are smaller in regard to the space they occupy and only the iris of the eye is fully developed giving many babies that cute large eyed look.  The nose being of cartilage grows at a different rate to the bone of most of the skull and at the baby stage the nose is often slightly upturned.  The eyebrows are relatively lower than for an adult and the chin is smaller and tucked in so that it protrudes rather less than the lips.

1.  Find a photograph of a baby’s face that is looking straight toward the camera and work out the proportions of the face from the tip of the chin to the top of the head.  If you can see them also note the position of the top and bottom of the ears.

2. Do the same for a baby’s head seen in profile and also work out how the ears are positioned.

3. Draw and/or paint a baby’s head from your own reference.  Note whether the features lie on a curve if the head is looking up or down and pay special attention to how the proportions of the various elements change.  For example if the head is viewed from slightly below, more of the chin will be seen compared to the forehead and top of the head. 

As with adults the eyes will be about one eye width apart.  Unlike adults the baby nose and chin are shorter.  As with everything when you are making a representative drawing draw what you see not what you believe to be there.

Next week we will consider the whole baby figure.  However babies often play with their hands, sucking thumbs and chewing fingers, so also try to have a look at baby hands for this week’s session.

Some useful references can be found on the following Pinterest boards.

The first board (below) has useful guides to the proportions of infant to adult figures and also to drawing baby and toddler heads, hands and feet.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/jhall1282/portraits/babies-and-infants-drawing-tips/.

The second board (below) has a large collection of paintings and drawings of babies and young children. Some of these are simply beautiful studies. Others as in the Leonardo references at the end give information on the foetus before birth, and the drawings by Kathe Kollwitz give an idea of the plight of mothers and young children dispossessed by war and deprivation. Think about the study you wish to make, the character and mood of the child and circumstance. This will lead you to create a very personal work.

/https://www.pinterest.co.uk/jhall1282/portraits/babies-and-young-children/

First it is good to make as many drawings as you can from life and photographs to give you a good understanding of the structures and enable you to be more credibly creative. The blog posts will mainly feature drawing and colour will be demonstrated during the practical sessions. Do send a drawing or finished painting for review this week, and any work made during the session will be posted for review the following week.

Your finished drawings or paintings:

Sammy
pastel by Mali
Rosie
by Sarah
Rosie in a Brighter Mood
Watercolour by Sarah
Archie by Heather
Archie again
by Heather
Newborn
by Ann
Chester
by Ann
Margot and Lila
Watercolour by Maricarmen

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