Drawing 50 Portraits and What I Learned From This Challenge


I attempted doing Ahmed Aldoori’s 100 Heads Challenge and obviously, I didn’t quite get to a hundred, I only drew 50 portraits, but I did learn quite a few things throughout the process. I’ve mentioned in my previous studio vlogs that I’m learning how to draw people so I thought that doing this challenge would be a good way to improve my skills or at least discover what I need to work on.

If you’d rather watch me drawing the 50 portraits, I have a video version of this as well:

The original rules by Ahmed was to draw a hundred heads in 10 days using the reference images in his Pinterest board. The original purpose was to get better at drawing different types of people or faces. However, because my skill level in drawing is that of a beginner, I tweaked the rules quite a bit. I created my own Pinterest board and filled that with portraits that I wanted to draw which were mostly Asian faces, both men and women. Instead of drawing a hundred heads in 10 days, my goal for this challenge is really to just to draw 50 portraits, that’s it.

The tools I’m using for this challenge are quite simple:

01. Set yourself up for success.

Based on my own experience, I knew that drawing a hundred portraits in 10 days was too much for me. As a beginner, I’m at this point where I take a lot of time figuring out how to draw something and making many corrections. Drawing 10 portraits a day would be too much for me and knowing myself, I would give up. That’s why I tweaked the rules; I wanted to set myself up for success.

A hundred was too much, so I did fifty. My schedule is all over the place these days so I didn’t really stick to a time limit of 10 days. You can say that I’m missing the whole point of this challenge which brings me to the next lesson…

02. Know what you want to take away from the challenge.

One thing that I put a lot of thought into was what I wanted to learn or take away from this challenge. Obviously, drawing a hundred portraits in 10 days is an incredible feat and it goes without saying that you’ll definitely improve by the end of the challenge. However, as a beginner, I wanted to be more specific about what I want to get out of this process.

I wanted to learn how to draw Asian faces and I wanted to figure out which parts of the face I have the most trouble drawing. For this reason, I curated my own reference images and filled my Pinterest board with Asians. In the future, I would want to learn how to draw non-Asian faces but for now, this is what I wanted to focus on.

After drawing many portraits, I’ve learned that I’ve gotten a lot better at getting the general face shape down but I’m having trouble with eyes and lips. Noses are so-so, sometimes I get it right, sometimes it takes a few tries. I have a loooong way to go with shadows and depth.

These are the little things that I’m discovering about myself and my abilities which help me figure out what to study more of later on. When you have a clear understanding of what you want this challenge to do for you, it makes sense to adjust the rules and make it work for your specific goals.


03. This is a creative exercise, not a competition.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you come across a portrait that you can’t seem to get right no matter how many times you redraw it, leave it and move on.

When you encounter the limits of what you can do with your current level, don’t beat yourself up for it. Instead, recognize that this is an opportunity for you to grow and improve as an artist.

This challenge is not a competition, you are free to just move on and start over with a new portrait. There were definitely many drawings here where I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome but I’m not going to help myself if I give up so I have to keep moving, I have to keep drawing.

Overall, this challenge was definitely a challenge, despite all the tweaks I made with the mechanics. I did notice improvement closer to the 50th portrait but the most valuable takeaways from this challenge was the drawing practice and knowing more about what I can do well and what I need more mileage on.

The 50 Portraits

I learned so much about drawing portraits these past few days so I definitely recommend doing this challenge for yourself and revising the rules to make it work for you.

Have an awesome week, remember, keep creating!

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