Portrait Drawing with Markers & Pens

Portrait drawing and marker art by Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

I’ve become pretty marker-and-pen obsessed lately.

I drew this portrait of a cherished friend over the holidays as a gift for a dear friend and can’t get enough of how fun the drawing process was while using POSCA markers and a variety of brush pens.

It all began with a simple sketchbook cover.

My friend is an avid sketchbook user so for the holidays, I wanted to highly personalize a standard sketchbook for her future use. The cover of the sketchbook, I had decided, would feature my friend’s beautiful face 🙂 Additionally, the back cover and sketchbook spine would also showcase some kind of personalized art as well.

My cover art drawing process & supplies

(1) After identifying the drawing intent (a portrait of dear friend), I then selected the reference photo I’d use for this sketcbhook cover drawing.

(2) From there, I gathered my drawing tools, which included the following:

  • POSCA markers
  • MICRO brush pens
  • Oil white marker
  • White gel pen
  • Sketchbook

(3) Next, I began to draw my friend’s general face shape on the sketchbook cover using one of the white gel pens. This effort did not come out perfectly on the first try; I made several errors along the way but easily corrected them using a black marker over any white-gel-penned-mistakes. The black marker ink covered up my white gel strokes pretty well and at any rate, I knew I’d be adding in the hair curls and other details which would also cover up any faux pas.

(4) Once I had the general face shape and features drawn, I then began to refine the drawing with my black brush pens. Errors during this phase were corrected using the white gel pen, then redone in black ink.

(5) At this stage, I began to layer in the hair using a medley of POSCA markers. This was time consuming as it took me a while to lock down the hair curls in a way I felt were visually sufficient and ample to portray a certain volume and thickness.

(6) Next, I began to add the “skin color” in white oil pen. I used my fingers to smudge the oil ink around her face. This requires some attention because the ink comes out in thick globs if not careful.

(7) Then, while white oil ink was wet, I used a variety of brown markers to contour. Again, I used my finger while the brown marker was wet (on top of the white skin) to create the contour around the eyes and nose.

(8) I then used black brush pen to better define nostrils around the nose. I also used a blush-colored marker to fill in the shape of the lips.

(9) At this point, it was down to the details such as the highlights in my friend’s hair and eyes, which I used a white gel pen to accentuate. I also used white marker inside the eyes to better define the pupils.

(10) Lastly, I used POSCA markers to roughly suggest my friend’s neck and shoulder area, her clothing and relevant shadows.

The result

Besides having a truly overjoyed and delighted friend, the sketchbook cover, spine, and back came out pretty amazing!

Please see my portfolio details here for more photos.

~ Enjoy! 

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson