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introduction

When it comes to drawing the human face realistically, there is no substitute for
practice. I can still remember as a boy in Vietnam being told by my art teacher that
I needed to practice each part of the face constantly. In my spare time, I used to fill
sheets of paper with eye after eye, until I was able to draw eyes realistically from
memory. Today, many people seem amazed by the eyes in my artwork, saying that
it’s the hardest part of the face to master. For me, though, I actually find it to be the
easiest part. This is what practice brings.

My goal with this book is to give you some guidance in your own practice. Inside,
you’ll find many example of each facial feature, depicting different facial character-
istics at different angles. I’ve broken each of these down so that you can see each
stage of my drawing. In some cases, I’ve shown some guides you can use to get
accurate proportions in your drawings. These guides are based on techniques first
popularized by illustrator Andrew Loomis. (I highly recommend his book for anyone
wanting to improve their drawing skills.) As you continue to practice, however, you’ll
find that you’ll gain a more intuitive sense for proper proportion, and you’ll be able
to skip the use of these guides.

Regardless of your preferred artistic medium, a mastery of drawing is the most im-
portant foundation for depicting the human form effectively. There are no shortcuts,
but you can get there with time and passion.

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before you start...
is time to sharpen your pencils

be careful! Don’t hurt yourself!

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Materials List

Conte a’Paris Pastel Pencil - Sepia or Sanguine

X-Acto Snap-Off Blade Utility Knife


for sharpening your pencils

General’s charcoal pencils (HB, 2B, 3B, 5B, 6B)

Blending stumps

Kneaded eraser

White Canson Drawing Paper

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facial features

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DRAWNG THE EYE - FRONT VIEW

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DRAWNG THE EYE - UPWARD LOOKING EYE

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DRAWNG THE EYE - THREE QUARTER VIEW

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DRAWNG THE EYE IN DIFFERENT POSITION

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DRAWNG THE EYE - SIDE VIEW

EYE DIAGRAM

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DRAWNG THE NOSE - FRONT VIEW

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DRAWNG THE NOSE - THREE QUARTER VIEW

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DRAWNG THE NOSE - SIDE VIEW

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DRAWNG THE LIPS - FRONT VIEW

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DRAWNG THE LIPS - THREE QUARTER VIEW

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DRAWNG THE LIPS - SIDE VIEW

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DRAWNG THE EAR - SIDE VIEW

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DRAWNG THE EAR - THREE QUARTER VIEW

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BEGINNING EXERCISES
for

human head
proportions

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FRONT VIEW

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THREE QUARTER VIEW

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SIDE VIEW

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INTERMEDIATE EXERCISES
for

human head
proportions

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MAN FRONT VIEW

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MAN SIDE VIEW

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WOMAN FRONT VIEW

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WOMAN THREE QUARTER VIEW

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WOMAN THREE QUARTER VIEW
LOOKING DOWNWARD

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WOMAN THREE QUARTER VIEW
LOOKING UPWARD

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MAN IN PROFILE

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YOUNG MAN IN PROFILE

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OLD MAN IN PROFILE

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BEARED MAN, THREE QUARTER VIEW

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BEARED MAN IN PROFILE

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BEARED MAN IN PROFILE

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advanced
drawing

the human head


w i h o u t g u i d e s

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PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG MAN - GRAPHITE

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PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LADY
GRAPHITE

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EVENING STARS
GRAPHITE

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PORTRAIT OF JENNY
CHARCOAL PENCIL ON TONED PAPER

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About Cuong Nguyen

Cuong Nguyen’s ability to highlight the beauty in the world


around him is something that informs his art as well as his
perspective. One might say that he represents the opposite
of the tortured artist cliché: despite the fact that his formative
years in Vietnam were characterized by significant hardship,
his sometimes romantic and sometimes mysterious portraits
and still life paintings reflect his positive outlook and deter-
mination to persevere.

Growing up in poverty after the fall of Saigon, Cuong’s great-


est pleasure was finding time to draw. At a young age, he
earned extra money for his family by doing street portraits,
and he was accepted to Saigon’s Academy of Art while in
high school. Even as a child, Cuong was fascinated by the
human face, and his single-minded practice of drawing eyes
and other features rewards us today with portraits that have
a spark of life to them.

His study at the Academy of Art in Saigon was interrupted when he had the opportunity to emigrate to the
U.S. in 1991, and the challenge of establishing himself within a new country and culture temporarily distracted
him from his love of fine art. He earned a degree in illustration from San Jose State University and established
a successful career as an icon designer with a prominent Silicon Valley Web company.

Ultimately, though, his passion for fine art resurfaced. It began first as a new hobby—participating as an artist
at public street painting festivals, creating ephemeral artworks as large as 16’ x 24’. Cuong soon established
a reputation for painting amazingly lifelike portaits on asphalt, and he was invited to participate in festivals
around the world. More importantly, though, this activity brought him back to painting, and he was soon
back in his studio endlessly refining his technique with more traditional media.

Cuong earned status as a Master Pastellist with Pastel Society of America, Distinguished Pastellist with the
Pastel Society of the West Coast, and Masters Circle with IAPS. He has had one-man shows at the Triton Mu-
seum and the Los Gatos Museum, both in California, and his work has been featured in both national and
international competitions exhibiting worldwide.

Cuong shares his techniques through workshops taught at his own studio in California as well as those hosted
by art institutes and ateliers elsewhere in the U.S. and throughout the world. For more information on Cuong’s
teaching schedule, visit his website at icuong.com.

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Stay tuned for
my video tutorial...
Coming Fall 2016.

© 2016 Cuong Nguyen. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions
thereof in any form whatsoever.

All product names are trademarks of their respective owners.

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